LORAIN — Midview coach Scott Jalowiec got to see a different side of his ace starting pitcher, Eric Lauer.
After watching his senior breeze through the regular season and early playoff games without giving up as much as an unearned run, Jalowiec got to see how his left-hander responded to an opposing player crossing the plate.
He liked what he saw.
After the first three Rangers reached base, Lauer struck out the next six, ending the game with 14 whiffs in five innings in the Middies’ 7-3 Lorain District semifinal win at the Pipe Yard.
“It was pretty cool to see him face adversity and see what he was going to do,” Jalowiec said. “Do you fall apart and tank it because they scored or do you pull the hat down tight, go at them with your best and say ‘I still don’t think you can hit it?’ That’s what he did, he pulled down and he battled.”
Lauer, who improved to 8-0 with the win, could have done without the test.
“You can’t put in the paper what was going through my mind,” he said of the first inning. “I haven’t faced that this year, but I’ve seen it in the past. You can’t stop, have to keep trudging through it. You can’t curl up in a ball. It was a little disheartening to let a run go past, but it had to happen sometime. We won, that’s what’s important.”
Midview’s bats took control early. They chased Lakewood starter Brian Hrdlicka after just a third of an inning. All nine Middies reached base in the first and they scored five runs, all charged to Hrdlicka. All three outs came via fielder’s choices.
“I thought he had good stuff,” Lakewood coach Mike Ribar said of his starter. “You can’t walk the leadoff hitter...that always puts you in a hole. Things just didn’t work out for him and we had to make a quick switch because you can’t get down too many against Lauer.”
After Lakewood scored its run in the bottom of the first, Lauer locked in. He threw 30 pitches in the first inning, then struck out the side on 10 pitches in the second. He struck out 11 of the next 14 Rangers before surrendering a pair of unearned runs in the fifth, leaving the game after five with a 7-3 lead and his season earned run average still at 0.00. He threw 102 pitches.
Kyle Warner and Steven Frye each threw one scoreless inning in relief of Lauer.
“Coming into today, if you would have told me I would have three runs at the end, I would have thought we had a good chance of winning,” Ribar said. “We just didn’t have a very good first inning. He hadn’t given up a run all year and we got three.
“Offensively, our strategy worked. We scored a couple of runs off him and got him out of there in the fifth, which is what our goal was.”
Lauer had three hits and drove in a pair of runs for Midview (21-6) while Cody Callaway added a pair of hits and scored a run. The Middies had 10 hits.
Senior shortstop Eric Roder had three hits in three at-bats against Lauer for the Rangers (22-6).
Midview will look for the first district title in school history today when it squares off with Avon Lake, a 5-0 winner over Amherst, at 6 p.m. at The Pipe Yard.
“We have the chance to be the best team in Midview history, and Midview has been around for a long time,” Jalowiec said. “We’re going to cherish that and do everything we can.”