The Stow varsity baseball team played Solon on Tuesday and Wednesday in two conference games. Solon won Tuesday's game 6-5 in 11 innings at Solon. The Comets then came to Stow and won a 5-2 decision on Wednesday. The Bulldogs played good baseball and if they could have just skipped the third inning this week, they very well would have had two wins.
In Tuesday's game, the Bulldogs got a run in the first inning for an early lead. In the first inning with 2 outs, Senior shortstop Thomas Gulley, was hit by a pitch. Sophomore Brian Groves, the center fielder, followed with a sharp single to put two runners on base. The DH in the game was Senior Kevin Schirra. Schirra was coming off of a 4-5 performance in the previous game and he stayed hot as he hit a hard single to left to drive in a run.
Starting for the Bulldogs was Senior left - hander Dan Garner. In the bottom of the first Garner got two ground outs to short sandwiched around a strikeout to set the Comets down in order.
But one run was not going to be enough. Over the next two innings, the Bulldogs managed two hits, a single by Senior right - fielder Adam Porto in the second, and a single by Senior catcher Chris Choler in the third, but they could not score.
Garner kept Solon at bay again in the second. He fielded a hit back to the mound for the first out. Then on a 1-2 count a curveball got away from him and glanced off of the Solon batter to put him on first. No damage was done, though, as Garner struck out the next two Solon batters swinging on just 6 pitches.
The third inning would be a challenge, however. After getting a groundout to second baseman Kyle Scelza to start the inning, the 9th Solon batter doubled. Solon then bunted to advance the runner and Garner fielded the ball, but did not have a play at first.
With two runners on base, the next batter sent a chopper down the first base line that got through and two runs scored giving Solon a 2-1 lead. Garner then went to a 3-2 count on the number 3 hitter that included a pop foul that was not caught.
The Solon batter took advantage and earned a walk. This was followed by the clean up hitter who sent a fly over the left fielder that scored 2 more runs. Now trailing 4-1 and with only one out, Garner kept throwing strikes and worked out of the inning with a ground out to second and another sharp grounder back to himself that he flipped to first to end the inning.
In the top of the fourth, Stow went down in order sending Garner back out to hold off the Comets. And he did. On four pitches, he retired the side on a fly out to Groves in center, a grounder to third baseman, Mike Urban, and a fly out to Scelza at Second.
With the Bulldogs still in the game, they started their comeback. Scelza reached base on an error to start the top of the fifth. Porto then laid down the sacrifice bunt to move Scelza to scoring position at second. Urban then sent a fly to right deep enough for Scelza to tag up and go to third.
As he did, though, the Comets relay throw sailed past third base and into their dugout. By rule Scelza was given the base and then home for a Bulldog run that made the score 4-2.
Garner sent the Comets down again in the fifth. Solon led off with a double to center. But Garner came back and got the next batter swinging on three pitches. He walked the following batter, but with two men on he got a fly out to right and then another grounder back to himself that he tossed to first to end the threat.
The Stow offense now got going in the top of the sixth. Gulley led off the inning with a inning with a hard double to left. Groves followed with a single putting two men on base.
After a fly out, Junior Brian Reginald, who had come in at first base, hit a sharp single to left field that drove in two runs to tie the game at 4-4. Senior Alex Glessner came on as a pinch hitter and his hard grounder was mishandled at shortstop putting him on first and allowed Reginald to score giving Stow a 5-4 lead. The inning ended with a fly out and fielders choice.
With the lead, Garner kept Solon in check with a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth with another grounder back to himself and two fly outs. In the top of the seventh, after one out, Choler drilled another single. But the Bulldogs could not drive him in.
Garner started the seventh looking for the victory. But the Solon 9 hitter, who had started the trouble in the third, opened the inning with a single up the middle. Stow coach Bryan Celick, made his move and called on Senior right - hander Alex Barry to close it out.
The next Solon batter bunted and Barry made a nice play and throw to get the out, but the tie run was now on second. Solon followed with a single to put runners on first and third.
Solon's 3 hitter came up to bat to face Barry. Barry got what he wanted, a grounder to second that Scelza fielded and threw to second for the second out, but Gulley did have enough time to get the runner at first for the game ending double play.
The Solon runner from third scored on the play tying the game up at 5. Barry now had to face the Solon number 4 hitter with the game on the line and he sent the game into extra innings with a strikeout.
The game would go 11 innings. Stow got another single from Reginald in the eighth and a single from Choler in the ninth, but could not score. In the tenth, Stow got a runner to third after a lead-off double from Groves, but they could not get him home.
