Chaminade Julienne baseball falls in D-2 state semifinals

AKRON — The pain inflicted by the top of the seventh inning will forever be felt by the Chaminade Julienne baseball team.

The Eagles took the field with a 2-0 lead and junior Jackson Frasure working on a one-hitter. Then baseball things happened, and the Eagles slowly packed their gear and left Canal Park on Friday with a 4-2 loss to Chagrin Falls Kenston in the Division II baseball semifinals.

“To come up this short hurts,” CJ senior shortstop J.P. Peltier said. “Thought we were bound for the state championship again and let it slip away.”

Baseball things you don’t see coming — tired legs, balls suddenly finding holes, stealing home — ambushed the Eagles in the seventh. The Bombers (20-11) will play Ontario (17-14) at 4 p.m. Saturday for the championship.

“That one hurts and is probably gonna hurt for a while the way we lost it,” head coach Todd Barhorst said.

Frasure wasn’t aware of it, but he had a no-hitter until a one-out double in the sixth inning. Barhorst kept tabs on his big right-hander as he approached 100 pitches.

“Sixth inning he said he was still good, seventh inning he adamantly said I want the last inning,” Barhorst said.

Kenston pitcher Parker Munday began the seventh with a ground-ball single to right. Frasure got the next batter on a popout. Then a single to left put Frasure, his legs tiring, in his biggest jam of the game.

“He was missing close on a few, real close,” Barhorst said. “Went 2-0 the fourth batter and signaled to me that it’s time to switch it.”

Charlie Hoagland, who would have started Saturday’s championship game, came in from center field and allowed a walk to load the bases. Then it all fell apart. Carter Flynn’s two-run single, L.A. Mighton’s one-run single and Flynn stealing home when catcher Julian Eversole tried to pick Mighton off first left the Eagles stunned.

The Eagles put one runner on in the seventh, but Munday finished his two-hitter with his 12th strikeout. The only hits were singles by Jacob Brunner and Patrick Gonter-Dray in the fourth that produced the Eagles’ second run.

Munday, who has committed to pitch at Akron, kept the Eagles off balance with curveballs and fastballs in the low 80s. The Eagles scouted him online and faced lefties and curveballs this week in practice. They knew he had struck out 14 in each of his last two games, but they thought they were ready for him. Munday was better in person.

“He was just deceptive,” said Peltier, who put the Eagles up 1-0 in the first when he walked, stole second and scored on the play because of two throwing errors. “On the radar it wasn’t real hard, but he tunneled stuff well, and it just got on you a little bit. He was hitting spots and wasn’t leaving anything over the plate.”

Frasure routinely hit 88 and 89 mph with his fastball. He only struck out three but kept the Bombers quiet for six innings on ground balls and fly balls that the Eagles handled flawlessly.

“It was surreal the first time ever being on big stage like this just trying to do what I can to help this team win and get the next pitch over,” Frasure said.

In the seventh, things changed.

“I think nerves kind of got to me a little bit,” he said. “Lost a little bit of control. It’s just baseball. It happens.”

Peltier was down on himself for not doing more with his bat, but he loved how Frasure gave them a chance to win.

“I love that guy,” he said. “That kid works harder than anyone I’ve ever met. We’re working out five days a week all winter long. He’s human. he pitched an amazing game. I couldn’t be prouder.”

The Eagles were trying to win their third state title in six years. They were runner-up in 2017 and won it in 2018 and 2019. They were preseason No. 1 in the state in 2020 with 10 seniors, but the season was canceled because of the COVID pandemic.

Barhorst and his staff had to start over with teaching the players the program culture and the way he wants the game played. As preparation for this season began, the coaches talked quietly about how they expected a state run.

After the game, Barhorst told the team: “The culture of CJ is back where it belongs not just a regional powerhouse but a state powerhouse. And that’s a great thing, and that took a lot of work out of everybody involved to get us back here again.”

It was almost enough to play for a championship. But baseball’s nature of giving you hope and taking it right back struck in the seventh. Peltier felt the pain as he fought off tears, but he appreciated the day nonetheless.

“It’s part of the game,” he said. “That’s why I love it.”

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