ALLIANCE — The circumstances differed but the outcome was the same for a pair of North Ridgeville teams who came home with runner-up trophies as the Ohio Hot Stove Baseball tournament concluded Saturday at Butler Rodman Park.
In Class E (Ages 15-18), the North Ridgeville Gladiators started the day by failing to capitalize on a prime scoring opportunity and wound up losing a 1-0 heartbreaker to Sebring/West Branch Homeworth Fab.
Play Saturday resumed in the second inning with the Gladiators batting with one out and the bases loaded. They started the game last Sunday but it was suspended due to heavy rain.
Instead of capitalizing on the situation, the Gladiators stranded all three runners only to see Homeworth score in the third on a Dan Windham RBI single.
“We knew this was going to be a tough task. We’re not going to make any excuses. The better team won today,” Gladiators coach Timo Quintana said. “We never gave up and that’s what is really important to me as a coach. A 1-0 loss stings but the last two years they are 46-15 (in competitions) so there’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
North Ridgeville (17-4) had at least one baserunner in each inning but couldn’t score against Josh Young, who pitched all 5 2/3 innings Saturday, striking out 10. Young was named the Class E MVP.
The bitter pill for the Gladiators to swallow is if the game would have been finished as scheduled last Sunday, they would not have faced Young, who threw a complete game a day earlier against the Sheffield Venom to get his team into the finals.
“It was tough not being able to score in the second when we had bases loaded but we just did what we’ve done all season, which is try to deal with everything the best we could,” Gladiators pitcher Zach Cabell said. “It was a great season. We just didn’t play as well as we could have today.”
Cabell pitched a complete-game four-hitter, striking out eight and working out of jams in the sixth and seventh innings with runners on second and third.
Garrettsville Garfield G-Men 11, North Ridgeville Icon 5
The Icon fell behind early and was never able to recover in a loss to the G-Men in the Class EE (Ages 15-16) championship game.
Last Sunday morning, the Icon defeated Garfield 4-3 to force a winner-take-all game. That game was also postponed from last Sunday afternoon until Saturday.
“We were here and we had momentum on our side so it was tough having to come back,” Icon coach Jason Waite said. “We felt like we had everything set up the way we needed it to go but the delays and everything really shook it up.”
Even though the Icon (17-2) ended the year with just its second loss, it was a day to remember for centerfielder Matt Mayak, who hit his first home run in the third inning.
“It was a full-count and I decided if I saw fastball I was just gonna take it yard,” Mayak said. “It was right down the middle. I hit it and it just took off. It was kind of a line drive but I just knew it was going to get out.”
Kaiden Spade pitched a complete game for the G-Men, striking out 12 to earn the Class EE MVP award.
Mayak said mistakes doomed the Icon.
“It’s like a pyramid, once one things falls the whole team falls. I think that’s what happened,” Mayak said. “I believe in every single kid on this team this year but today it just crumbled with errors. That six-day break took all of our energy and we just kinda went downhill.”