Prep Baseball Report

2019 OHSAA Tournament: Division I State Final - No. 12 Saint Ignatius vs No. 10 Mentor

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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AKRON - Second chances are always great. Michael McNamara and Michael Holdsworth each came through when given another opportunity to help Saint Ignatius to the Division I state championship with a 4-2 10-inning victory over Mentor on Sunday at Canal Park.

McNamara led off the frame with a triple off the fence in left field and came home on a Holdsworth line double to right-center. The 12th-rated Wildcats added to the lead when Holdsworth moved up on a ground out before scoring on a pickoff attempt.

Luke Lashutka then retired Mentor in the bottom of the 10th, the last out on a wild pitch throw from catcher Austin Jones to Holdsworth at third to give Saint Ignatius, fresh off a 4-3 13-inning win over Hilliard Darby in the semifinals on Friday, its second baseball title in school history.

“I’d play 200 innings if we have to as long as we find a way to come out on top,” Saint Ignatius coach Brad Ganor said. “It’s not how we drew it up, but I couldn’t be happier for the kids.”

Before producing in the 10th, McNamara and Holdsworth had missed opportunities in the seventh when Mentor coach Jeff Haase rolled the dice with two intentional walks to load the bases with one away with Kent State commit McNamara and Nebraska recruit Holdsworth coming up. But Kyle Beller fanned McNamara before getting Holdsworth on a foul out to catcher Eric Coode up against the net.

“It reminded me of the regional final when we were down one in the sixth and I’m leading off,” McNamara reflected about his second chance in the seventh. “I had the same mindset, I had to stay locked in. My last at-bat I was pulling my head off a little bit. I went down the tunnel and took some dry swings and I got locked in.”

Lashutka threw five innings of one-hit shutout ball to pick up the win for Ignatius, which started freshman Gabe Nard after using four pitchers in the semifinals. Nard, who was pulled up from the junior varsity at midseason, had thrown just 3.2 innings on the varsity prior to Sunday.

“I thought he was the next starting pitcher we had left,” Ganor explained about the decision to give Nard his first varsity start. “We had all the confidence in the world in him. We never batted an eye on it. We didn’t sleep on it. We made the decision before we even got back to the bus on Friday that he was going to be the guy.

“I told him Friday on the bus when we left the field,” Ganor continued. “He did exactly what we know he’s capable of doing. I’m glad we’ve got three more years left with him.”

Nard surrendered two runs, one unearned, on one hit and three walks in 4.2 innings before Sam LaGuardia came in to get the final out of the fifth.

“(Nick) Fletcher and (Andrew) Mulhern couldn’t pitch,” McNamara pointed out in reference to the pitch count of two of Friday’s hurlers. “Most people are thinking what are we going to do.”

The choice of Nard was the right one according to the junior shortstop.

“I trust him the most,” McNamara said of Nard. “He’s nails. He was perfect for the moment. It’s how he plays.”

The Wildcats gave Nard an early lead with one in the first when AJ Gaich walked, stole second, moved to third when the throw went into the outfield and scored on a wild pitch.

But Mentor took the lead with two in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Eric Coode to score Tim Eppich. When the throw home from left field got through, Noah Gladish scored on a close play at the plate to make it 2-1 Mentor.

Ignatius then evened it up with two outs in the next inning when Flynn Lenahan singled in pinch runner Mathew Gilberti off Mentor starting pitcher Chad Rogers.

Lenahan finished 4-for-5 to lead a nine-hit Saint Ignatius attack, with Holdsworth adding a double and triple.

Hal Walker and Zach Mezget had singles for the only Mentor hits.

Rogers did not give up an earned run in six innings for the 10th-ranked Cardinals, which came up short in their quest for state title number one.


Player of the game: Nard, who last pitched in a game during the final-regular season contest, getting the starting nod was a surprise to many. But the freshman right-hander made his coach look like a genius allowing just one hit and one earned run, striking out three and walking three before coming out with two down in the fifth.

D-I tourney MVP: Lashutka gets the nod after throwing 7.1 innings of two-hit shutout ball, fanning 10 and not walking a batter in the two games combined. In the finals the junior righty, who is committed to St. Bonaventure, struck out eight in five innings of one-hit relief while not walking a batter.

What’s next?: With three sophomores and one junior in the top five of the batting order returning, Mentor will undoubtedly be a team to contend with in 2020. Rogers will be the ace with Charlie Hawley, second on the team in innings pitched behind senior Justin Wilson who pitched a complete game in the semis, also back. … McNamara, Lashutka, Nard, Connor Mays, Jack Whelan, Matthew Geraci, Erik Daugenti and Nick Fletcher give Ganor quite a starting point for next season.


Saint Ignatius       100 001 000 2 - 4 9 3
Mentor                  000 020 000 0 - 2 2 4

Records: Saint Ignatius 24-8, Mentor 23-6.

Winning Pitcher: Luke Lashutka (5 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 8 strikeouts, 0 walks). Others: Gabe Nard, Sam LaGuardia.

Losing Pitcher: Kyle Beller (3.1 innings, 2 runs, 1 earned, 4 hits, 4 strikeouts, 2 walks). Others: Chad Rogers, Aiden Limtury.

Leading Hitters: (Saint Ignatius) - Michael McNamara triple; Michael Holdsworth double, triple; Flynn Lenahan 4 singles; Connor Mays single; Erick Daugenti single. (Mentor) - Hal Walker single; Zach Mezget single.