STOW — There doesn’t need to be any extra motivation to play when Stow-Munroe Falls and Cuyahoga Falls baseball run into each other.
When two sides met Thursday at Stow, however, both teams needed a win.
Stow came into the contest on a four-game losing streak, while Falls has suffered two tough losses earlier in the week. After losing 1-0 to Hudson at home Monday, thanks to a perfect game thrown by Hudson pitcher Matthew Aukerman, Falls was pounded 17-4 at Twinsburg Tuesday.
Thus, when the two rivals clashed, Falls coach Scott Koenig didn’t mind being involved in an 11-inning marathon that featured everything but the kitchen sink.
"The way things have been going, all we had left was the kitchen sink," Koenig joked.
A pair of unearned runs in the top of the 11th inning allowed Falls to snap its losing streak with a 4-2 win. Falls improved to 2-8, 2-4 in the Suburban League National Conference, while Stow dropped to 5-7-1, 2-4 in the National Conference.
"They really bounced back," Koenig said of his team. "We lost a couple of really tough games earlier this week. They put the ball in play tonight. They made the plays when they needed to."
Meanwhile, Stow coach Aaron DeBord saw his team suffer another late-inning heartbreaker.
"We’re grinding through a tough patch right now," DeBord said. "We did made a lot of plays tonight. We just have to keep fighting though."
Stow’s inability to get timely hits cost them on numerous occasions in the game, as Falls starting pitching Zach King was excellent. King gave up two runs (one earned) on two hits with four strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work.
"Zach pitched great today," DeBord said. "He’s been a quality pitcher for them for the last three years and now its his senior year. He did well."
Falls was able to jump out to the early lead in the top of the first inning. After center fielder Tyler Jellison led off with a single and stole second base, catcher Tristan Roberts hit an RBI single to make it 1-0.
After a fielder’s choice put Roberts on third base, Falls worked a double steal, allowing Roberts to score and make it 2-0.
Stow got one run back in the bottom of the first inning, as center fielder Adam Folk manufactured a run. Vober walked, stole second, went to third on a errant pick-off throw and scored on a sacrifice fly by second baseman Brandon Beck.
The score stayed at 2-1 until the seventh inning, as Stow starter Joe Bystricky worked out of several jams. Bystricky went five innings, giving up two earned runs on sixth hits with five strikeouts.
"Joey threw well today," DeBord said. "When he throws that way, we’ve got to be able to puts some runs across to win the game."
Stow reliever Tanner Henderson pitched two scoreless innings, striking out four Black Tigers.
King looked to be one his way to a complete-game win until Falls defense hiccuped in the seventh inning. Falls opened the inning with two straight errors before third baseman Jake Stiffler worked a double play.
Down to its last out, Stow catcher Riley Cesnak hit a perfectly-placed bloop single to short right, allowing Henderson to score the tying run for the Bulldogs.
Over the next two innings, Stow had the bases loaded with one out each time, only to see Falls reliever Landon Nagel escape the jams without giving up a run. Nagle ended up picking up the win, as he pitcher 4.1 innings of scoreless ball, allowed one hit and two strike outs with three intentional walks.
"He had a bit of Houdini on our side tonight," Koenig said. "[Landon] really bounced back tonight, because he didn’t get out of the first inning Tuesday against Twinsburg."
Meanwhile, Stow reliever Kaleb Poston took the loss (1-2), despite being rock solid in his first three innings. Poston pitched four innings, allowing two unearned runs on two hits with two strikeouts.
In the top of the 11th inning, Stow looked to get out of a jam. After Alex Valente hit a lead-off single and Falls put down a sacrifice bunt, left fielder Ethan Tompkins hit into a fielder’s choice that saw Valente retired in a run down.
Stiffler then hit a pop up to the mound, but was ball was dropped by the Stow third baseman, allowing Tompkins to score all the way from first base.
Stow then committed a throwing error, allowing Stiffler to score and make it 4-2.
Nagel then set the Bulldogs down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 11th to clinch the win.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_RPC