By Ryan Kaczmarski
Lakewood High School’s varsity baseball team is on a great journey. The Rangers, taking second place in their first season in the West Shore Conference, improved to 21-5 with a 13-3 sectional championship victory over Elyria at home on Friday.
The Rangers did most of their damage in the second inning, when they tallied six hits, two hit batsmen and one walk on their way to scoring nine runs.
“I was so pumped up about (that second inning) that I had to go walk around,” Lakewood head coach Mike Ribar said. “It was amazing how the boys went out there, and went to work. They’ve been doing it all year, but you never expect anything like that to happen.”
The bottom of the second inning started with Jesus Denizard getting hit by a pitch, then Brian Hrdlicka hit into a fielder’s choice, but the Pioneers committed an error, leaving both Rangers on base. Dylan Bruening bunted for a single, loading the bases, and after a Danny Zagaria pop-out, Marquise Tyus and Eric Roder hit back-to-back doubles to put four on the board. Chase Osterman hit a single, scoring Roder, making the score 5-0, and knocked the Elyria starting pitcher out of the game. Wayne Naida walked, Max Lavisky was hit by another errant Elyria pitch – forcing in a run – then Denizard got a hit to score another run and keep the bases loaded at 6-0. After Hrdlicka popped out, Bruening hit a double, clearing the bases and putting the Rangers up 9-0 before Zagaria popped out to end the inning.
Elyria got three runs back in the top of the fourth inning, but Lakewood scored three more in the bottom of the fourth, and added one more in the bottom of the sixth, ending the game with a 10-point variant.
Lakewood junior Jameson Foran (5-2) pitched six innings for the victory, and only showed signs of a struggle after the long wait on the bench during the second inning.
“The pressure was on, in the beginning, to keep it close, but once you get the lead, you just need to throw strikes,” Foran said. “My defense is really good, so that helped.”
Tomorrow, the Rangers will have to face WSC foe and rival Midview for a third time this season, and possibly face the Middies’ pitching phenom Eric Lauer for a third time this year (Lauer won in the two previous meetings).
“We have to go to work,” Ribar said. “Midview is going to be tough for us. I’m guessing we’re probably going to face Lauer one more time. He’s good and we’re going to have to go out and play our best game.”
Tomorrow’s district semifinal game will be held at Lorain’s Pipe Yard, with the first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m.