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It's difficult to imagine a better start to one's varsity baseball career than the start that Nordonia freshman Michael Hamrick enjoyed March 27.
That's because not only did Hamrick homer twice in his first varsity game, but one of those dingers was a grand slam. His power display helped the Knights defeat Connellsville (Pa.) 7-3 in the first game of the season at the Cal Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
The Connellsville game was one of five contests that the Knights played at the Cal Ripken Experience. Hamrick finished with five RBIs against Connellsville, while senior Trey Crockett was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Senior Kyle Seither threw a complete game on the pitching mound for Nordonia. He allowed seven hits and three earned runs, while striking out eight batters.
"It was nice to be down there in warm weather, playing every day," said Nordonia head coach Drew Hoisington. "Up here [in Ohio], you're lucky to play twice in the first week of the season, but we got to play five consecutive games. We got some guys work on the mound, and we saw live pitching from a team other than our own."
On March 28, Nordonia downed Paintsville (Ky.) by the score of 4-2. Once again, Crockett had two hits, collecting a single and triple. In addition, senior Daniel Heiser singled twice, drove in a run, and scored a run. Sophomore Robby Levak registered a double, triple, a RBI, and a run scored.
Like Seither, Heiser went the distance on the mound. He allowed six hits and two earned runs while striking out six batters in the process.
On March 29, Nordonia battled Vandalia Butler, also an Ohio team. Vandalia blanked the Knights by the score of 8-0.
Nordonia only managed two hits in the ballgame. Junior Sammy Spagnola was the starting pitcher for the Knights. He hurled the first five innings, giving up three hits and three earned runs.
Junior Dylan Hiles tossed an inning in relief, allowing one run on one hit. Junior Nick Kovacs mopped up in the seventh frame, relinquishing one run on two hits.
On March 30, Nordonia clashed with Harlan County (Ky.), prevailing by a 9-1 margin. The Knights jumped in front early, plating seven runs in the opening frame.
Levak led the way with a 3-for-5 performance at the plate, driving in three runs and scoring a run. In addition, Heiser was 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs, and a run scored. Other major offensive contributors for the Knights were Hamrick (2-for-4, run) and sophomore Mason Mimms (two singles).
Senior Chris Nolan went six innings on the mound for Nordonia, allowing five hits and one earned run while striking out six batters. Hamrick pitched a scoreless seventh stanza, recording two strikeouts.
On March 31, Nordonia faced the fourth-ranked team in Illinois, Chicago Christian. The Knights dropped a 5-4 decision. Hamrick doubled and singled and scored a run, while Mimms doubled and had one RBI and Levak singled with a RBI.
Nordonia trailed 5-1 heading into the seventh inning. The Knights scored three runs to draw to within one. They had runners on second and third base with two outs, but were not able to tie the score or take the lead. "I like how we fought back in the last inning," said Hoisington. "This team has a lot of fight in it. I think we're going to be dangerous this season."
Junior Blake Williams threw the first five innings for Nordonia. He gave up three earned runs on nine hits. Kovacs tossed a scoreless sixth frame.
Nordonia is scheduled to play four games this week. The Knights traveled to Suburban League National Division foe Stow-Munroe Falls April 4. The following day, they hosted the Bulldogs. First pitch both days is at 4:30 p.m.
On April 7 at 4:30 p.m, Nordonia will visit Solon. On April 8 at 2 p.m., the Knights are slated to welcome division nemesis Hudson to town.
"We took a lot of positive things from this past week," said Hoisington. "I like where our team is after five games, and I'm excited to see where we go."