Meanwhile, Solon loaded the bases in the eighth. Solon got a lead off hit then used a sacrifice bunt. After another hit and a walk there was no room for another base runner and only one out.
But Barry did not waver. He got a grounder to short for a Gulley to Scelza to Reginald 6-4-3 double play to keep the game going. Barry then set Solon down in order in the ninth.
In the tenth Barry walked the tightrope again. Solon got the lead off runner on base and then tried the sacrifice bunt. But Barry fielded the ball and fired to second just in time to get the lead runner out. Solon loaded the bases, though as the next two batters reached base. Then Solon tried a suicide squeeze for the win. Barry fired his pitch, but the Solon batter missed on the bunt. The catcher, Choler, ran the runner back to third.
Third was already occupied by the runner from second. Choler and the Bulldogs thought they had a double play as he tagged both runners. But after an umpire discussion, they only called out the runner who tried to go home. Solon still had bases loaded, but two outs now. Barry then reached back and found something extra as he struck out the next batter to end the threat.
But the Bulldogs could not capitalize. With two outs in the eleventh, Stow got two hits, singles from Urban and Choler (who had four hits on the day). Gulley followed with a drive to left center, but not far enough as the Solon fielder ran it down.
When Solon got a lead off single in the bottom of the eleventh, it appeared that Barry could hold them back only so long. Solon followed with two more infield hits that were enough to get the lead off runner around the bases and home for the hard fought 6-5 win.
As the players shook hands, the Solon fans actually applauded the Stow team as well for what was a very well played high school baseball game.
Solon then travelled to Stow to play again on Wednesday. The game would play out like a mirror image of Tuesday's game in the early innings.
Junior left - hander Troy Johnson took the mound for Stow. Johnson set the Comets down in order in the first and second innings with two strikeouts.
Stow took an early lead in the game in the first inning. Urban, playing third base, reached base on an error. After one out, Gulley, at shortstop again, drove him in on a fielder's choice to give Stow a 1-0 lead.
Stow put two runners on base in the second with singles from Schirra, the DH, and Garner, playing first base, but could not score as the inning ended on a double play. The Bulldogs would hit into four double plays in the game.
When Solon came to bat in the third inning, it looked like a repeat of the previous days game. Johnson struck out the lead off hitter. But the following batter reached on a single and that was followed with a walk. Then a bunt went for a single to load the bases.
With one out the next Solon batter hit a chopper to first. Garner fielded the ball and threw home to the catcher, Junior, Andrew Hurd, for the force out. With two outs now, Johnson was careful with Solon's three hitter who ended up walking on some pitches that could have been called either way. Then Solon did get a hit, a double that scored three runs making it 4-1 Solon. A grounder to Urban at third ended the threat.
The Bulldogs had rallied on the pervious day, but it would prove difficult to do it again. The Bulldogs got a runner on in the third when Gulley reached on an error, but was left on base.
In the fourth a lead off walk to Schirra looked promising, but was followed by a double play. In the fifth, Scelza, playing second, led off the inning with a single. After one out, Urban reached on error putting two on base with only one out. But the Bulldogs again hit into a double play to end the threat.
After the third inning, Johnson settled in. With two outs in the fourth, two Solon batters reached base on singles, but Johnson got a fly out to the right fielder, Porto, for the third out.
He then followed in the fifth by retiring Solon in order on a grounder and two fly outs. In the sixth, Solon lead off with a single. The next batter hit the ball to Garner at first who fired down to second to get the lead runner out. Johnson then got a ground ball to short that Stow turned into a Gulley to Scelza to Garner double play to end the inning.
Johnson had done his part to keep the Bulldogs in the game. In the bottom of the sixth, after one out, Groves and Schirra reached base on walks. But Stow could not follow through as Solon got out of the inning with two fly outs.
In the top of the seventh, Solon got another run when the lead off batter reached on a single. and was advanced on a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly. He then scored on a single giving Solon a 5-1 lead.
Stow came up to their last at bat and made it interesting. Scelza reached on an error. Choler came in as a pinch hitter and walked. After a strikeout, Porto followed by banging a single up the middle for an RBI to make it 5-2. Gulley then walked and the bases were loaded.
Solon made a pitching change to face Groves. Groves responded by hitting the ball hard to second for what looked like a hit initially, but the second baseman was able to catch the ball on the line drive and then fire over to first for the double play, giving Solon the 5-2 win.
Stow has added a game against Olmstead Falls on Saturday away. They will then play two games against Mayfield next week.