EUCLID - Maplewood baseball coach Mark Trevelline has witnessed the inconsistencies of youth on many occasions throughout his coaching career.
Therefore, he wasn't too shocked when his Rockets and Cornerstone Christian committed four errors each within the first four innings of a Division IV district semifinal matchup at Euclid High School's Stanic Field. Unfortunately for the Rockets, they couldn't overcome those mistakes, while the Patriots did in an 8-3 win on Thursday afternoon.
"We had three or four plays that we should have made that we didn't that turned the whole game around, but that's kids," Trevelline said. "If we make two or three key plays after it was tied 3-3, we might be talking about a different story here, but we're not."
One of those "what-if" moments" came in the top of the fourth inning after the Rockets (12-7) recovered from a three-run deficit to tie the ballgame, 3-3, thanks to four Cornerstone Christian (15-8) errors and a couple of hits. Maplewood still had the bases loaded and one out with the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters due up to bat, but instead of capitalizing on this situation, Nate Spitler struck out swinging and Mike Palm flied out to center field to strand all three runners.
That inning proved to be the last time Maplewood threatened Patriot pitcher R.J. Spaller, who allowed just one Maplewood batter to reach base the last three innings.
"That happened twice - we had our key people up but just didn't deliver," Trevelline said. "That's just the way it goes. They did and we didn't is what it amounted to."
Meanwhile, Cornerstone Christian didn't let its chances go to waste, scoring five unanswered over the last three innings to pull away.
It started in the bottom of the fourth, when Maplewood pitcher Austin Brunstetter beaned Michael Bissetta and then tossed a two-base error when trying to pick the right fielder off at first. Following two consecutive outs, it seemed as though Brunstetter could get out of the jam, but another error on a ball hit to the shortstop allowed a run to score.
After that, the floodgates opened, as the Patriots recorded seven of their 10 hits in the fifth and sixth innings.
"I told them to fight back with their bats, and that's what they did the next three innings, scoring each inning," Cornerstone Christian coach Andrew Clark said. "They've been capable of that all year. They've been a hitting team, and I think they relaxed and did what they needed to do."
Trevelline also commended the Cornerstone Christian hitting for its depth, citing it as one of the reasons why the Rockets committed as many errors as they did.
"Their whole lineup hit the ball," Trevelline said. "That's the difference between regular season and when you get this far in the tournament: There's no easy outs in the lineup."
Despite the manner in which they lost, Trevelline said it shouldn't take away from Maplewood's season, as the Rockets recovered from a 0-5 start to make a district semifinal run. Also, losing to a team like Cornerstone Christian, which plays Cuyahoga Heights in the district final today after the Redskins beat Badger, 11-3, also isn't exactly the worst thing in the world, according to the Maplewood coach.
"They've got a good team, they've been here before," Trevelline said. "They beat some quality teams all year. They got quality athletes."