Springfield tallies just one hit in 3-0 loss to Warren JFK in Division IV district final
NEW MIDDLETOWN — After Warren JFK’s district semifinal win over Bristol on Tuesday, head coach Jim Ciambotti wanted to see his team improve defensively.
The No. 2 Eagles (19-5) answered that call Thursday at Springfield High School as they played a flawless game in the field, and Jaden Rishel twirled a one-hitter with six strikeouts en route to a 3-0 victory over No. 5 Springfield (10-10).
It’s Kennedy’s third straight district title. The last time the Eagles fell on the district stage, they lost to Springfield 8-7 in 2019.
“It’s always a good feeling to win this,” Kennedy head coach Jim Ciambotti said. “Again, respect to Springfield and their coaching staff. They came a long way from where they started with an outstanding staff. We were fortunate to come out on top today, and it all started with Jaden Rishel on the mound.”
Rishel was almost unhittable all day long for the Eagles. He recorded two strikeouts in each of the first two innings as he worked through counts and kept the Springfield hitters off balance with a mixture of fastballs and curveballs.
“He was just getting ahead, and once you get ahead it just sets everything up,” Rishel’s catcher Caleb Hadley said. “He was getting the fastball in there to start, and then his breaking stuff was working. Both the slider and the curveball looked good today. All around he just had a really good outing.”
The 6-foot-4 junior right-hander carried his no-hitter into the seventh inning before Springfield’s Kolten Ruark broke it up with two outs. But, Rishel couldn’t have done it without his defense.
In the top of the third, Andrew LaPolla made a diving catch in right field on a Parker Dobson line drive that seemed destined to find grass. Then, Aidan Rossi made a sliding catch of his own in the top of the fifth inning on a Vincent Woods line drive to left center.
Jake Hettrick-Carfangia also made a slick play to his left side at third base in the top of the second inning. Middle infielders Michael Condoleon and Santino Ciambotti also made the plays they needed.
“They played their butts off today, and that’s what we needed to do to win big games, and that’s obviously what we did today,” Rishel said.
After seeking improvement from them earlier this week, coach Ciambotti said he was happy with how his team responded.
“That was very crisp; that is what we want,” he said. “That’s what we have to have going forward when we are playing good teams like this and going into the next couple of weeks. You have to play good defense and give yourself a chance offensively.”
Kennedy scored three runs in two consecutive innings and never looked back.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Michael Bartoe led off with a single and advanced to second on a hit and run by Santino Ciambotti that found its way into left field.
Bartoe then came around to score when Rishel grounded into a fielder’s choice. The Tigers attempted to turn a double play, and the throw to first went awry, and Bartoe was able to cross home plate for the first run.
The Eagles took advantage of a few more Springfield errors in the next inning.
Rossi led off with a single and stole second before advancing to third on a single by Condoleon. With runners on first and second, Condoleon executed a delayed steal to draw a throw, which flew into center field and allowed Rossi to score from third.
Condoleon scored the final run of the game on a wild pitch after advancing to third on the pickoff attempt.
“It was a pitchers duel, and we made some minor errors and they capitalized on it,” Springfield coach Terry Dobson said. “They didn’t make any errors, and they had some really good plays in the outfield. When you play at this level, those are the things that you have to be able to do.”
Outside of that small stretch, the Tigers played solid defense throughout the game and starting pitcher Braden Butler kept the Eagles at bay for most of the matchup. The senior right-hander threw all six innings and scattered eight hits while striking out four.
“He was lights out,” Dobson said. “He couldn’t pitch any better.”
The Eagles now advance to the regional semifinals where they will play the winner of Dalton and Hillsdale at 2 p.m. Thursday at Louisville High School.
After winning a district title, the Eagles are aspiring to capture more.
“It feels good to do this, but it’s just a step, a goal,” Hadley said. “It’s one step closer to our final goal but we’re going to stay grounded and stay true to who we are and keep working hard.”