Meadville Tribune

Sports

April 2, 2014

Eagles win region opener vs. Grove City

LINESVILLE — Baseball teams in Region 6 are already familiar with Grove City ace Matt Gordon, the region’s reigning Pitcher of the Year.

One pitcher that may not be on everybody’s radar, however, is Conneaut’s senior lefty Chris McCann, who didn’t get to play baseball at all last year, suffering an ACL injury during basketball season.

Well, they’re going to know McCann’s name now. The two Eagles squads met up in Linesville on Wednesday and McCann, in his first game on the diamond since his sophomore year, out-dueled Gordon to lead the CASH boys to a 2-1 season-opening victory over the defending Region 6 champs.

“It was really a quick, straightforward game,” said Conneaut head coach Todd Greenawalt. “It was about the pitching. Matt Gordon is a great pitcher. He’s been one of the better pitchers in our league for years. He threw a nice game and so did our guy, Chris McCann.”

McCann allowed just two hits in the ball game, walked four and struck out nine for the victory.

“It was our first game, our first region game, I told coach I was going to go out there and just throw strikes and see what happens,” said McCann.

“(McCann) pitched a great game,” said Grove City coach Billy Herman. “My hat has got to go off to him.”

McCann had a no-hitter going into the fifth inning. GC’s No. 8 batter Kyle Shingledecker broke it up with a two-out single to the right-center gap.

Grove City had nearly halted the no-hitter in the fourth. With a man on first, clean-up batter Doug Horner knocked a pitch into shallow left center. But CASH shortstop Chase Gallo somehow got behind it, caught it off the bounce and then made the throw to second off his backside in time to get the runner.

Conneaut’s defense went on to play error-free for the ball game.

“I knew they had my back,” said McCann. “They made the routine plays. And Chase made a great play on that ball there (in the fourth). I thought it was getting through. He saved me there.”

Horner would get a base hit in the seventh, however, leading off with a single to right. Then Dustin Maine drew a walk to put the tying runs on board with no outs. And Jerod Sample sacrificed the two runners into scoring position.

Justin Thompson drove in Horner with a groundball to first, moving Maine to third and cutting Conneaut’s lead to 2-1.

That’s where the rally would end, though. McCann coaxed a pop-up from Shingledecker to end the game.

“Sometimes it’s tough to have your first game be a region game,” said Greenawalt. “We haven’t been outside much. But to win that first game against a quality team like Grove City is great. It’s great for our confidence.”

Conneaut’s offense, meanwhile, scored two runs on six hits and a pair of walks while striking out nine times against Gordon.

The local Eagles went up 1-0 in the first. Taylor Williams got things going with a one-out double. He was later brought around on an RBI single by Jon Onderko.

Conneaut tacked on the eventual game-winner in the fifth inning. Jeremy Santarelli led it off with a double. Damien Granda bunted courtesy runner Colt Fairbanks over to third. Then McCann hit into an infield error, allowing Fairbanks to score.

Williams ended up leading Conneaut with two hits. He also singled in the fifth. Gallo added a double in the sixth.

Grove City dropped to 1-2 with the loss, failing to follow up on Tuesday’s 11-10 walk-off victory over General McLane.

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