In a pitcher’s duel that saw only four hits in regulation, a stolen base attempt that turned into two errors gave the Tigers (18-10) the one run they needed, taking down Black River (17-8) 1-0 in nine innings. Will Graham pitched seven innings of shutout ball for Chagrin Falls and Gavin Stevens pitched the final two, picking up the win.
Pitcher’s Duel Early
Neither team could get anything going offensively, as the starting pitchers for both sides were in complete control. Though the Tigers would get three hits in the first three innings, Pirates starter Noah Hopek kept any threat from forming. On the other side, Graham allowed just one hit against seven strikeouts through seven innings.
Offenses Continue to Struggle
In the top of the eighth, Hopek would draw a two-out walk to give Black River life, but was thrown out trying to steal second, ending the inning. In the home half of the inning, Hopek set down the Tigers in order to push the game into the ninth.
In the top of the ninth, Hunter McJunkins reached on an error at shortstop, and, after a strikeout, Travis Dean did the same, giving the Pirates runners at first and second with one out. Facing their biggest threat of the game, Gavin Stevens struck out the next two batters on just six pitches to get out of the jam.
Facing a 1-2 count in the bottom of the inning, Donny Hardy hit a leadoff single through the left side of the infield. What came next was an ending nobody expected. Hardy took off for second on a steal attempt and the ball skipped into the outfield, allowing Hardy to advance to third. The throw to third then skipped past the third baseman and Hardy sprinted for home, pulling off a wild 1-0 victory for Chagrin Falls.
The wild finish pushes the Tigers into Wednesday’s district final where they will take on the defending Division III champion Waynedale Golden Bears (19-9), who advanced with a 4-3 win over Beachwood. The loss ends an impressive season for Black River who finished the 2023 campaign 17-8.
Noah Hopek: 8 IP 4 H 2 BB 5 K 0 ER
Tyler Mrakuzic: 1-4 2 SB
Travis Dean: 0-2 2 BB
Will Graham: 7 IP 1 H 5 BB 7 K
Gavin Stevens: 2 IP 1 BB 4 K 1-3 1 BB
Donny Hardy: 2-4 R 2 SB
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