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Lake County Sentinel
Miscues costly in Blue Devils 9-5 loss to Rhodes 

(CLEVELAND, OH) —  (Cleveland, OH)- On Thursday the Wickliffe Blue Devils were scheduled to host the Trinity Trojans at Coulby Park in Wickliffe. The game was canceled, and Wickliffe instead played the Rhodes High School Rams at Talty Field on Cleveland’s west side. Talty Field was donated by the Cleveland Guardians as part of the Jim Thome All-Star Complex. The matchup saw the Blue Devils in their first game of the season take on the Rhodes Rams (0-1). The Rams did the job making less mistakes than the young Blue Devils taking home the win 9-5.

The battle on the mound started with Wickliffe’s senior starting pitcher Colin Casey going head to head with the Rams Juan Figueroa. The pitching duel was even going into the bottom of the 3rd inning, when the Rams struck first on a single by catcher Frankie Galan, driving home the first run of the game. The Rams led 1-0.

The Blue Devils would not trail for long. In the top of the 4th inning third baseman junior Brandon Henderson drew a walk. Next up, Wickliffe’s catcher senior catcher Jimmy Nemeth tripled to deep right center field. The roar from the Blue Devils dugout was deafening as they tied the game at 1-1. With Blue Devils sophomore Liam Widemire at the plate Figueroa threw a wild pitch that allowed the Blue Devil’s Nemeth to score from third and give Wickliffe a 2-1 lead. That’s where the score stood as the top of the fourth ended.

Colin Casey was relieved in the top of the 5th inning. He had a solid outing, going 4 innings, giving up only one run, it was earned on three walks and three hits while striking out five. Sophomore Nunzio Zivnoska relieved Casey to start the fifth inning.

The bottom of the 5th inning is where things started to go wrong for the Blue Devils as the first batter for Rhodes was hit by pitch Zivnoska. Zivnoska then issued a base on balls. The next batter grounded out on a fielder’s choice. Rams player Trent Castro was trying to advance to third base during the play and was thrown out by Wickliffe’s Liam Widemire. The umpires who were not playing attention to the play in the field, and not looking at third base, didn’t see the out and called Castro safe. Blue Devils head coach Phil Motta came onto the field to discuss it with the umps and kept his composure as many in the stands were confused by the call. Coach Motta came away empty handled as the umpires did not see the play and the call stood. It was a call that influenced the rest of the inning and game as the next batter hit a pop up to second base that was lost in the sun and dropped in on an error, scoring Castro from third. With bases loaded later in the inning, Rams third baseman Joey Rivera hit a bases clearing triple. After the all the damage was done, the Blue Devils trailed 6-2 after five innings.

Wickliffe couldn’t get anything going in the top of the sixth. The Rams took advantage again as they scored three more runs to run the score up to 9-2, heading to the top of the seventh 9-2.

Wickliffe never lost hope. Widemire hit a single of the left field fence to start the inning, followed by two walks being drawn by senior Vinny Gargiulo and junior Noah Dohm. Rhodes pulled their starter Juan Figueroa with bases loaded. He went six innings, allowed five runs, four earned, three walks, five hits, and struck out eight. After the pitching change, Bobby Plumb had an RBI single. Bases were still loaded with no outs. Next up Zivnoska drove in another run, followed by freshman Frankie Bucar who reached on an error, scoring the third run of the inning cutting the lead to 9-5. With bases still loaded a wild pitch brought Bobby Plumb home from third and for the second time in the game, the home plate umpire was in the wrong position and Plumb was called out at home, when he was clearly safe to everyone but the home plate ump. This was the second time in the game that a call was clearly missed and both were game altering calls. The Blue Devils could not overcome the large deficit in the end and two of their next three batters striking out with Nemeth fanning to end the game.

Wickliffe committed three costly errors and some mental gaffs, as well as some poor calls by the umpires that lead to costly innings. Rhodes moves to 1-1 on the year, while the Blue Devils drop to 0-1. Wickliffe’s next games are back-to-back Monday, April 3rd, and 4th both against the Brooklyn Hurricanes opening CVS play, with the first game being at Brooklyn and the ladder game at home in Wickliffe Coulby Park, both games are at 4:30 pm.

Wickliffe Players of the Game

Pitcher Colin Casey- 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 5 K

Catcher Jimmy Nemeth- 1 H (triple), 1 RBI, 1 Run, 1 caught stealing.
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​POSTED 03/30/2023 23:15