Mooney falls in regional final

HUDSON – As the sixth inning of a rain-soaked Division II regional final between Cardinal Mooney and Akron Hoban dragged on, the home-plate umpire turned to Cardinals’ catcher Drew Delsignore and said, “When it rains, it pours.”

He wasn’t talking about the weather.

Hoban took advantage of four Mooney errors in a seven-run sixth inning and went on to rout the Cardinals, 14-4, at The Ball Park in Hudson. Hoban (20-10) advances to the state semifinals to play the winner of Granville and Defiance, which concludes today after being postponed because of rain.

Mooney (21-8) probably wishes its game was pushed back a day too, preferably before a dreadful sixth inning in which Hoban blew open a 4-4 ball game.

The sixth started with an error, and five hits, two more miscues and a walk followed. The biggest blunder came on a bunt by the Knights’ Tony Guerriero. Mooney pitcher Joe Cunningham dove to stop the ball as it rolled between the pitcher’s mound and shortstop. The speedy Guerriero was already nearing first, but Cunningham tried to make a spectacular play and throw him out. The ball soared over the first baseman’s head, allowing two runs to score and Guerriero to reach third. After another error, a double steal and a wild pitch, the wheels had officially come off the Cardinals.

“The umpire looked at me and said, ‘When it rains, it pours,’ ” Delsignore said. “That’s just what happened. We were fortunate (Thursday) that it happened to Canton South. That helped us win. That’s how baseball works. It just wasn’t our day.”

Mooney reached the regional final by using “small ball” tactics, Cardinals coach Al Franceschelli said. Bunts, stolen bases, sacrifices and smart baseball helped them produce a seven-run inning in a regional semifinal win over Canton South. Hoban used the same approach on Friday, and it led to Mooney’s undoing.

“Errors killed us,” Franceschelli said. “Small ball always does test your defense, and we had a lot of breakdowns. We had wild throws, we had errors … I think 11 errors is what (our coaching staff) had registered. We had a lot of other breakdowns that don’t get registered. We knew we were very evenly matched, and whoever made the errors was going to be the one that was going to pay the piper, and we ended up paying the piper.”

Mooney trailed 4-1 heading into the second inning, but the Cardinals struck for three runs to tie it up. Ryan Megyesi, who led Mooney with two hits, smacked an RBI single. A wild pitch allowed another run to score, and the Cardinals’ deployed their second double steal in as many innings to score the third run. Both starting pitchers settled in after that – until the sixth.

“We were trying to outlast their pitcher,” Franceschelli said. “That was our whole goal. If our starter can outlast their starter, we’ll be in good shape. Then we had that big breakdown … That kind of opened the floodgates.”

Hoban starter Drew Lakos tossed a complete game, allowing three earned runs, one walk and six hits while striking out two. The Knights pounded out 16 hits, including four for extra bases. Sean Trexler led Hoban with three hits, including two opposite-field triples, and three RBIs.

“Our guys were out in front a little bit early (in the game),” Hoban coach Jim Diestel said. “At some point, they made an adjustment and started going the other way. And when you go the other way, you find sometimes that you get a little more power if you extend your arms. Trexler’s done that a handful of times this year, and he really hit the ball hard today.”

Hoban is looking for its first state championship in school history. The Knights lost in the state final, 9-8, in 2011 to St. Francis DeSales.