The Firestone Falcons are playing their best baseball at the absolute right time in 2019.
Fresh off a Division I sectional final win over Wooster on Thursday, host Firestone met rival Ellet on Sunday afternoon in the City Series postseason championship game.
Ellet scored first, but host Firestone countered with eight runs en route to an 8-1 victory. Senior Connor O’Brien walked twice, had two hits and scored four runs for Firestone (21-8).
“We had good at-bats, we were patient and these kids hit,” Firestone coach Jeff Sloan said. “We are probably 50 some points higher with our team batting average than we were last year.”
Senior right-handed pitcher Max Erisey (6-3) earned the win with a 92-pitch, complete-game performance. He struck out six, walked one, hit one and allowed four hits.
“I knew right away when I was throwing in the bullpen that my curveball was feeling really good, so I tried to utilize that as much as I could,” Erisey said. “I was trying to keep the ball low. … I kept my four-seam and my two-seam [fastballs] down, and I was able to paint the corners with the curve.”
Ellet (10-11) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when freshman Devin Huwig hit a single and scored on a groundout by senior Andy McClelland.
“All the work we did this offseason really showed us how we can come back when we are down,” O’Brien said. “We showed that on the scoreboard. We kept piling up runs and our energy stayed up.”
O’Brien scored on an error in the bottom of the first, and senior Josh Alexander singled in junior Spencer Sacha to make it 2-1.
“After that trip to Virginia Beach, our bats just got going,” said Alexander, who also hit a triple in the sixth. “… We have taken a lot of batting practice on the field and inside.”
Firestone extended its lead to 5-1 in the third. Junior James Spengler singled in O’Brien, Sacha scored on an error and junior Jack Kirven singled in Alexander.
O’Brien doubled and scored on an error in the fourth to make it 6-1. Kirven hit a double in the fifth, and then junior pinch runner Addison Johnson scored when senior Ian Hartman laid down a squeeze bunt to make it 7-1. Firestone’s final run came in the sixth when Sacha singled in O’Brien.
Junior left fielder Shawn Gates made a couple of diving catches to assist Erisey for Firestone.
“You can’t give a good team walks and errors and expect to try to stay with them, unless you are totally hitting the ball, and we were not hitting the ball,” Ellet coach John Sarver said. “Erisey had our number the first time we faced him, and Max throws well.”
Firestone will play Medina in a district semifinal at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Barberton. Senior pitcher Joe Durkee (7-1) is the scheduled starter for the Falcons, who last reached a district semifinal in 2001.
“We had a slow start, but a strong finish to this season,” Kirven said. “Today, literally everyone did something to contribute to the win.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.