STRONGSVILLE — Hunter Olsen allowed just four hits, one run and didn’t walk a batter Tuesday for Elyria High.
It wasn’t enough.
Top-seeded St. Edward advanced to Thursday’s Division I district final with a 1-0 win over the Pioneers at Strongsville High School. St. Ed’s (19-9) will play Amherst, a 1-0 winner over Olmsted Falls in Tuesday’s second game.
The Eagles scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the first inning off Olsen. With two outs, Corey Stofko lined a single off the glove of Kevin Reddinger at second base and stole second. Conor O’Malley walked and pitcher Joe Horosko ripped a double past Cameron Brubaker at third base, scoring Stofko.
“My fastball, I could place it really well,” said Olsen, a junior. “My curve was feeling real good. I could place that pretty much wherever I wanted.”
Elyria’s defense was solid, as well. Zach Schuster dug a couple of low throws out of the dirt at first to record outs and Chris Willis made a couple of running catches in left field.
“I can trust them with my life,” Olsen said. “I believe in them all. Zach made some beautiful scoops — keep the runs down and saved us a couple of times. Hitting, we just couldn’t get any runs on the board.”
“Who would have thought it would be a 1-0 game?” St. Edward coach Matt Rosinski said. “I didn’t. Joey with the big hit early on and our defense and (Joe) was all we needed.”
Elyria coach Ed Piazza couldn’t find any fault in his Pioneers. He was proud of them and told them to walk off the field with their heads held high.
“They followed the scouting report,” he said. “They followed the game plan. It was just the first-inning thing. We still knew at that point, we could come back. (Horosko) was just phenomenal there.”
Phenomenal may be an understatement.
Horosko (6-2) was a one-man wrecking crew for St. Edward. Not only did he drive in the only run, he was practically unhittable. He allowed just one hit, a two-out single by lefty Hunter Osborne in the sixth inning, but Evan Engle’s chopper in front of the plate was fielded cleanly to end the threat.
Osborne’s single was the first hit Horosko had allowed in his last 13 1/3 innings. He struck out 11 Pioneers and walked only one — Max Peyton with one out in the third inning. Elyria only had two baserunners and only one, Ben McFrederick, made it into scoring position. McFrederick pinch ran for Peyton and stole second but was left stranded on fly outs by Reddinger and Osborne.
“It was something we didn’t see against Lakewood,” Piazza said of Horosko’s pitching performance in St. Ed’s first tournament game. “We just thought we were a better hitting team. I know we had his pitch count up. We were battling all day. He just mixed it up pretty well.”
Horosko threw 93 pitches.
“My curveball was working and I was able to blow my fastball by them,” Horosko said. “Personally, I felt they were guessing a lot, which helps. They didn’t know what was coming and that helped.”
“Senior stepped up big time,” Rosinski said. “That’s two games in a row he’s thrown a real nice game. He actually didn’t have his best stuff early on — there was a lot of foul balls. The first inning he threw 25 pitches but after that he settled in nicely.”
Eagles shortstop Blake Buzzeo took away a hit to start the fourth inning with a diving catch on Engle’s line shot up the middle. St. Ed’s also tracked down four fly balls and had no errors. The Pioneers put only 11 balls in play.
“I was hitting all my spots,” Horosko said. “My pitch count wasn’t too high. Even on 3-2 counts, where they’re fouling them off a lot, I wasn’t too worried. I’ve been in that situation a lot.”
It was the second year in a row the Eagles ended the Pioneers’ season. St. Edward defeated Elyria 7-5 in last year’s district semifinal at The Pipe Yard in Lorain before losing to Amherst in the final.
For Piazza, the end was tough to swallow, particularly with 10 seniors on the squad.
“They deserved better,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s because they knew it was the end of the year — so many seniors — but it’s been a different attitude. That’s all we can ask for. They gave it their shot. I’ve never been more proud of a group of guys.”