Firestone opened its baseball season with three runs in the first inning on a crisp Monday, much to the chagrin of Kenmore.
The host Falcons added to their lead and never trailed on their way to an 8-2 win at Dave Marshall Field on Fairfax Road in the City Series opener for both teams.
Senior Chris Merzweiler and junior Drew Fite started the first inning with singles and senior Phil McIntyre reached base via an error.
The trio scored to give Firestone a 3-0 lead as three additional Cardinal errors followed in the inning.
“For an opening game, I thought we shot ourselves in the foot,” Kenmore coach Joe Nauer said. You can’t make [four] errors in an inning. It’s tough to compete against a team like that when you make that many mistakes.”
The three-run first inning allowed Falcons senior starting pitcher Brandon Maddern to relax, get comfortable on the mound and record a win.
Maddern, a 6-foot-9, 280-pound left-hander, pitched five innings. He struck out nine, walked three and gave up two hits.
“I was just trying to concentrate on my mechanics and start out with first-pitch strikes,” Maddern said.
Firestone added four runs in the fourth inning with two outs to make the score 7-0.
Fite walked to start the rally and McIntyre followed with an RBI triple to left-center. Senior Kevin Halverson was then hit by a pitch and junior Tom Lehman reached base via an error. That error scored McIntyre. Senior Michael Eberly followed with a two-run single that scored junior pinch runner Austin Williams and Lehman.
“We talked to them about being aggressive,” Firestone coach Brad Lightfoot said. “Our top six guys will make contact and not strike out a lot.”
Maddern kept the Cardinals off balance by mixing in a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, circle changeup and a curve. He also praised his defense for its work behind him.
“I was pleased with how he started innings, but I wasn’t totally happy with how he pitched to the third and fourth guys in an inning,” Lightfoot said. “I want him to be more aggressive and put batters away.”
Kenmore scored a run each in the sixth and seventh innings.
Andrew Calvert singled in the sixth and scored an RBI single by Steve Vinson. Dillon Newberry reached base on an error in the seventh and proceeded to score when Tyler Nigh grounded out.
“The strengths of our team this season are pitching and defense,” Lightfoot said. “We have pretty good speed. too. on the bases and in the outfield. We have some guys that can fly around and catch the ball.”
Firestone’s final run came in the sixth after McIntyre walked and scored on a Leh-man groundout.
“Coach is always talking to us about being aggressive and taking what the pitcher gives us,” McIntyre said. “It’s opening day, you want to come out with a good first inning and put a team down quickly. We came out hyped. We were really excited on the bench before the game.”
That enthusiasm carried over to the field.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.