STRONGSVILLE — Five runs over the first three innings Thursday had momentum squarely in the Medina baseball team’s corner against underrated Greater Cleveland Conference rival Strongsville.
Two baserunning mistakes in a matter of five minutes changed everything.
The Bees’ offense went silent, the Mustangs methodically chipped away and Gus Gregory delivered a two-run single off the right-field wall in the sixth, giving Strongsville a hard-earned 6-5 victory.
All three GCC losses for Medina (8-4, 2-3) have been by one run. Mentor won 4-3 on a walk-off hit April 3, while Elyria emerged 5-4 on Tuesday.
“We need to do better,” coach Nick Kaplack said. “We need to learn how to win those games.”
Up 5-1 through three, the Bees continued to spray hits off left-handed starter Justin Kreller. Ethan Johnson led off the fourth with a single, but center fielder and Michigan State recruit Jack Frank covered a huge amount of ground, snared a shoestring catch off the bat of Jake Johnson and doubled Ethan Johnson at first.
Breydan Cavey followed with a single and moved to third on Nate Lucarelli’s third hit of the game. Cavey tried to catch the Mustangs napping following a pickoff attempt to first and bolted for home but was gunned down to end the inning.
Re-energized Strongsville scored one in the fourth and one in the fifth, then chased starter Ryan Fischer when a double steal sandwiched between three straight singles made the score 5-4 with one out in the sixth.
Reliever Andy Kancler (0-1) surrendered a single to Ryan Hartman and intentionally walked Frank to load the bases before getting the hook, then Gregory launched the game-winner off the fence against Kyle Maruna.
“Leadoff base hit with probably the fastest guy in the league (Ethan Johnson) and we get doubled up,” Kaplack said. “That ball would have been down against any other center fielder in the state. (Frank) made a great play.”
The loss spoiled fine offensive outings for Jake Johnson (2-for-4, double, 2 runs), Cavey (2-for-3, double, RBI, run), Lucarelli (3-for-4, RBI, run) and Brenden Stewart (3-for-4, double, 2 RBIs). The Bees have only nine runs to show for 26 hits over the last two games.
Medina got off to a roaring start, taking advantage of an error to score three unearned runs on three singles. Two more runs came across in the third on back-to-back doubles by Jake Johnson and Cavey and a bases-loaded suicide squeeze by Austin Wieczorek.
The cloudy 60-degree afternoon went slowly downhill from there.
“Beginning of the game, we were doing everything we had planned to do,” Kaplack said. “Once we got up, we started doing silly baserunning errors, we start breaking down, we’re not doing things we’re supposed to do, and it came back to bite us in the end.”
Strongsville 6, Medina 5
MEDINA 302 000 0 — 5 13 0
STRONGSVILLE 001 113 x — 6 11 2
WP — Jon Zacharyasz 1