Canfield in AAC
Howland senior Kurtis Kuszmaul scored a 32 on his ACT exam last year.
The Tigers pitcher took Canfield’s hitters to school, earning his first-career complete game in a 2-1 victory Thursday night at Eastwood Field.
“The defense really came through,” Kuszmaul said. “The offense will come, but I owe my defense a lot of credit. They did an excellent job the entire game of getting me outs.”
Kuszmaul allowed just one unearned run to cross the plate over seven innings. The Cardinals had two hits and walked five times against Kuszmaul, but weren’t able to tie the game despite a couple late-inning opportunities.
“We’re really struggling to get good swings on the bat and obviously that showed tonight,” Canfield coach Matt Koenig said. “We’ve struggled all year having that one hit that puts us over the edge.”
In the top of the sixth with Howland (11-4, 2-0 All-American Conference, Red Division) leading 2-1, Kuszmaul got wild on the mound and Canfield’s Carter Rhoads made his way to third base courtesy of two wild pitches. The Cardinals grounded out to end the threat.
The very next inning, Canfield (7-7, 3-2) sacrificed Nick Luchansky over to third after he drew a leadoff walk. Again, the Cardinals weren’t able to get him home.
“For some reason we’re not getting them across the plate,” Koeing said. “It stings because our pitcher did a great job. What more can you ask? The kid threw a freaking one-hitter and lost.”
Jimmy Leone took the loss for the Cardinals despite throwing a complete game and allowing — as Koenig said — only one hit. He also walked only one.
“That’s great baseball,” Howland coach Sean Price said. “That’s what you want to be sitting in the stands for.
“Leone did a nice job. He was on the plate and Kurtis was on the plate, it comes down to just getting guys on and putting them across the plate.”
Kuszmaul had trouble locating early in the game. He hit the second batter of the game, Edmond Pilolli, who came around to score on a throwing error by shortstop Kyle Watson on a double-play opportunity.
The first hit of the game didn’t come until the Cardinals’ half of the third, when Rhoads lined a single through the left side of the infield.
The Tigers got going in the bottom of the fourth. After runners advanced to second and third on a throwing error by third baseman Joey Machuga, Leone walked clean-up hitter Tyler Spain to load the bases. Ray Hill tied the game with a sacrifice fly to deep center field.
With runners at the corners, Pilolli bobbled Matt Doan’s ground ball at short, allowing Kuszmaul to score the go-ahead run.
The two teams will meet again today at Canfield.