Danny Strodtbeck lifts Westlake Demons over St. Ignatius Wildcats

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Westlake’s Justin Runevitch, center, gets mobbed at home plate after hitting a leadoff home run Tuesday against St. Ignatius.

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Westlake's Matt Leonard leans back out of the way of a pitch in the second inning.

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Saint Ignatius pitcher Nick Fabian, left, and left fielder Shane Skuhrovec watch Westlake's Justin Runevitch’s home run ball fly over the fence in the first inning.

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Westlake's Mac Bilski gets hit in the back by Saint Ignatius pitcher Nick Fabian in the first inning.

WESTLAKE — Danny Strodtbeck needed two innings to find his rhythm under the lights on Tuesday, but pitched a gem when he got it throwing a complete game four-hitter as the Westlake Demons topped St. Ignatius 6-2.

Strodtbeck, who also went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored, went the distance giving up just two runs — both in the first inning — on four hits and struck out seven Wildcats for his first win of the season.

“I just wanted to keep my composure, keep going on into the game,” Strodtbeck said. “I just let it go, just let the game come to me.”

Strodtbeck gave up two runs in the first on a two-run triple by Nick Longo for St. Ignatius’ (5-5) only runs of the game. His teammates picked him right back up in the bottom of the first as Justin Runevitch homered to left field and a bases-loaded hit batsman allowed Strodtbeck, who walked to reach base, to score and tie the game at 2.

Runevitch led the Demons’ offense, going 3-for-3 with two RBIs, but his home run helped shift the momentum towards Westlake.

“That was huge,” Westlake coach Brendan Zepp said. “Yesterday we had three hits and lost 2-1. Today, we get down 2-0 early and he gets a big hit. It just charged the whole offense, like, ‘Here we go. We’re going to make something happen now.’”

Westlake grabbed a 3-2 lead in the second inning on a Runevitch RBI single which scored Dylan Crocker. Runevitch’s single chased St. Ignatius starter Nick Fabian, who lasted just 1 1/3 innings while struggling with his control, throwing very close to the hitters several times before he was pulled.

Runevitch scored on a throwing error in the bottom of the fourth to give his team a 4-2 lead. An RBI single from Andrew Kettel and a bases-loaded walk to Connor Meek gave the Demons a 6-2 lead.

Strodtbeck did the rest, as he retired eight straight hitters at one point to shut down the Wildcats’ hitters. His strong performance came after he struggled last week against Avon Lake, lasting only 1 1/3 innings due to control problems in a 12-9 Westlake loss.

“Our pitching coach talked to him and said, ‘Danny, settle down. Pitch your game. You don’t have to be perfect,’” Zepp said. “He was getting ahead. When Danny gets ahead, he can throw that offspeed pitch and keep the hitters off balance. He got ahead and he pitched with a lead. That’s what he does well.”

Zepp knew from scouting reports that the Wildcats’ pitchers have struggled at times finding the zone and prepared his team to watch for it.

“Ignatius is a really good team, and they’re going to get better. I know they’re going to be tough,” Zepp said. “We knew to be patient with them because they’re having trouble with the zone, throwing strikes.

“I told my hitters to be patient, look for fastballs. And it worked out pretty well.”

Westlake’s patience at the plate paid off as all nine hitters reached base at least once despite just six hits as a team.

“When everyone does better, everyone just gets in a greater mood,” Runevitch said. “When everyone’s in a better mood, everyone just plays a lot better — defense, offense, everything, pitching.”

The two teams met in the Division I Regional Semifinals last season at Case Western, and the Demons came out ahead with a 6-4 come-from-behind win.

Westlake 6, St. Ignatius 2

Non-Conference

St. Ignatius (5-5) 200 000 0 — 2 4 3

Westlake (5-3) 210 300 x — 6 6 2

TWO HITS OR MORE — St. Ignatius: Conor Hennessey; Westlake: Justin Runevitch (3), Danny Strodtbeck; 2B — W: Strodtbeck; 3B — SI: Nick Longo; HR — W: Runevitch; WP — Strodtbeck (1-0); LP — Nick Fabian.

Last Updated: 4/17/2013 12:12:11 PM EST

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