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HUDSON -- Twinsburg baseball's season came to a heart-wrenching end May 18 at The Ballpark at Hudson.
Taking on long-time rival Solon in a Division I district semifinal game, Twinsburg fell behind early, rallied to take a two-run lead late and then saw it disappear. In the end, the Tigers dropped an 8-7 loss in nine innings to the Comets.
Twinsburg's season ended at 17-12. Solon advanced to the district final May 19 at The Ballpark at Hudson, where it lost 4-3 to Aurora.
Tigers coach Don Jones admitted it was a very tough loss to take, noting the Tigers seemed to have the game won on several occasions.
"We didn't take advantage of our opportunities," Jones said. "If we made a couple of catches, the game's over.
"I never once said we don't compete," Jones added. "Our guys play hard all the time. They just play under a tremendous amount of pressure and it's a shame."
The two teams sent their respective aces to the mound, but neither Twinsburg's Ryan Christy or Solon's Casey Maniglia figured in the decision.
Christy, who is bound for Ohio University, went four innings, giving up five runs (four earned) off seven hits with two strikeouts.
Maniglia, a junior who has committed to North Carolina, lasted five innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on eight hits with three strikeouts.
Twinsburg outhit the top-seeded Comets 14-11, but Solon scored first.
In the bottom of the first inning, Solon center fielder Casey McCurry belted a double, followed by an RBI triple from Maniglia to make it 1-0.
It was the start of a big afternoon for McCurry, who hit three doubles and a single, scored three runs and also got the win on the mound in relief.
Twinsburg answered in the top of the second with some power of its own.
After a one-out single from first baseman Jake Carinci, catcher Chad Szydlowski belted a rarity: A two-run home run over the left field fence at The Ballpark at Hudson.
Solon struck back in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, the Comets got a single from Anthony Zavarella, a double from McCurry, an RBI single from Mike Tsironis, a two-run double from Maniglia and an error to make it 5-2.
Twinsburg was left frustrated, as it left the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth innings with no runs.
In the sixth inning, Twinsburg broke through.
After back-to-back singles from Dylan Jackson and Sean Williams, an error off the bat of Max Brazie allowed Jackson to score and chased Maniglia off the mound.
Second baseman Jason Stahlman greeted Solon reliever JT Caver with a two-run double to tie the game at 5-5.
Caver got the next two batters out, but Tiger center fielder Tyler Gairing hit an RBI single to make it 6-5.
Carinci, who relieved Christy in the bottom of the fifth inning, pitched a scoreless sixth inning and Twinsburg got an insurance run in the top of the seventh.
For the second straight inning, Jackson and Williams got back-to-back singles, followed by a walk to Brazie. Stahlman hit an RBI single to make it 7-5.
Twinsburg could have scored more, however, as it left the bases loaded for the third time in the game.
That proved crucial, as the Comets got two runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie it.
Zavarella singled and scored on an RBI double from McCurry. After a single from Tsironis, Maniglia drove in the tying run with a sacrifice fly to left.
Carinci was able to escape a bases-loaded to jam to force extra innings.
While both team had their chances, Solon found the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
A two-out double by catcher Joe Bubonics was followed by an intentional walk to designated hitter Jeremy Friedman. Third baseman Joe Paskall then hit a sharp liner which went for an error, allowing Bubonics to score the winning run.
Carinci took the loss after going 4.67 innings of relief, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits with three walks.
McCurry picked up the win, pitching three innings of relief, allowing one run on four hits.
Jones praised his senior class, as Szydlowski, Christy, Carinci, Gairing, Carson Leo, Cristian Tejada, Terrence Chambers and Carvonte Williams all graduate this spring.
"They're a great group of young men," Jones said. "Every year, it gets harder to come back from losses like this."