OBERLIN — Hopefully, Elyria Catholic baseball coach Bruce Lisicky didn’t lose any sleep worrying about Monday’s Division II sectional tournament opener against Lincoln-West.
The veteran Elyria Catholic coach thought he had the better team but he didn’t know anything about the 12th-seeded Wolverines.
The fifth-seeded Panthers put his mind to ease quickly in pounding and walking their way to a 24-0 win to advance to Wednesday’s sectional final against the winner of today’s Firelands-Padua winner. If Firelands wins, the Panthers will play on the road, but if Padua wins they’ll be at home.
How quickly? Well, it was 20-0 after the first inning.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” Lisicky said. “It’s tough to prepare like that. We’ll have practice (today) and refocus on the winner of Firelands and Padua.”
The positive for Lisicky was getting a number of reserves and freshmen a chance to play.
“Some kids that never played varsity all year got their first taste of varsity and they got to experience what it would be like in a tournament atmosphere,” he said. “I was kind of curious how this would go.”
Elyria Catholic (11-12) sent 24 batters to the plate in the first inning remove any doubt as to the outcome. The Panthers pounded out 14 hits and took advantage of three errors, eight walks and four hit batters in playing merry-go-round on the bases.
Only a leadoff walk to Walter Alvarez kept EC from a perfect game, albeit a four-inning one. Lincoln-West waved the white flag after getting each of its hitters at least one plate appearance.
Seniors Leighton Banjoff and Grant McClure quickly turned their thoughts to the next game. Both had two hits in two at-bats Monday, scoring twice each and combining for three RBIs.
“We definitely want to stay locked in and focused,” Banjoff said. “That’s my goal whether it’s practice or my dad throwing to me in my bat cage at home. Come gametime, I always want to stay locked in and prepare like every game is a championship.”
“For sure,” said McClure, the four-year starting catcher, when asked if he felt EC was playing its best ball of the season at the right time. “The biggest struggle we had at the beginning (of the season) was letting too many baserunners on — free bases. Now we’re back in the mindset of we just have to attack every batter and give nobody an easy way.”