AURORA — For an inning, it appeared Thursday might be a repeat of Wednesday with another Greenmen rout.
Host Aurora’s four-run first inning proved decisive but not predictive, leading to a 5-1 victory over Ravenna.
The Greenmen (2-1) turned an innocent inning into one that ultimately determined the game.
Sophomore second baseman Evan McVay led off with a liner to center, but the Greenmen followed with a fly to left and a strikeout. With two outs, Aurora drew three consecutive walks, with sophomore left fielder Mike Carpenter’s free pass scoring the game’s first run.
Three more runs scored with senior right fielder Kyle Obly at the plate, the first on a pitch that skipped to the backstop, the next two on a single to the opposite field.
“He plays the game the right way,” Greenmen coach Michael Brancazio said. “He’s taken an opportunity, because we have good competition everywhere, and he’s making the most of it.”
Whereas Wednesday’s game got away from the Ravens (0-2), including a seven-run top of the fourth for the Greenmen, Ravenna hung tight Thursday.
In fact, the Ravens answered right away.
Catcher Jayden Clegg lashed a line drive to right to lead off the second, center fielder Levi Belcher watched a 3-2 pitch sail low and second baseman Connor Lovejoy placed a perfect bunt down the first-base line to load the bases with no outs. First baseman Evan Miller drew a bases-loaded walk to bring Ravenna within 4-1, but with the bases loaded and no outs, Aurora escaped further damage. First, the Greenmen caught the third-base runner darting off the bag on a pitch in the dirt, then Aurora hurler Will Carpenter fired some high heat for a strikeout and coerced a grounder to first to end the threat.
From the bottom of the second on, the teams combined for one run, as Carpenter overcame four straight Ravenna batters reaching in the second and Holt overcame five straight Aurora batters reaching in the first.
Holt ended his afternoon with three straight scoreless innings, showcasing a nice curve that dipped under Greenmen bats.
“He’s got two pitches, fastball and curveball,” Ravens coach Steven Hustack said. “He throws them for strikes, he can be very efficient. He kept (the curve) down.”
Carpenter tossed three innings, ending on a beautiful double-play turn behind him with runners on first and second and one out, with the second baseman McVay slickly shoveling the ball to shortstop Chase Gerbrick.
“Chase Gerbrick, he’s talented,” Obly said. “That’s about as good as you can get as a freshman, and then, Evan McVay stepped up big time as well, hitting leadoff too, and then obviously they have Will Carpenter, who’s everything you could ever want in a shortstop, to teach them what they need to know, so it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Thursday’s relievers were no less effective.
Ravenna’s Carter Bregant yielded a run in two innings.
Aurora’s Andrew Horvath struck out the first two batters he faced en route to three scoreless innings, showcasing a sharp heater and excellent command.
“He had good control,” Obly said. “He was pounding the zone all day long and it was cool to see.”
Lenny Feckner tacked on a 1-2-3 seventh.
“They have good arms all the way through that program,” Hustack said. “They’re all good.”
Ravenna put at least one runner on in each of the first six innings, with Mike Wunderle picking up an opposite-field hit in the first, Holt serving a low breaking ball into the outfield in the third, Miller drawing a pair of walks and Lovejoy notching a hit and a walk Thursday.
There were many good moments for the Ravens, far more than in their five-inning, run-rule loss Wednesday.
“It’s always good coming out here and competing against a good program early, see what you got, get yourself prepared for the good teams in our conference,” Hustack said. “My message to the guys today was, ‘Don’t be satisfied. We played better today, but guess what, we still didn’t win.’ We’ve got to win baseball games, and we’re not in the business of moral victories.”