Canton, OH - Akron Hoban came into this District Semifinal looking to exorcise some demons from last season's state final match-up with the Hilltoppers. It didn't take them long to set the plan in motion. Parker Falkenstein led off the game with a double down the left field line, followed by Andrew Karhoff who singled up the middle to move Falkenstein to third. With 3-hole hitter Jordan Kievman at the plate, Karhoff moved up to 2nd on a stolen base and all of a sudden Hoban had 2 men in scoring position with no outs in the opening frame. Kievman joined the hit parade with a single to right before also stealing second. Chardon starter Nolan Kirsh was finally able to get the elusive first out when he struck out Michael Ciavolella looking. With one down, senior Nate Shimmel stepped to the plate and laced a single to right field loading the bases. Zach Zimmerman followed with an RBI single of his own to make the score 3-0. Kirsh settled in and struck out Leo Wilson and Brady Terzola to get out of the 1st with no further damage.
Chardon was able to get two men on in the bottom of the 1st inning with Will Francis drawing a lead-off walk and Jake Barker slapping a single through the right side of the infield but Hoban starter Andrew Karhoff was able to get out of the inning unscathed.
In the 2nd inning, Hoban used some two-out magic to grow the lead by 1. After a leadoff hit by pitch put Masud Jennings on the base path, Kirsh was able to strike out Falkenstien and Karhoff before surrendering a walk to Jordan Kievman. When it looked like Chardon would get out of the inning without yielding a run, Michael Ciavolella reached base on a throwing error by the 3rd baseman which kept the inning alive. Next up was Nate Shimmel who sent a rather routine grounder out to short. The shortstop opted to take the short route and toss it over to the 2nd baseman covering 2nd, but Ciavolella hustled to beat the throw, and everyone was safe, including Jennings as he crossed home plate.
Hoban added 2 more in the top of the 3rd and it looked like this one was about to get ugly. In the bottom half of the 3rd, with the scoreboard now reading 6-0, Chardon was finally able to string together a nice inning. Leading off the charge was 9-hole hitter Hunter Greco with a single to right field. Lead-off man Will Francis once more drew a walk and that brought Ethan Faber to the dish. Faber was able to send a screamer over the outstretched glove of Knights short-stop Leo Wilson, plating the first run for the Hilltoppers on the evening. Kirsh followed with a walk of his own to load the bases for Jake Barker. Barker was able to lift a fly ball to center field deep enough to bring home Francis to make it 6-2.
The Hilltoppers weren't done yet, following a Stone Fawcett ground out to the first baseman that moved runners up to 2nd and 3rd, Logan Gunnoe stepped to the plate and sent a single to the outfield, plating both runners and cutting the Knight lead to 6-4. All of a sudden, for the first time since the umpire yelled play ball, we had ourselves a ball game.
The 4th inning went quietly for both squads as it was the first inning that saw a 0 on the board for both. The 5th saw much of the same, with another set of 0's posted to the outfield scoreboard. Hoban however was able to plate two runners in the 6th inning apiece to grow the lead back to a comfortable 4 run advantage. Kievman was once again a catalyst for the Knights out of the 3-hole, starting the inning with a single to center field. Ciavolella followed with a deep drive to the right-centerfield alley, plating Kievman and giving Ciavolella a triple. Next up was Shimmel who sent a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Ciavolella.
Chardon again went quietly in the 6th, hampered by a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Greco following a Heath Fetchik single to lead off the inning. Hoban was able to add another insurance run in the top half of the 7th when Masud Jennings got on base with 1 out and swiped 2nd. He was able to advance to 3rd on a throwing error by the Hilltoppers catcher. Andrew Karhoff was able to get Jennings across to score on a fielders choice to the short stop.
With 3 outs remaining between the Knights and sweet redemption, Ethan Faber led off the Hilltoppers last at bats with a walk. It was another 6-4-3 double play however that squashed any hope of a late inning rally to get Chardon back into the game. Hoban Pitcher Jordan Kievman, who came in to relief Karhoff in the 4th inning, slammed the door shut when he got Jake Barker to send a pop fly to right field.
Hoban advances to face Massillon in the District Final Thursday evening at 5:00 PM at Thurman Munson Stadium in Canton, Ohio.