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JFK falls in regional final

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Kennedy senior Jaden Rishel delivers a pitch during the team’s regional final contest against Jeromesville Hillsdale on Friday.

LOUISVILLE — Sometimes the hits just don’t come when you need them to. It’s a story anyone who has played baseball will tell you.

Unfortunately for Kennedy, the hits they needed never came, as the Eagles fell to Jeromesville Hillsdale 3-0 in the Division IV, Louisville Region finals.

“We just didn’t come up with that key hit,” Eagles coach Jim Ciambotti said. “We didn’t play well defensively, but we had multiple guys in scoring position and we just couldn’t get that big hit at a crucial time.

“We just didn’t make plays.”

The Eagles kept things scoreless until the bottom of the fourth, when senior Braylen Jarvis hit a triple to put himself in scoring position.

Freshman Kael Lewis sent Jarvis home, and then later on in the inning, rounded home himself.

An inning later Lewis recorded another RBI, knocking Jack Fickes home with a sacrifice fly.

Each top half of the inning, the Eagles tried to cut into the deficit, but the furthest they would reach was third base.

Kennedy’s season ends with a 19-9 mark.

“We didn’t put a good barrel on the ball,” Ciambotti said. “Weak contact, but that’s baseball.”

The Eagles’ senior class of seven, Caleb Hadley, Michael Condoleon, Santino Ciambotti, Nico Ciminero, Jaden Rishel, Quinn Meola and Luke Rupeka have had a laundry list of accomplishments in their four years with the program.

Four district titles, three regional final appearances, a regional title, and the 2021 state championship, among countless individual accolades achieved over the last four seasons.

It’s an impact that is going to be left on the program for years after they graduate.

“These guys have obviously changed the program,” Ciambotti said. “They’ve accomplished so much in four years here. I told them that nothing will duplicate what happened four years ago in Akron. That was a program-changer, and they were part of that. We’ll remember that (team) for the rest of our lives.”

That state title in 2021 was a program first, and set a bar for every following class at Kennedy to work toward reaching.

Ciambotti is confident in his team reaching that bar again.

“We set the bar,” Ciambotti said. “I told the underclassmen that we’ve just got to continue it. Obviously we’re losing a lot, but we’re going to (keep things going.) We’ll get back here.”

Hadley is staying local for school, and will be playing baseball for Youngstown State next season.

Both Condoleon (John Carroll University) and Ciminero (Marietta College) are continuing their athletic careers at the next level, but with basketball instead.

While a dominant senior class is walking out the door, the cupboards aren’t bare at Kennedy going forward.

The Eagles return two of the team’s top pitchers in Freddy Bolchalk and Michael Bartoe, as well as juniors Dom Ryan and Taggart Carfangia, and sophomore Andrew Lapolla, who all saw significant time on the field this season.

But without the rock solid core that the seniors brought, there’s going to be an adjustment period.

“Just teach the game of baseball and develop (the young players),” Ciambotti said. “We’re going to have to be patient with a lot of new kids coming in, probably into the starting lineup and the underclassmen, so we’re going to have to be patient, teach the game and just take it one day at a time.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Brian Yauger by email at byauger@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @_brianyauger.

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