Jimmy Miller

HUDSON: For nearly 10 minutes after St. Vincent-St. Mary fell 11-5 to Chagrin Falls on Thursday, Irish coach Anthony Boarman told his players how proud he was of them for reaching the Division II Hudson regional semifinal.

It was the first time since 2002 the Irish (15-11) had advanced past the district level, and was two games beyond their tournament run last season.

Behind an arsenal of pitchers who held opponents to three runs in their two previous games, the Irish secured an Akron district championship at Canal Park last week.

But Boarman said Thursday’s game at the Ballpark at Hudson was unusual. The Tigers (18-13) scored a run in all but the fifth inning and tacked on three in the final inning. Boarman said the Irish offense has never been the team’s strength, so he praised his hitters despite losing by six runs.

“I think we hit the ball great,” Boarman said. “There were some runners on second and third situations we didn’t come through in. We hit the ball, [but] it was just right at guys. Offensively, I was proud of us. We’re not a team that puts up a lot of runs.”

The Irish, trailing 5-0 by the bottom of the third inning, rattled off four runs and appeared ready to challenge the Tigers’ high-octane offense. Senior Colin McNulty led off the inning with a double and, two outs later, junior Brandon Bischof scored McNulty with a single.

Bischof then stole second base and scored on senior Kyle Kelly’s single. Senior Colin Nolte lined an RBI double to left field and scored on an error to make it 5-4.

But the Irish bats were mostly quiet after that. Junior Ross Faetanini’s RBI triple plated the team’s fifth and final run in the fourth inning.

“This is a group that doesn’t ever give up on each other,” Boarman said. “In the third inning, we just understood we had a lot of baseball left to play and we just fought back and I was proud of them.”

The Irish used three pitchers — senior Mitch Whalen, junior Jacob Horning and senior McNulty — who combined to allow 11 hits and struck out six.

“You have to give [the Tigers] credit because I wasn’t really expecting that based on our scouting reports,” Boarman said. “Our pitchers have been dynamite all year. They capitalized early on mistakes that we made, and we couldn’t come back from that, it was just too tough. All credit goes to Chagrin Falls for just lacing the ball.”

The Tigers advanced to play the winner of Thursday’s late game between Poland Seminary (26-3) and Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin (14-10) at 5 p.m. Friday for a berth in the state tournament.

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