Tiger baseball enjoys big day at a big park vs. Boardman

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Twinsburg Chris Bryant hits during a game earlier this season. Bryant went 4-of-4 with three runs scored, leading the Tigers to a 11-2 win over Boardman Friday at Eastwood Fiild..

NILES — After the lost season of 2020, many high school baseball coaches have talked about trying to make this season as fun as possible.

Playing the confines of a minor league ballpark qualifies as a fun time.

The Twinsburg baseball team enjoyed its chance to do so Friday, making a trip to Eastwood Field in Niles — home of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers — to take on Boardman.

Tigers coach Jeff Luca said he wanted his players to have experiences like this.

"The best thing was everyone got to play," Luca said. "All 15 of us were able to get in tonight. It's a great experience for the kids. Here we are only April 9 and we're playing in a minor league ballpark."

Junior Chris Bryant said Eastwood Field had no surprises for him and the rest of the Tigers.

"I love playing in field like this," Bryant said. "The ball never does anything funny. We always train on bumpy fields and we love it, but it's always good to play at places like this."

It was clear the Tigers enjoyed a perfect spring afternoon at Eastwood.

It didn't hurt that Twinsburg played a very good game of baseball.

Twinsburg (2-2) excelled in all three phases of the game to score an 11-2 win over Spartans.

Luca noted Twinsburg had played well in its previous two games, but one inning by the opposition had foiled them, including a 13-11 slugfest loss at home to Mayfield April 6.

"We talked about, 'Stop the bleeding,'" Luca said. "When you make a mistake, you need to be able to move on. We did much better at limiting the mistakes today."

In truth, there weren't many mistakes made by the Tigers, especially on defense as they played error-free ball.

"Our defense played great today," Luca said.

The same can not be said for Boardman. The Tigers were able to jump on the Spartans for five runs in the first two innings despite Twinsburg only getting one hit in those innings.

"We've been pitching well all year, but we didn't today," said Boardman coach Joe Gabriel. "We didn't do anything well today and they did.

"Twinsburg [is] a great team and they're well coached. We got into a hole early and that didn't help us at the plate."

Twinsburg pitchers Jeremy Soppel, Henry Holman and Kyan Barnes combed to give up just three hits, while striking out seven.

However, Luca noted Soppel had to be taken out of the game after three innings when he experienced shoulder soreness. Soppel pitches three scoreless innings, followed by two shutout innings by Holman.

Twinsburg lost the shutout in the sixth inning, when Boardman got an RBI single from Gavin Hyde and a bases-loaded walk from Jimmy Whippo.

So far this season, scoring runs has been a forte for the Tigers.

That continued Friday, as Twinsburg banged out 11 hits, drew eight free passes and took advantage of nearly every scoring chance it had.

Bryant continued his hot start, going 4-of-4 with three runs scored and an RBI.

"They weren't throwing all that hard," Bryant said. "I was just looking to send it where I could."

Bryant's single in the first was the Tigers' lone hit in the first two innings. A walk, a catcher's interference call, two RBI groundouts and an error allowed Twinsburg to take a 3-0 lead.

In the second, Tiger designated hitter Carter Liotta and Bryant each walked and scored, thanks to a flurry of wild pitches by Boardman starter Jason Trivelli.

The Tigers blew it open in the fourth.

With one down, Twinsburg loaded the bases on a bunt single by Reggie Bussey and a single by Bryant. The Tigers then got a two-run single from Jeremy Tonelli, an RBI double from Kaden Kimmel and an RBI single from Barnes to make it 9-0.

Tonelli had a good day, finishing 2-of-3 with three RBI and two runs scored.

After Boardman broke their goose egg, Twinsburg eliminated any hope for a comeback in the seventh, when back-to-back RBI singles by Bryant and Tonelli made it 11-2.