Tallmadge squeezes past Canfield on bunt
By DAN HINER
The Canfield baseball team played for its first Division II regional title since 2012 on Saturday at The Ball Park at Hudson.
But similar to its trip to Hudson five years ago, the Cardinals came close but couldn’t win — losing to Tallmadge 3-2. A fifth-inning suicide squeeze by the Blue Devils was the difference.
The Cardinals jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Canfield’s Ian McGraw drove in Dominic Pilolli with a single to left field.
But Tallmadge responded in the bottom of the first, scoring twice after McGraw retired the first two batters in the inning.
Tallmadge’s Zach Boyd reached base on a two-out walk. Scott Seeker followed with a single down the right-field line. Boyd scored on a single by Blue Devils designated hitter Josh Taylor to tie the game. And Seeker scored on a misplayed grounder by Canfield (18-7).
Canfield tied the game in the top of the second inning by taking advantage of walks and a two-out single. With the bases loaded and two outs, Pilolli drew a wall and Ricky Havrilla scored to tie the game at 2.
Tallmadge (23-6) scored the eventual winning run in the fifth.
Phil Glasser led off with a single and stole second. He advanced to third base on a groundout to first and scored on a suicide squeeze by Boyd. Canfield head coach Matt Koenig said there was nothing the Cardinals could have done.
“We knew it was coming, and to be honest with you Ian and [Canfield catcher Angelo Petracci] executed it perfectly,” Koenig said. “The kid was just half a step faster, that’s all. We executed and they executed, and when a baseball game is decided like that, it’s a heck of a game.”
McGraw was eventually relieved by junior Anthony Longo. McGraw threw 5.2 innings and allowed three runs on seven hits, four walks and two strikeouts.
In the end, the Cardinals left 10 runners on base, including six in scoring position. Three were stranded at third base. Koenig said the Cardinals had opportunities to take the lead early in the game, but couldn’t capitalize.
“It’s kind of what’s frustrating on this end of it. We were walked six or seven times, we got hit once and we could only score two runs,” Koenig said. “It seems like every time I was coming in the dugout we were saying, ‘Who’s gonna be the guy?’
“Honestly, we had a chance to break it open a couple times early on. And like I said, we just couldn’t get that one hit, and their pitchers had a lot to do with that and their defense has a lot to do with that. They turned two double plays today, and when you have solid defense and solid pitching, that’s when you move on.”
Koenig said the Cardinals will work to get back to a regional final next season. He said the team will graduate just two seniors from this year’s roster, as the Cardinals were junior-heavy.
“I know that they are gonna go and have great summer seasons this year,” Koenig said. “They’re gonna get a lot of experience, a lot of at-bats and a lot of groundballs. When I see them again in the fall, I’m sure in September they’re gonna say, ‘Coach, can you open up the facility? We wanna go hit.’ And I’m gonna say, ‘Heck yes, let’s get after it.’
“These guys have been a joy to coach — fantastic kids to coach. Great attitudes all year long and they worked their tails off. And like I said, I’m proud and happy for them.”