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Newton Falls’ Lazzari making a name for himself

The junior shortstop has tallied 38 hits, 15 RBIs, 35 runs and has hit for a .633 batting average in his first year of high school baseball

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Newton Falls shortstop Gino Lazzari runs to third base Friday night against Bristol. According to MaxPreps, Lazzari is one of the top hitters in the state and accross the nation with a .633 batting average.

He calls himself a “fastball hunter”, but it’s not just fastballs that he’s hunting. Given the numbers he’s tallied thus far, any ball thrown at him is probably getting smacked.

With a batting average of .633, Newton Falls junior Gino Lazzari is certainly making a name for himself, not only in the state, but nationwide.

According to MaxPreps, Lazzari is one of the top hitters in the state of Ohio, and is in the Top 50 across the nation.

At the time of publication, Lazzari has 38 total hits, 15 RBIs, 35 runs and an on-base percentage of .712.

Most eye-popping of all however is that this is actually his first season of high school baseball.

With the cancellation of his freshman season due to COVID, and a season-ending injury derailing him before he could start his sophomore season, Lazzari has had plenty of time to prepare for his moment to shine.

He’s not wasting a moment on the field.

“It feels great,” Lazzari said about finally getting the chance to play. “First year out here. I love this team and we’re just having a great time.”

The main thing that’s helped Lazzari reach the numbers he’s reached this year is his approach at the plate.

“Just being patient,” he said. “Make sure I get my pitch, don’t get over antsy and even if I do make it out. The next at-bat is always the most important.”

Getting a heater down the middle every now and then doesn’t hurt things either.

“Hunt fast balls,” he said. “I tend not to get too many of them, but when I get one, I try to make a good swing on it and just try to hit the ball and hit the ball hard.”

Even when the ball isn’t thrown right down the middle or isn’t a fastball. Lazzari just has a knack for whacking the ball, battling back in the count. Tigers coach Chad Rankin praised his shortstop’s ability to work himself out of a hole.

“He finds a way to put the ball in play,” Rankin said.

“I’ve only seen him strike out maybe five times all season. We’ve played about 22 games or so and he’s had a hit in 19 of them. He finds a way. I’ve seen him get way down on counts too and battle all the way back and find a way to get on base.”

That resilience, whether it’s been recovering from last season’s injury, or battling back from a pitcher’s count, has made him a great leader on the junior and freshman-heavy roster.

“He’s a great player, a great student of the game and a great leader for us,” Rankin said. “He’s always working on things individually and working on things to make the team better. He’s a great kid overall.”

In the offseason, Lazzari plays for Prospects in the Youngstown Class B league.

The junior has started drawing interest from a handful of Division I universities including Youngstown State, but that’s not what he’s worried about right now.

There’s still the remainder of his junior season and his senior season to worry about. Most importantly, the tournament run he and the 16th-seeded Tigers are hoping to make a run in.

Lazzari thinks the Tigers are getting hot at the right time, they just need to keep rolling.

“We’ve really just got to make the plays that need to be made and we’ve got to keep hitting the ball,” he said. “Our bats are starting to get hot right now. Our senior Jordan Dowling is absolutely tearing the cover off the ball right now.

“We’re really just starting to really heat up and I think we have a good chance at making some noise in the tournament.”

Newton Falls opens its tournament run on Monday against 15-seeded Waterloo. The winner advances to face Ursuline.

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