HUDSON: Archbishop Hoban flashed some leather Thursday and earned its way into today’s regional final at The Ballpark in Hudson.
A couple of highlight-worthy catches were what everyone was talking about after Hoban held on for a 3-2 victory over conference rival Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin in a Division II regional semifinal.
Particularly the one by freshman left fielder Tyler Canova that proved to be a game-saver in the bottom of the sixth inning.
With Hoban (19-10) protecting a one-run margin, a two-out single by NDCL’s Connor Kaucic put runners on first and third. Jake Hamby then launched a drive toward the left-field fence.
Canova raced back, making a reaching, backhanded grab on the dead run to save two runs and preserve the lead.
“He just hit it and I tried to get to the ball as fast as I could and make a play on it,” said Canova, who was only recently promoted from the junior varsity. “I thought I could get to it. I thought it was going to be close, but as long as I focused on the ball and watched it in my mitt, I thought I’d be fine.”
Senior right fielder Adam Gray made a running, sliding catch for the first out of the same inning. But it was his play in the first inning that set the tone.
NDCL’s leadoff hitter Cody Paterniti ripped a liner to the gap in right center, but Gray ran and dived fully extended to snare it. That, too, proved crucial as the Lions put two of the next three runners on base but were unable to score.
It was Hoban’s third victory over NDCL this season, including 11-7 and 13-12 wins in North Coast League Blue Division games.
“All week, we were hearing ‘third time’s the one that gets you,’?” said Gray, who had two of Hoban’s four hits. “But we just came out and played to the best of our ability.”
As a result, Hoban will play at 5 p.m. today against Youngstown Cardinal Mooney (21-7), an 8-4 winner over Canton South (24-5) in Thursday’s first game. Mooney trailed 2-1 before a seven-run fifth.
The winner advances to next week’s state final four in Columbus.
“Adam made a game-changing play against Tallmadge,” said Hoban coach Jim Diestel, referring to the 8-1 district final win. “He made two exceptional plays in right field today. Playing good defense and throwing strikes, we’re going to win at this point in the season.”
Diestel said Canova is “the fastest kid in our whole system as a freshman.”
“He was out there specifically to make a play like that if possible,” Diestel said. “I wasn’t hoping it would happen, but that it did happen was nice.”
While Hoban sparkled defensively, NDCL committed two big errors that aided the Knights’ cause. A fly ball lost in the sun went off the right fielder’s glove and put sophomore Jordan Burns on base with one out in the second. Gray’s single moved him to third and he scored on senior Anthony Osmun’s groundout to third.
Junior Brennen Bell singled to lead off the fifth and courtesy runner Michael Riegger was sacrificed to second by senior Tony Guerriero. Senior Aaron Cain was hit by a pitch and senior Sean Trexler walked with two outs to load the bases.
Senior Austin Farber hit a liner off the first baseman’s glove, and the ball rolled into foul ground, allowing two runs to score for a 3-0 lead.
But NDCL (16-13) came back. A walk to Kaucic and a Hambly double finished Hoban junior right-handed starter Travis Pero (5-2) and brought on sophomore right-hander Dominic Hinton, who struck out two, but gave up an RBI fielder’s choice grounder to Ryan Proud and a wild pitch that made it 3-2.
Junior right-hander A.J. Fisher worked a scoreless sixth and senior right-hander Drew Lakos earned his second save, allowing only a two-out walk in the seventh.
Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps.