Seneca East coach Frank Lamoreaux said he's been telling his players the same thing he's been telling them all season.
Today, the stakes are as high as they've been all season. The Tigers travel to Lorain to face Mogadore at 5 p.m. in the Division IV regional semifinals. It's Seneca East's first appearance in the regionals since 2000 and it is looking for its first regional final appearance since 1997.
The Wildcats return to the regional semifinals for the first time since 1997, when they advanced to the state semifinals for the second year in a row.
Though the regional game is a new experience to each group of players, Lamoreaux said he's keeping his team's philosophy simple.
"The kids practiced well this week," he said. "They know pitching and defense will keep you close."
In Mogadore, SE is facing a team that has won nine of its last 11 games. Lamoreaux said the Wildcats remind him of Calvert or Wynford, a solid team that has gotten hot at just the right time.
"They picked the most important time of the year to play well," he said. "Good athleticism, good speed."
Mogadore (14-10) enters with 63 steals, with Gary Strain's 13 leading four Wildcats - Bryce Huth with 11, Brady Douglas with 11 and Ryan Milush with 10 - in double digit swipes.
The Wildcats also enter with good hitters.
Sam Graska leads the attack with a .426 average and 15 RBIs, as well as 13 runs and seven doubles.
Joe Callihan backs him with a .391 average, 15 runs and 14 RBIs, while Strain is hitting .379 with 10 RBIs and a team-best 16 runs.
Milush (.301, 12 runs), Huth (.300, 20 runs) and Anthony Ricci (.286) have also contributed.
Nick Montecalvo is 8-5 on the mound with 79 strikeouts, and Derek Valenti enters 4-1 with 26 strikeouts.
Still, Lamoreaux said statistics only take you so far at this point.
"You can compare all you want to on paper, but once you step on the field, nobody knows anything about anybody," Lamoreaux said.