Canfield’s Rafoth takes no-hitter into 7th
By Brian Dzenis
Canfield right-hander Jack Rafoth hit three batters, walked seven more and won the game.
If it wasn’t for Chagrin Falls’ Andrew Kwansy’s bloop single at the top of the seventh, the Cardinals’ junior would have turned in one bizarre no-hitter during his team’s 2-0 regional semifinal win on Friday.
“That was one of the craziest outings I’ve ever seen,” said Angelo Petracci, Rafoth’s catcher for 10-plus years. “I didn’t really notice he had a no-hitter because he hit and walked so many people — guys were on base constantly. I didn’t notice until someone said something.”
Rafoth’s no-hit bid went unnoticed by the pitcher himself, nearly the whole team and even coach Matt Koenig until the final innings when his scorekeeper alerted him to it. He realized he wasn’t exactly serving up the ingredients for a victory, but he has won ugly before.
“I have done it before and I know our defense is good enough to recover,” Rafoth said. “The defense was perfect, they didn’t make any errors. The only person doing that is me by hitting people.”
Rafoth struck out six while earning the victory.
“I give [Petracci] a lot of credit. I was pitching in the dirt, he was catching low strikes and framing it,” Rafoth said. “A lot of my strikeout calls are on him. The umpire was a little tight, but he managed back there.”
The Cardinals (18-7) managed just five hits, but the balls that went into play were hit pretty hard. Ian McGraw had his team’s first hit — a triple — in the top of the second and Anthony Vross’ groundout brought him home.
It was the same story in the third. Dominic Pilolli smacked a triple and then came home on a sacrifice fly from McGraw.
“We hit some hard balls and they made the plays most of the time. We got lucky with those triples,” Koenig said. “I told the boys that we scored with a sac fly and a ground ball and good teams do what needs to be done to win. That’s what we were able to do today.”
Erik Wilson, who earned first-team All-Ohio status as a sophomore last year, took the loss for Chagrin Falls (24-7). He allowed the five hits and two runs while walking two and striking out one.
Rafoth allowed a baserunner in each of the seven innings he pitched, including a basess-loaded situation in the third inning. The defense helped him out by turning a double play in the second and sophomore Mark Whittman made a huge play at shortstop in the seventh to snatch a line dive by the Tigers’ Jack Amendola.
Canfield will face Tallmadge in the regional final today at The Ballpark at Hudson. With ace Rafoth unavailable, Koenig has a tough choice to make for a starter.
“[McGraw] is a lefty and Anthony Longo is a righty and both of those guys are extremely effective,” Koenig said. “We’re going to have to go over what gives us the best chance.”
The Cardinals’ battery of Rafoth and Petracci have some history with Tallmadge. It’s pretty ancient.
“We went to state and played Tallmadge when we were 10 years old,” Petracci said. “It’s gonna be a good time playing them.”