NORTH CANTON: A scheduling change Tuesday didn’t seem to bother Lake senior pitcher Tyler Straley and senior catcher Andrew Swan.
The two helped the visiting Blue Streaks hand the host North Canton Hoover Vikings its first Federal League loss of this season 5-2 on a sunny and warm day at the ballpark.
“Our field just doesn’t take water,” Lake coach Mike Parker said. “We were supposed to play them home today. We switched the game and thought, ‘You know what? We need to play.’ I felt good coming down here with Straley on the mound, and obviously you see why. He is a horse out there. He is 6-0. He came in averaging 1.7 strikeouts an inning.
“Hoover is a very good team. He had [three] strikeouts. They just put the bat on it and we played. It was just a great Federal League game.”
Straley and Swan led Lake (13-4, 6-2) over Hoover (14-4, 6-1), but received assistance from their teammates.
“We are just united as a family,” said Swan, who went 3-for-4 at bat. “That is big with us. We are not individual players. We are more about the team.”
Straley, a right-hander, out-dueled Hoover senior lefty Drew Vargo to notch the victory. Straley threw 109 pitches. Vargo tossed 130 pitches.
“He was working mostly fastballs and curveballs, and I think he threw maybe two changeups,” Swan said. “He has really come a long way since last year.”
Lake, which has won 10 of 11 games, led 1-0 in the first when senior Kyle Crites scored following an error. Crites and Swan singled in the inning.
The Blue Streaks’ edge grew to 2-0 in the fourth when junior Mitchell Spotleson and senior Matt Byo smacked consecutive doubles.
The Vikings, who started the season 12-0, tied the score at 2-2 in the fourth. Senior Austin Feinberg tripled in junior Will Haueter and junior Matt Machamer hit into a ground out that scored Feinberg.
Lake regained the lead with two runs in the sixth. Swan singled to start the inning on the 12th pitch of his at bat, a “changeup away.” Spotleson singled in junior pinch runner Matt Criswell and senior Andrew Heiser singled in sophomore Damian Maglione.
“He is just so hard on himself,” Parker said of Swan. “Andrew is his worst critic, which most kids are. I just keep telling him to relax. That was so vital to him because he is our catalyst in that four spot [in the batting order]. Hopefully this will jump-start him. It was a great at bat.”
Swan hit a solo home run to left-center in the seventh on a 1-1 pitch to cap the scoring.
“Once he threw those two high fastballs, I knew he was coming with a curveball to change things up and he just hung it there,” Swan said.
Straley consistently had movement on his pitches. He had 15 strikeouts against Glen Oak and 12 strikeouts against Jackson earlier this season.
“We got beat by the best pitcher in the league,” Hoover coach Jeff Hite said. “I thought we had a couple of chances and had him on the ropes. When you have a good pitcher like that, you need to take advantage of opportunities. We did get a two-spot that one inning, but that is sort of baseball. You have to get some more runs. I thought we did have good swings on him, but hey, he is really good. He pounds the strike zones and he hits spots.”
Lake will host Hoover at 5 p.m. Friday.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.