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Knoch's Sutton to play baseball at Walsh

Eli Sutton signs to play baseball at Walsh beside his parents, Lonnie and Melissa. This upcoming season will be Sutton's fourth starting at catcher for the Knights.

For as long as Knoch senior catcher Eli Sutton can remember, he's had a baseball glove.

After this season, he will move on to play at the next level, having recently signed on to attend Walsh University, a Division II school in North Canton, Ohio.

Sutton and his family visited the school in September and met some of the players and the staff. The catcher said that he didn't put much thought into going anywhere else.

“They were very welcoming,” he said. “It was very family-oriented. They were very close-knit and it was really everything that I could've asked for.”

Sutton estimates that he's been playing baseball for over a dozen years. He tried his hand at both basketball and football, as well, but neither compared to swinging the bat and throwing stingy baserunners out.

“Baseball was kind of my thing,” Sutton said. “That's where my heart was. I fell in love with it early.”

Sutton has played varsity and started behind the plate for the Knights since his freshman year. He likes to be in the middle of everything, overseeing the defense.

“I just kind of love that leadership aspect,” Sutton said. “The vocalization and stuff like that is big. If you can't really lead the game, it's not really a position that you can play.”

Assistant coach Steve Hall has been around the Knights' baseball program for two decades. He underlines Sutton's steadying presence and relationship-building with different pitchers.

“He knows when to go out and basically settle a pitcher down on his own,” Hall said.

A disciplined hitter with an understanding for the strike zone, Sutton can hit for both average and power, Hall said.

“He plays a ton of baseball,” said Hall, who added that the popularity of travel programs began picking up around 10 years ago. “I think high school baseball has changed where it's a really short season, but these guys are playing a ton of games in the summertime.”

Sutton has spent the past two years sharpening his skills while playing for Florida Travel Baseball.

“Getting to play around the east coast, really, getting to see people that are a lot different than local baseball (players),” Sutton said. “When you go down to the Georgias, the South Carolinas, that world is completely different.”

“When you have to deal with people that are looking at getting drafted out of high school, that pressure kind of gives you the confidence to deal with a lot of things that really won't stack up to that.”

In moving on to the college baseball diamond, Sutton joins a list of recent Knights to do so that includes Dylan Swarmer and Dominick Bucko, both at Youngstown State and Gannon's Alex Altmire.

“Eli is a hard worker,” said Hall. “He's put himself in a situation where he's getting an opportunity to go out and play (at the next level). I'm excited to see him continue his baseball career.”