MACEDONIA — In the first week of the 2019 season, Nordonia baseball did something it has not done consistently in years: Hit.
The Knights exploded out of the gates with a 21-0 triumph at Euclid in five innings Tuesday, followed by an 11-0 win over Trinity in its home opener Wednesday. The Knights combined for 26 hits in the two victories — a figure which could have represented two weeks’ worth of hits in previous seasons.
While the Knights’ bats cooled off a little when Firestone visited Nordonia Thursday, they still had more than enough to win.
Nordonia scored a 3-0 win over the Falcons to improve to 3-0 on the season. Knights coach Drew Hoisington said the score was not indicative of the Knights’ approach at the plate.
"That game easily could have been 8-0, 9-0 or 10-0 if any of the balls we hit right at guys would have fallen," Hoisington said. "We hit the ball hard today, but we hit it right at people. I’m not upset at all at what we did at the plate.
"This week was an opportunity for us to get a bunch of guys on the field and work on our chemistry together," Hoisington added. "It’s a positive for us to do this and not just go right in the league schedule."
Firestone coach Jeff Sloan could only rue his team’s missed chances.
"That first inning hurt when they were able to get runs," Sloan said. "We could have really gone south, but we didn’t. We just have to get runs. I’m not unhappy with how we played."
A trio of Nordonia pitchers continued a season-opening shutout streak for the Knights. Starting pitcher Vince Varner (1-0) allowed just three hits with three strikeouts in four innings of work, while senior Kyle Chonko allowed one hit in two innings of relief.
Junior Ryan Short pitched a scoreless seventh inning to pick up the save.
"That’s 17 straight innings of shutout ball from our pitching staff," Hoisington said. "Our defense played a good game tonight."
Nordonia was able to take the lead with two runs in the bottom of the first inning with two outs.
Back-to-back singles from second baseman Robbie Levak and third baseman Luke Jackson got the rally started. Then, a passed ball and a wild pitch allowed Levak to score.
Walks to designated hitter Nick Heiser and shortstop Aidan McFerren loaded the bases and Jackson scored on a throwing error to make it 2-0.
McFerren had the best day at the plate for the Knights, going 2-for-2 with a single, a double and a walk.
After the first inning, however, Firestone starter Max Erisey settled down. Erisey (0-2) pitched well enough to win, as he allowed three runs (two earned) off five hits with two strikeouts and four walks in five-plus innings of work.
"He really felt good after the third inning," Sloan said. "We just weren’t able to score any runs for him."
Nordonia scratched an insurance run over the plate without getting a hit in the bottom of the sixth. Matt Yokiel drew a leadoff walk, which spelled the end of the game for Erisey.
With left-hander Joe Dunkee pitching, Yokiel went to second on a throwing error, advanced to third on a groundout and then scored on a sacrifice fly by catcher Mike Hamrick to make it 3-0.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Firestone had its best chance to score when third baseman Aaron Lux walked and a throwing error put runners on the corners.
However, Short got Firestone second baseman Connor O’Brien to pop out to the catcher to end the game.
Nordonia was set to travel to Canton South Saturday at 1 p.m. before opening its Suburban League National Conference schedule at Wadsworth Monday at 4:30 p.m.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_RPC