In a week full of ups and downs, Nordonia baseball was able to close things out with a bang.
A walk-off grand slam by catcher Mike Hamrick allowed Nordonia to score a 10-6 win over Shaker Heights Saturday at home.
Prior to the dramatic victory, the Knights had scored a big win over Cuyahoga Falls April 9, banging out 17 hits on their way to a 16-3 win in five innings. That was followed by a 7-2 loss at North Royalton Thursday.
Nordonia’s record moved to 8-4, 1-4 in the Suburban League National Conference.
A falling ill the day before, Nordonia coach Drew Hoisington saw his team gave him a reason to feel better vs. Falls.
"I was at least back on my feet," Hoisington said. "We came out and jumped on them early. We were able to continue to pound it out."
"In that first inning alone, we had seven runs on five hits," he added. "In the third inning, we eight runs on eight hits. We did a lot of our damage in two innings."
Junior Aidan McFerran led the Knights offense with three singles, two RBIs and four stolen bases, while Justin Lewis had two singles, two RBIs and three runs scored.
Junior Matt Yokiel added two singles and three RBIs, while Jacob Kraus added a single, a double, an RBI and a run and Joey DeRusso had two singles and an RBI.
DeRusso benefited from all that run support, as the improved to 2-0 on the mound. DeRusso went four innings, allowing five hits with four strikeouts and no earned runs. Reliever Ryan Short allowed one run on two hits in the fifth inning.
"[DeRusso] was coming back from some shoulder discomfort in the offseason," Hoisington said. "That was his second start. Joey was Joey on Tuesday. He should be good to go the rest of the season."
The North Royalton game was originally scheduled to take place at Nordonia, but the game was moved as the Knights puts down a turf surface around home plate and on the first- and third-base lines.
"When we had a rain, a lot of it would run down the baselines will puddle in front of home plate," Hoisington said. "We felt going to turf was a better situation. Our parents did a great job fundraising to allow us to do a project like that."
Against the Bears, Hoisington said the Knights had one bad inning, as North Royalton put up five runs in the third.
"It wasn’t because of errors," Hoisington said. "It was missed opportunities to get guys out. Instead of getting out of it at 1-1, now we give up four runs and were down 5-1. That’s just kind of the way it went.
"In this league, momentum is key, especially against good teams. It’s a learning process. When you’re playing good teams everyday, you have to keep the momentum."
Luke Jackson dropped to 1-2, as he allowed seven runs (fiver earned) on eight hits with four strikeouts in 3.2 innings. Short did not allow a hit or run in 2.1 innings of relief pitching.
Brendan O’Donnell led the Knights offense with three single and three RBIS, while Jackson had a double and a run scored Nick Heiser, Vince Varrner, DeRusso and Hamrick each had singles.
Hoisington said the Shaker Heights game came in right under the wire Saturday.
"They finished the turf at noon," Hoisington said. "We played on it at 2 p.m."
"Right out of the gate we go down 4-0," he added. "They were hitting the ball all over the park. For the second straight week, [Kyle] Chonko gave up crooked number in the first inning. But he bared down and kept us in the game."
In 4.1 innings, Chonko gave up six runs (five earned) on five hits with four walks. Reliever Tony Mellone pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing one hit, while reliever Zach Westbrooks got the win by pitching a scoreless seventh and eighth inning.
Nordonia’s offense banged out 11 hits on the day, but Hoisington said it could have been even better.
"This year … we have the hardest outs I’ve ever seen," Hoisington said. "We hit the ball on the screws a lot Saturday. We had several opportunities where we didn’t take advantage, but also had some guys with great at bats."
With the game time at 6-6 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Varrner hit a pinch hit double, followed by a walk and an intentional walk to O’Donnell.
With the bases loaded, Hamrick crushed a ball over the fence in left-center field to get the game-winning grand slam.
"You could tell it was gone the moment he hit it," Hoisington said.
Hamrick had a huge day, as he belted two home runs and had six RBIs. Jackson added two singles with an RBI and a run scored, while Heiser and DeRusso each that two hits.
The Knights were set to host Wadsworth Tuesday.
After rain postponed the game Monday, Nordonia will host Twinsburg Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. followed by a trip to Hudson Thursday at 4:30 p.m. The Knights also will host Midview Saturday at 2 p.m.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO