HUDSON — With 11 seniors on it roster, Stow-Munroe Falls had some lofty expectations this season.
Bulldogs coach Aaron DeBord said he was proud of his team, even though he had to use two of the most dreaded words in coach — "That’s baseball." — Tuesday night.
Second-seeded Solon ended the season for Stow with 5-3 win in a Division I district semifinal Tuesday under the lights at The Ballpark at Hudson. Solon advanced to Wednesday’s Hudson district final, where it was to face top-seeded Walsh Jesuit.
Prior to the playoff loss, Stow lost its final Suburban League National Conference game May 10, losing 12-9 at North Royalton. Stow then closed out its home schedule with a 10-1 win over Cuyahoga Falls in a non-league game May 12.
The Bulldogs finished the season at 16-9 overall and 9-5 in the National Conference, earning a share of the conference title.
"Our goals were high this year," DeBord said. "From the outset, we said we wanted the league title. We shared it, but we accomplished that goal. That’s a peak we haven’t been to 10 years here at Stow. We knew our district was going to be tough. We had two top 15 teams in our district and we played well."
Tuesday’s game started out as a pitchers’ dual between Stow’s Colin Harris and Solon’s J.T. Caver, as both pitchers kept things scoreless through four innings.
"I thought both pitchers did a fantastic job," DeBord said. "Colin was incredible again tonight. I felt like every time he pitched this year, we had a chance to win. We did again tonight."
Meanwhile, DeBord lauded Caver for pounding the strike zone, as both teams had some excellent defense on the night. Caver (5-1) pitched a complete game, giving up three earned runs on three hits with six strikeouts and one walk.
"We were able to put good swings on the ball for one inning," DeBord said. "Other than that, he kept us off-balance."
Solon was able to break the deadlock in the bottom of the fifth inning. Gabe Barson led off with a single, moved over on a sacrifice bunt and scored on an RBI single from Ryan Guggenheim.
Guggenheim would score on an RBI single from Jimmy Casamento, who later scored himself on a sacrifice fly from Ryan Swartz to make it 3-0.
Harris went five innings, giving up three earned runs on five hits with three strikeouts.
Stow was able to answer in the top of the sixth inning. Bulldogs second baseman Nate Hallam led off with a single and went to second on a sacrifice bunt. Left fielder Eric Schilling then struck out, but when strike three got away from Solon’s catcher, he opted to throw to third base, where Hallam was safe.
After first baseman Brett Rhodes walked, catcher Drew Bradley hit a two-run single into right. Designated hitter Lincoln Hackim then tied the game at 3-3 with a sacrifice fly.
"We battled back when we got down 3-0," DeBord said. "I was proud of the guys."
Stow brought on Evan Bainbridge to pitch the bottom of the sixth, but Bainbridge took the loss, as he gave up two earned runs and retired only one batter. Joe Toth got the final two outs of the inning.
An RBI fielder’s choice from Barson and a sacrifice fly from Guggenheim drove in Solon’s winning runs.
There would be no comeback in the seventh inning, as Caver set the Bulldogs down in order in the seventh inning.
Bradley, Schilling, Hackin, Hallam and Rhodes all are among the 11 seniors DeBord will say goodbye to this spring.
"These seniors have been absolutely awesome," DeBord said. "They — along with the classes who came before them — have really changed the culture of Stow baseball. I’m going to miss them dearly on and off the field."