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CUYAHOGA FALLS -- Anyone who hangs around the game of baseball long enough is going to see some unusual things happen.
Stow-Munroe Falls coach Aaron DeBord is a baseball lifer -- and he saw plenty of head-shaking results this past week.
Stow started the week by sweeping a home doubleheader with Normandy April 15, beating the Invaders 7-2 in game one and 4-2 in game two.
However, when it returned to Suburban League National Conference play April 17, Stow suffered a 4-1 loss at home to Hudson, as a late rally from the Explorers won them the contest.
The biggest result of the week took place April 18, as Cuyahoga Falls visited Stow and beat the Bulldogs 5-2 in eight innings.
After that disappointment, however, Stow rebounded with a 2-1 win over Twinsburg in six innings, as the game was shortened by rain.
Stow's record stood at 4-8, 2-6 in the National Conference as of press time.
DeBord acknowledged that Stow hasn't lived up to his expectations so far.
"The first half of the season has been a little bit of a struggle," DeBord said. "We like what we have. Like I said last year, we believe in our process. We believe in our players. We're not changing anything. We just need to be able to execute better."
Stow got solid pitching in both games with Normandy. In game one, Collin Lang got the win by pitching five innings, allowing three hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Colin Harris and Declan Ange each pitched a scoreless inning of relief.
Stow's offense was able to provide some run support in the game, as nine different different Bulldogs got hits in the game.
An RBI single from Max Stillisanon and an error gave Stow a 2-0 lead in the second inning, followed by any RBI triple from Matt Conger in the third inning.
Stow put up three runs in the fifth inning and added its final run in the sixth when Conger was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
In game two, Brett Rhodes started on the mound for Stow and pitched five scoreless innings, allowing just one hit. Normandy was able to get two runs off reliever Jack Miller, but Eric Schiling came on and got the save by pitching 1.67 innings of scoreless ball.
Stow had 10 hits in the game, but also left 10 men on base. The Bulldogs got an unearned run in the third inning, an RBI double from shortstop Nick O'Verko in the fourth, an RBI single from Harris in the fifth and a bases-loaded walk from Jordan Jolly in the sixth to account for their four runs.
"They're a young team, but they have some quality ball players," DeBord said of Normandy. "They competed well. They held us in check."
The game at Hudson was a pitcher's duel early between Stow's Stephen Falbo and Hudson's Johnny Merrill.
The Bulldogs managed to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Conger was hit by a pitch and stole second. Conger came home on an RBI single from Jolly.
"It was great to jump out to the lead," DeBord said. "Stephen Falbo was really pitching well. Late in the game, they started to play a little small ball on us. One play changed the ball game. It just went sour from there.
Stow committed four errors in the top of the fifth inning, which led directly to three Hudson runs. Hudson added a fourth run on a wild pitch in the sixth.
Merrill went the distance for Hudson, limiting the Bulldogs to just three hits with seven strikeouts.
DeBord said the Bulldogs squandered many opportunities in the loss to Cuyahoga Falls.
"It was another one of those game where we didn't get the big hit when we needed it," DeBord said. "You've got to give [Falls] credit. They fought all game. Falls deserved to win that game. They played better than us."
Stow took the lead in the first inning with a bases-loaded walk from Rhodes, but left the bases loaded in each of the first two innings. The Bulldogs' second run came in the bottom of the sixth, when two errors allowed Nick Arlequeeuw to score.
However, Falls rallied with an RBI single from Patrick Horrigan in the top of the seventh to force extra innings. Falls then got three runs in the top of the eighth to win it, as reliever Nathan Hallam took the loss for Stow.
Not only did Stow lose the game, but it lost its head coach, as DeBord was ejected in the fifth inning for arguing a foul-ball call which he said prevented a double.
The ejection meant DeBord had to watch from the stands for the Twinsburg game, but the coach noted his players responded.
"I think the Falls' game put a reality check into our kids that we needed to start doing the little things better," DeBord said. "They came with a different mindset like what we had last year. For the first time all season, we were better in the key situations."
Harris got the win on the mound, pitching four innings and allowing one run on three hits. Arlequeeuw got the save by pitching two scoreless innings before rain forced the game to be called in the bottom of the sixth.
Stow scored in the bottom of the first when Lang was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Lang also drove in the winning run on an error in the third inning.
Stow was set face to Midview April 21 and Uniontown Lake April 22, but results were not available at press time.
Stow's second game with Cuyahoga Falls April 20 was rained out and will be made up April 24 at Water Works Park. Stow will then host Brecksville-Broadview Heights April 25 and then travel to Brecksville April 26. First pitch for all games is at 4:30 p.m.