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Lutheran West 3, Garrettsville 2
By Mark Fenske  | staff
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ROCKY RIVER --  During many years when Lutheran West has had great sports teams, struggles in the postseason have been the norm rather than the exception.  Many times fans and parents have pointed to a lack of adversity as part of the reason.  All those great undefeated basketball teams in the middle aughts—many people said that it would have been better had they lost a few games.  Last year, when LW lost to Garrettsville Garfield in the district championship, some pointed to a lack of close games during the regular season as a big issue.  LW had compiled a ridiculous average margin of victory of nine runs per game and played in only two one-run games before their 8-7 loss in the district championship last year.   

Since the district final loss, however, close, tense games have been the norm.  While the team still has averaged an eight-run margin of victory, they have played in nine one-run games, winning four of them.

That experience was obvious in tonight’s game.

After scrapping for two runs in the bottom of the fifth on two walks, two bunts, a single and a hit by pitch, LW led 2-0.  Senior Billy Valletto had been dominant to that point, striking out five and stranding six in the first five innings.  The sixth, as usual, would not go easily. Valletto hit Garrettsville’s leadoff hitter, Brandon Baumgardner, with the second pitch.  He stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, then scored on a one-out ground ball to shortstop.  The next two batters singled, and Valletto was pulled with the score 2-1 after he walked the number nine hitter to load the bases.  

Senior Justin Chislow was called on to get out of the jam.  Showing poise only gained by being in the situation before, Chislow struck out Austin Click to escape the jam without further damage. 

In the seventh, Chislow found himself quickly stuck in another tough situation.  His first pitch was grounded by Sebastian Neikirk to freshman C.J. Griffen at third who juggled the ball and threw late to first.  Déjà vu struck, as Neikirk stole second and moved to third with one out.  Chislow responded by striking out Baumgardner on a wicked 3-2 curveball.  One out away.  With fans on their feet and another full count, Chislow got a slow roller to senior Ty Hoy at second base.  Unfortunately for LW, it was hit so slowly that Hoy couldn’t get the ball to senior Sam Myers at first in time for the out and Neikirk was able to score the tying run from third.

Many times in the last year, LW pitchers have caved to the emotion and frustration of giving up the key hit to let the opposition back into the game.  Chislow, however, stayed calm and confident on the mound, quickly retiring the next batter, and then, after LW failed to score in the bottom of the seventh, set down the G-Men in order in the eighth.

Offensively, LW went 1-2-3 in the seventh and looked as if they would do the same in the eighth.  After seniors Cal Thomay and Zach Hausmann struckout to start the inning, Valletto took the game into his own hands.  He started by singling to right.  He then stole second.  Not satisfied with waiting for senior Ryan Jones to knock him in, Valletto swiped third on a 3-1 pitch.  As he slid head first into third, the throw skipped past the G-Men’s third baseman and into left field.  Valletto scrambled to his feet and scored without a throw as the left fielder overran the ball in his haste to get the ball in to the plate.

Lutheran West will play the Waterloo Vikings on Thursday at 4:30 PM at Tri-C West.  The Vikings knocked off Keystone in the first semifinal of the day 6-2.  Waterloo is 14-11 after their victory over Keystone last night.  Neither LW nor Waterloo is ranked in the state Division III poll, yet after tomorrow, one of them will be in the final 16.
Wed 3/31/10
L, 6-2
Thu 4/1/10
W, 12-2
Tue 4/6/10
W, 9-8
Wed 4/7/10
W, 12-2
Thu 4/8/10
L, 7-0
Sat 4/10/10
L, 7-6
Sat 4/10/10
W, 12-1
Mon 4/12/10
L, 5-3
Tue 4/13/10
W, 14-0
Wed 4/14/10
W, 19-10
Mon 4/19/10
L, 10-6
Tue 4/20/10
W, 5-4
Wed 4/21/10
L, 8-6
Fri 4/23/10
W, 10-8
Tue 4/27/10
W, 13-6
Wed 4/28/10
W, 9-3
Fri 4/30/10
W, 16-1
Sat 5/1/10
W, 19-0
Sat 5/1/10
W, 25-7
Mon 5/3/10
L, 5-4
Wed 5/5/10
L, 8-7
Fri 5/7/10
W, 10-0
Sat 5/8/10
W, 8-7
Sat 5/8/10
Lincoln West
W, 12-8
Mon 5/10/10
W, 5-0
Thu 5/13/10
W, 6-5
Wed 5/19/10
W, 3-2
Thu 5/20/10
L, 6-5
Fri 5/21/10
L, 11-10
Tue 5/25/10
W, 16-0

Lutheran West
3850 Linden Road
Rocky River, Ohio 44116-4099

Phone: 440.333.1660
Fax: 440.333.1729

Acts 3:6-8 I don’t have much, but what I have I give to you:  In the name of Jesus-Walk!  The man jumped up leaping, dancing and praising God!