While the focus of Stow-Munroe Falls baseball’s early season was a trip to Knoxville, Tennessee, the Bulldogs were able to get one game in before heading to Rocky Top. 

The contest showed Stow’s young guns are ready to compete, even if victory proved just beyond their grasp.

On March 23 at home, Stow went to extra innings against a solid Copley squad, but lost 4-3 in nine innings to the Indians.

Bulldogs coach Aaron DeBord had plenty of positive things to say about his team in the defeat.

"We were playing well. We just needed a couple more hits," DeBord said.

"They definitely have some ability," DeBord said of Copley. "They had a couple of top of the order guys that swung the bats very, very well. We were excited and ready to get out there and see what we could do. We had eight hits; we just left a lot of guys on bases."

DeBord said he planned to used multiple pitchers vs. the Indians and all three performed well.

Sophomore Mark Wilbur got the start and went 3 2-3 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) with three strikeouts and one walk.

Senior Joe Toth was his reliable self, allowing no runs off two hits in 4 1-3 innings of work. Sophomore Pat Ciccantelli pitched the ninth inning and took the loss, allowing one run on two hits with on strikeout and one walk. 

Copley’s Andrew Wachs scored the winning run when he singled, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on an RBI single from Adam Nedolast.

"They strung a couple hits together in the third inning to take the lead," DeBord said. "They got the hits when they needed them. 

Down 2-0 in the bottom of the third inning, Stow got back-to-back singles from second baseman Aiden Vober and center fielder Adam Folk to lead off the bottom of the third.

After Vober stole third base, he scored on an RBI groundout by Ciccantelli. First baseman Colin Harris then smashed an RBI double to right-center field to tie the game. 

With Stow down 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Ciccantelli doubled off the fence in left to lead off. He then scored on an error by the Indians catcher.

"In the sixth, seventh and eighth inning, we had a guy on second base with two outs, but we couldn’t bring him home," DeBord said. "In time, it will come with the guys getting better."

In the bottom of the ninth, Stow had a chance to tie it when Folk singled and advanced to second on a groundout. However, designated hitter Caleb Shorter struck out to end the game.

"We hit a lot of balls right at people," DeBord said. "All of our production was in the top half of our lineup. Theirs came one through nine. Obviously, we played well enough to win. You put us in that position again, I think we win nine times out of 10."

Stow hit the road to Tennessee Wednesday and was set to open the trip with games against Clarksville Northwest at Maryville College at 2 p.m. and at Knoxville West High School at 8 p.m. Thursday. 

When Stow returns to Ohio next week, it will open Suburban League National Conference play. The Bulldogs travel to North Royalton Monday at 4:30 p.m before hosting Wadsworth Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. 

Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, mleonard@recordpub.com or @MLeonard_RPC