Sometimes sports go beyond the game itself.
The Barberton Magics were a team playing for a cause in Thursday’s 11-1 victory over visiting Ellet in a Barberton Division I sectional final.
Gabe Carneal, brother of sophomore outfielder Abbey Carneal and cousin of sophomore pitcher Macy Kaisk, died unexpectedly Friday at the age of 16.
On Thursday, the Magics (19-5) rallied around their two mourning teammates to do the one thing they could do for them on the field: win.
Coming into the game with no practice time after spending Tuesday at calling hours and Wednesday at the funeral, the Magics came to play.
After a slight hiccup to begin the game, the Magics rallied for three runs in the bottom half of the first inning after Ellet (12-12) scored a run in the top half of the inning and continued to score at every opportunity thereafter.
Sophomore outfielder Kloee Cuckler led off with a double to the gap in left-center field and scored two batters later on an RBI single by junior shortstop Kelsey Wilson.
Kaisk, batting cleanup and starting on the mound, singled before a Courtney James walk loaded the bases with one out.
Freshman catcher Kayla Rorrer lined an opposite-field single to drive in two and gave the Magics a 3-1 lead.
Barberton continued its hot hitting the following inning when the Magics batted around and scored four runs on singles by Wilson and Rorrer.
“When runners got on base we hit them in,” Barberton coach Amy Garner Cardenas said. “That was big.
‘‘We haven’t done that consistently this season.”
Cuckler doubled again in the third and James later smacked a double off the center-field fence to score two more and put the Magics ahead 10-1.
Cuckler reached base all four times she went to the plate, finishing with a single, two doubles, a hit-by-pitch, three runs scored and one RBI.
“That’s why she’s my leadoff hitter,” Cardenas said. “Because she gets on base. She’s smart up there and she’s aggressive.”
Wilson finished 2-for-3 with two singles, a walk, two runs scored and an RBI.
Rorrer drove in three runs with two singles.
Kaisk turned in an impressive performance on the mound, earning the win to improve to 13-3.
She gave up two hits and one unearned run in five innings. She struck out six and walked none.
At the plate, she went 1-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Carneal played left field but did not bat in the game.
The Magics will host Medina in a district semifinal at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Memorial donations can be made to the Carneal family to be distributed for youth sports.
Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps.