CLEVELAND — Amherst’s Seth Zavodny couldn’t help but think of former Cleveland Indian Kenny Lofton as he stood in center field Tuesday at Progressive Field.
Why wouldn’t he? Lofton, who starred on so many of the Tribe's best teams of the 1990s, was Zavodny’s favorite player growing up and now Zavodny was playing the same position in the same ball park where his hero had produced so many highlights over the years.
And even though the highlights were few and far between for Zavodny and his fellow Lorain County all-stars at the 2012 Northeastern Ohio Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Games, the experience and the memories were tough to beat.
“It was pretty awesome to be in center field where Kenny used to play and looking around and thinking he was on this same field and thinking about the plays he made out there,” Zavodny said.
More than 100 of the top high school baseball players in the Cleveland area converged on Progressive Field for the games in which seniors from across the region were divided into six teams named after past Cleveland championship baseball teams. Lorain County’s 17 all-stars teamed up with a trio of players from Hillsdale High School on the 1995 team.
The result was not so 1995-like, however, as the locals fell 14-3 to the 1954 Indians team, comprised primarily of players from western Cuyahoga and Medina counties.
Zavodny had the biggest hit of the day for the 1995 Indians, a triple to deep center to lead off the sixth inning. Zavodny came home to score when Bay’s Andrew Cooper unleashed a wild pitch.
Zavodny, who was safe on an error in his only other at bat, said it was tough to get back in the batter’s box more than a month after the high school season ended.
“I hit the batting cages a lot to get ready for this day but it’s still tough,” he said. “The pitch I hit for the triple, that was probably the first good fastball I saw over the plate today. I just went with the pitch and drove it in the gap.”
Columbia’s Zack Bican gave the 1995 Indians a 1-0 lead in the second, beating out a slow roller down the third-base line for an infield single. Bican than took advantage of two wild pitches from Westlake’s Ben Neumann to finish his trip around the bases.
“To be able to play one more high school baseball game, then to be able to play it at Progressive Field, this was just awesome,” Bican said. “It’s an adjustment playing here because of the dimensions and everything is different, but you don’t really care because you are looking around thinking, ‘Wow, the Cleveland Indians play here.’”
After the fourth inning, the Lorain County players had little to get excited about as the 1954 Indians scored 13 runs over the final four innings. The game, scheduled for nine innings, was called after eight innings due to a two hour and 30 minute time limit.
Elyria Catholic’s Stephen Saddler had the 1995 Indians only other hit, a one-out fifth-inning single.
The 1954 Indians were led by Buckeye’s Tyler Nichols and Midpark’s Kyle Heineke, who each scored two runs and drove in another two. Gilmour Academy’s Oliver Flesher drove in three runs for the 1954 Indians.
Solon’s Danny Sutyak was the winning pitche, while Elyria’s Troy Goscewski took the loss. Rock was the only 1995 Indians pitcher to throw a perfect inning.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.