Despite all the ups and downs this spring, Cuyahoga Falls baseball will have a chance to play for a championship in its final game of the 2017 season.
Falls earned that right after defeating Woodridge 6-3 May 16 at Water Works Park in the opening game of the twice-delayed Cuyahoga Falls City Baseball Championship.
With that win, Falls was set to play Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy May 18 at Water Works Park. Victory would earn Falls its first City Baseball Championship, but results were not available at press time.
The Black Tigers' record stood at 6-20 as of press time.
Falls coach Scott Koenig said winning the City Baseball Championship would be a good way for Falls to sign off this spring.
"The kids are playing for pride. It's something to hang our hat on," Koenig said. "We're at four more wins than we had last year, so that's a positive step."
"We're more competitive and [have had] more upside than down for once," he added. "They figured out late in the season how to play competitively."
Falls also won the first playoff game of the Koenig Era recently, as the Black Tigers scored a 4-0 win over Warren G. Harding May 12 in a sectional final game at Water Works Park.
Falls nearly kept the momentum going May 13 in a sectional final game at Kent Roosevelt, but the Rough Riders rallied late to score a 5-2 win.
Koenig noted that Harding "mirrored" Falls in terms of its struggles this season, but senior Zak Allen (3-7) had no struggles at all against the Raiders.
Allen threw a complete-game shutout to get the win. He allowed just one hit with three walks and six strikeouts.
"He's pitching the way we thought he would this year," Koenig said. "He waited half the season to snap out of his funk."
Falls' offense also came alive with nine hits in the win. Koenig also saw something in the third inning that he hadn't seen all season: Falls stringing five hits together.
Jacob Sage and Kyle Borton singled, followed by an RBI single from Nate Vassalotti. Dakota Page then had an RBI single to score Borton and -- after a base-running gaffe -- Zach Metzger singled to score Page.
Up 3-0 in the fifth inning, Falls got an insurance run when Sage singled and Borton belted an RBI double.
Koenig said he knew beating top-seed Kent Roosevelt was possible after the Black Tigers split a doubleheader with the Rough Riders earlier this season.
In fact, Falls took a 2-0 lead in the third inning, as Alex Abernathy and Pat Horrigan each hit RBI singles.
Koenig said starting pitcher Will Rightley (0-4) was "mowing them down" until he lost his control in the fifth inning. The Rough Riders would tie the game in the fifth inning on two wild pitches.
Rightley was relieved in the sixth inning by Zach King, but King walked a batter and then gave up a three-run double, which proved to be the difference in the game.
Falls was able to load the bases in the the seventh inning with two outs, but Rightley grounded out to end the game.
Koenig admitted his team caught the Bulldogs at the right time, as Woodridge had just lost a 1-0 game in a district semifinal to CVCA.
"They were flat," Koenig said. "They played like I expected them to. We took advantage of it."
In the first inning, a double by Horrigan and an RBI single by Vassalotti gave Falls the early 1-0 lead.
Falls broke it open in the fifth inning when Alex Kolvey singled and Abernathy reached on an error. Freshman Julian Harris, who had been called up from the junior varsity team, then came through with a two-run single.
Horrigan then walked and Vassalotti blasted a two-run triple to make it 5-0. Vassalotti would then score on a wild pitch.
Allen started and got the win for Falls, as he took a no-hit bid into the fifth inning.
After a two-run single by Woodridge's David Graham in the sixth inning broke up the shutout, King came on to get the final out of the inning.
Koenig gave the ball to another junior varsity call-up -- freshman Jake Stiffler -- in the seventh inning. Although he gave up an RBI double to Zane Patterson, Stiffler closed the game out to get the save.