BARBERTON — Brunswick senior Noah Herron pitched his best game of the season at exactly the right time at the Barberton Community Sports Complex on Thursday.
Herron limited Firestone to four hits and completed a shutout to lead Brunswick to a 5-0 win in a Division I district championship game at Hal Naragon Field.
Brunswick (17-12) advanced to play Mentor-Mayfield in a regional semifinal at 2 p.m. Thursday at Louisville. Firestone bows out with a 22-9 record.
“Locating my fastball early in counts really helped me,” said Herron, who stands 6-1 and weighs 175 pounds. “I kind of lost it in the sixth and seventh innings in this game, but I held it together. It’s been a tough season for us, but making this run feels really good.”
The past few weeks have not been easy for Herron, his family and friends after the passing of Noah’s older brother, Josh, on May 5 at age 21. Josh, who battled cancer for 6½ years, played basketball and baseball, and graduated from Brunswick in 2016.
“He loved baseball more than I do, and it means a lot to me to win these games at the end of the season,” Noah Herron said. “I feel like he is looking down on me.”
Noah, 18, said he and Josh played ball in the family backyard often as kids.
“He was always throwing the ball way too hard at me, hitting my shins and giving me bruises,” Noah said with a smile. “Mom didn’t love it.”
Herron’s mother and father loved Thursday’s result as Herron led Brunswick to its first district title since 2013.
Senior Derek Kutrubs singled in junior Mike McFadden to give Brunswick a 1-0 lead in the second inning. The Blue Devils then made it 4-0 in the third as senior Kyle Goessler scored on a single by senior Mike Williams, McFadden batted in Williams on a groundout and sophomore Jacob Dye lifted a sacrifice fly to score sophomore Josh Kross.
Brunswick added another run in the fifth when Dye scored on a wild pitch.
“We talked about if we could jump ahead early, we liked our chances with Noah on the mound,” said Brunswick coach Grant Relic, a senior player on Brunswick's 2000 district title team.
Juniors Stephen Johnston, Spencer Sacha and Jack Kiven and senior Max Erisey each hit a single for Firestone, which was also a district runner-up in 1996.
“They did a good job and hit balls where we weren’t,” Firestone coach Jeff Sloan said of Brunswick. “That is baseball, and they had a good pitcher. He did a great job.”
Sloan will bid farewell to seniors Erisey, Joe Durkee, Connor O’Brien, Ian Hartman, Reid Schuchter and Josh Alexander.
“I am very proud of the kids for getting this far,” said Sloan, an assistant coach on Firestone’s 2001 district semifinal team.
Michael Beaven can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.