Boardman blasts Warren G. Harding 11-0 in five innings

Staff photo / Neel Madhavan. Boardman pitcher Tyler Kirlik throws on Tuesday against Warren G. Harding.

WARREN — Baseball is a fickle game. One day the strikes are piling up and balls are flying into the outfield, then the next day it’s nothing but hits and strikeouts.

Warren G. Harding has found that out the hard way as of late, as the Raiders dropped their fourth straight game to Boardman on Tuesday, 11-0 in five innings, after opening the season with four straight wins.

“Energy, mental toughness and momentum — that’s what baseball is,” Harding head coach Andrew Burnett said. “Beginning of the year, everything seemed to go our way, and then the last four games or so, nothing seems to go our way. We gotta battle through that — it just happens.”

Meanwhile, the Spartans have seen the flip side of that. After beginning the season with losses in four of its first five games, Boardman has now won two straight after finishing the sweep of the Raiders.

“I think we just have to build on what we’ve done the last two games and keep it going,” Boardman head coach Joe Gabriel said. “You get back to work tomorrow at practice and then we got a game on Thursday.”

After edging Harding 2-1 in the first game of the series on Monday, the Spartans wasted no time in Game 2.

In the top of the first inning, Boardman opened up the game with four straight hits and hits in five of its first six at-bats, which led to three RBIs — two from Tyler Kirlik and one from Landon Whippo.

Then after a pair of walks, three wild pitches allowed three more runs to score for the Spartans.

“We gotta play defense,” Burnett said. “When we came into the season, we thought pitching and defense would be our strength and so far, defense hasn’t been it. It’s just focus, and the break off doesn’t help, but everybody deals with it, so we’re not going to make excuses. We just gotta get better.”

In the blink of an eye, Boardman had a 6-0 lead by the end of the first inning.

“I think it obviously settles guys down and settles the pitcher,” Gabriel said. “He’s able to get himself going a little bit, and defensively, it takes some pressure off the defense. With that six-run inning, it definitely allowed us to relax a little.”

After a quiet second inning that saw Boardman add a run to its total off an RBI from Grayson Eicher, the Spartans went to work once again in the third.

Harding pitcher William List got a strikeout to start the inning, but was pulled for Corey Kuhn after a walk and a hit-by-pitch.

Then with two runners on, Marty Stachowiscz picked up an RBI and Kaden Mayhew added two more. Eicher picked up his second RBI of the game in between a flyout to left field and a strikeout.

“We come back in the second and we hit a couple line drives just right at guys, and then it just snowballs,” Burnett said. “We talked about it (after the game). It’s kind of like quicksand. You just gotta find a way to get out of it, otherwise you just keep sinking.”

Gabriel said it was the best the Spartans have swung the bat in a few games. Boardman finished with seven hits, including several deep doubles into the outfield.

“We were more aggressive at the plate hitting,” Gabriel said. “I would love to see us continue to swing the bat. … I think having a good approach at the plate — I think sometimes guys start just trying to do too much. But they were aggressive today and things played out well for us.”

Kirlik pitched a complete-game shutout for the Spartans, giving up five hits, while throwing three strikeouts and two walks across five innings.

Boardman improves to 3-4 and will host Warren JFK on Thursday, while Harding drops to 4-4 and will host Newton Falls on Thursday. Both games are set to begin at 5 p.m.

Have an interesting story? Contact Neel Madhavan by email at nmadhavan@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @NeelMadhavan.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today