Ohio Spotlight Game: D-I State Semifinal - #30 Strongsville vs #34 Olentangy Orange



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By: Bruce Hefflinger
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Ohio Spotlight Game: D-I State Semifinal - #30 Strongsville vs #34 Olentangy Orange

COLUMBUS – The importance of getting to a good pitcher early is a phrase used time and again in baseball. That is what Strongsville did on Friday night.

The Mustangs scored one run in the first inning and two in the second and held on to beat Olentangy Orange and standout pitcher Tyler Brown 3-2 to advance to the Division I state final against Massillon Jackson. The title game is set for Saturday at 7 p.m.

Parker Shannon had a part in all three Strongsville runs, scoring the first and driving in the next two. The senior singled and stole second in the first inning, went to third on a wild throw and came in on a passed ball with two down.

Orange nearly escaped a two on, nobody down threat in the second but Shannon again came through. Mitch Midea hit a single and Kyler Damm a double to open the frame. Two strikeouts nearly had Brown off the ropes before Shannon singled on the first pitch he saw to score Midea and Damm.

Strongsville’s Matt Brosky took a no-hitter into the fifth only to walk Garrett O’Reilly and Tyler Ross to begin the frame. After a sac bunt, Cole Callahan produced the first hit by the Pioneers to plate pinch runner Zach Pfeiffer. A Jason Schuette single to right made it 3-2, however, a fielder’s choice and flyout kept Brosky and company in the lead.

Orange, the 34th-rated squad in D-I, put the leadoff hitters on base in each of the sixth and seventh innings, but Brosky, a junior committed to Ohio, was up to the challenge in pitching the 30th-rated Mustangs to the state title game to improve his season record to 6-3.

Hot Takes

Play of the game: After a walk to start the Orange top of the ninth, a sac bunt was expected. The Mustangs put on a play with the first baseman charging and the second baseman covering first. It worked to perfection with Shannon, the Strongsville catcher, firing a strike to Trevor Denning for the pick off.

More defense: Another big first out came in the third when Strongsville center fielder Alex Gray made a beautiful sliding grab coming in on a line drive off the bat of Ben Miller. Fittingly, defense also ended the game with a 4-6-3 double play.  

Player of the game: Shannon had perhaps the best game of anyone at state thus far in the semifinals. The Mercyhurst University recruit single-handedly scored the first Strongsville run and two-run single in the second gave his squad a 3-0 lead. The senior added another base knock in addition to the pickoff play in the seventh.

Shannon on facing Brown: “I think we were well prepared for this guy. This week in practice, we practiced fast velocity all week. He usually overpowers a lot of high school teams, but I’m a good fastball hitter. I swing at first-pitch fastballs a lot, and that’s all I was looking for most of the time ”

Season finale: Brown’s senior campaign ended in disappointment but not without impressing scouts. A nasty slider was used for five strikeouts while the fastball put down three Strongsville hitters on strikes. From the third inning on Brown, a Vanderbilt signee and the second-ranked player in the state, surrendered just two hits.

What’s next?: The top six in the Orange starting lineup have graduated as part of an 11-man senior class. But the Pioneers have come a long way by reaching state in just their 10th year of existence. Strongsville looks to make it two-for-two in winning state titles after claiming the 2006 crown in the only other state appearance by the Mustangs. 

Linescore

Orange         000 020 0 - 2 4 3
Strongsville  120 000 x - 3 6 2   

Records: Strongsville 25-8, Orange 22-9

Winning Pitcher: Matt Brosky (7 innings, 2 runs, 2 earned, 4 hits, 4 strikeouts, 3 walks).

Losing Pitcher: Tyler Brown (6 innings, 3 runs, 2 earned, 6 hits, 8 strikeouts, 1 walk).

Leading Hitters: (Orange) - Jason Schutte single; Zack Stiteler single; Ben Miller single; Cole Callaghan single. (Strongsville) - Parker Shannon 3 singles; Mitch Midea 2 singles; Kyler Damm double.