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Gerhardt Back With Lexington

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Taylor Gerhardt

 

          Lexington has a new coach that was their old coach.

          Taylor Gerhardt is back to lead the Minutemen after a brief two year retirement.

          He says the stars just sort of lined up.  “As they say it never really leaves your blood.  When I stepped away I did it for family reasons and things that needed my attention.  I didn’t ever think I would be back, but you never know what life is going to give you from year to year.  The opportunity came to me again.  Of course, I talked to the most important people my wife, my kids and my family.  We had things settled enough that I felt comfortable that I could devote enough time to run a program and had their support.  The next thing you know I’m back.  You just never know what plan the big guy has for you upstairs,” said Gerhardt.

          This summer rules were relaxed when it came to coaches contact with kids and Gerhardt says they were able to take advantage of that to install a new offense and defense.  “We really took advantage of that with a new staff and we are running a different defense and our offense is different.  It was really a blessing for us as a staff to get to know the kids to actually practice in June instead of just focusing on conditioning was really valuable to us.  We definitely took advantage of that this year.  I think it was more because of our situation as a new staff and bringing different things to the kids.  It was a real blessing to have that time to use to install that stuff,” he said.

          Gerhardt says this summer the players have gotten themselves in good condition, which is key, and they become good students of the game too.  “One thing that my football team will be is well conditioned.  I think that is an extremely important thing because I ask our kids to play fast and I ask them to play to the echo of the whistle and I also think it helps with safety and injury prevention.  The more conditioned you are the less possibility of something happening injury wise out there.  They really answered that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I was really impressed with how they were ready to grab ahold with both hands and fully dedicate themselves to getting in shape, but also about how they just delved in as students of the game and learning the different terminology offensively and defensively and even special teams wise.  I was just very, very impressed with this group.”

 

Published 7/27/21

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Fredericktown Headed in the Right Direction

Click here to listen to an interview with coach William Hartley

 

          Football has been a tradition at Fredericktown and hopefully they are going to return to their winning ways.

          There are some positive signs pointing in that direction.

          They host Clear Fork in a non-conference game on August 20th to begin the season.

          Coach William Hartley says their kids, and the fans, are ready for a return to normalcy when it comes to high school football.  “I think that was been a big theme that we have had throughout the off season, especially the last three weeks or so getting into camp days and seven on seven. The kids are really excited.  We have a good turnout at seven on sevens as far as fans in the stands.  I think everybody is just excited to get back to normal and be in the stands and just watch the kids play,” he said.

          There were opportunities due to a losing of rules from the OHSAA this summer, but Hartley says things were pretty normal with the Freddies.  “We added a couple days here and there.  We stuck with our general program and our general philosophy and that is in the bulk of June we have lifting, but as far as organized practices that is reserved for basketball.  In July we continue with lifting and start focusing more on football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “At a school our size we have a lot kids that are multi sport athletes and we encourage that.  We really didn’t want to disrupt that routine that we have had for many years.  It has worked for us and it has worked for kids as well.”

          Fredericktown (3-7) in 2020 looks to improve this year.  Hartley says the dedication is there and that usually leads to good things for the program as a whole.   “Going all of the way back to January we have had tremendous buy in in the off season program.  The kids have really lifted hard and worked on their agility and speed.  We have made a lot of gains.  Our numbers are up.  We have carried that through into the summer.  We have just made a lot of gains in the right direction and now we just have to put it all together as we start to get closer to actually playing ball,” said Hartley.

 

Published 7/27/21

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Buckeye Central Ready to Battle

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Chad Jensen

 

          They are smallest school in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference, but the Buckeye Central Bucks will come to play every week this football season.

          Their season begins in less than a month on August 20th at Crestline in a non-conference game.

          The Ohio High School Athletic Association allowed coaches unlimited contact this year, but Bucks coach Chad Jensen says they went about things as normal.  “It really wasn’t any different.  We share our kids with basketball and baseball.  Most of our kids play two sports, a lot of them play three, so didn’t do where June and July was just all football two of three days a week, we didn’t do that.  We expect a lot of our kids in all of those sports.  We did baseball and basketball in June and then at the end of June and into July we did football.  So, basically it was no different than any other year,” said Jensen.

          Jensen, who is also the head baseball coach at Buckeye, says he was impressed with the dedication that he saw this summer.  “Our kids are working hard.  Our kids show up three days a week in the weight room, they show up for our coaching days and they do everything we ask them to do.  If they are not in the weight room, then they communicate with me and tell me where they were.  Very few absences where we didn’t know where they were, actually not any.  So, we have been pretty fortunate our kids come hard every day and work hard every day.  They really want to have a successful season,” he said.

          Buckeye was (3-7) last year, winning two of its last four games and they beat Bucyrus (54-10) in a conference game.

          Their first “N10” game is September 10 at Seneca East.  Jensen says they just want to be competitive.  “Our league is very tough.  Our numbers are down a little this year, a little bit with a couple of smaller classes that we have, but that is something we always battle at Buckeye Central, it’s not anything new.  We just want to get the most out of our kids every week and we have always had that.  No matter how many numbers we have had our kids play hard each week against whoever we play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “For us we just want to build on what we started last year.  Our kids got a little bit of taste of success.  We have seen this summer that they kids expect to be successful and just build on that in the scrimmages, the non-league and we will see where everything falls for us.”

 

Published 7/27/21

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Edison Edges Colonel Crawford in Extra Innings

 

          Edison scored twice in the top of the eighth inning then retired Colonel Crawford with bases loaded in the bottom half to come away with a (6-5) win in the division III district final played on Saturday afternoon in Shelby.

          The Chargers got a back to back hits from Blake Simon and Clint Finnen off Crawford starter Cade Hamilton to start the eighth inning.  Brennen Hamilton then replaced his older brother on the mound and he failed to make the play on a bunt attempt by Xander Danner and threw down the rightfield line, allowing Blake Simon to score the go ahead run.  Thomas Simon followed with an RBI single to make it (6-4) Edison.

          In the bottom of the eighth, the Eagles (25-3), got a leadoff walk from Mason McKibben and single by Brock Ritzhaupt, but Edison reliver Joey Pannell got Cyler Hoepf on a force out and struck out Miccah Thomas.  He then walked Nolan McKibben and Cade Hamilton to force in a run and make it (6-5) with the bases still loaded.  However, for the second game in a row, Pannell got the biggest out of the game when he induced a ground ball to shortstop from Carson Feichtner.

          Edison coach Sean Hoover says his team kept battling.  “We got down early 3-0 and we just came in an we fought hard.  I don’t know if it was some of the other action in that inning that made them refocus.  They really seemed to be focused and we got one back.  We just kind of chipped away and we had a lot of good at bats.  You want your team to come out and realize that this is a game between really good teams and things are going to go back and forth all of the time,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “If you keep battling, I have been in enough of these, that strange things happen sometimes.  You don’t want to get too high or too low.  We did a great job of coming out and getting the job done.”

          Colonel Crawford scored three times in the third inning on a double by Thomas, and RBI single by Nolan McKibben, who then scored on error.  Then Finnen tried to throw Cade Hamilton out at the plate on a slow chop by Feichtner rather than making an easier throw to first to retire the side and Hamilton was called safe.

          Edison got one back in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Luke Bissell.  They tied the game (3-3) in the sixth when Danner and Thomas Simon reached on errors and Noah Smith connected on a two run single.

          Edison took a (4-3) lead in the sixth on a hit by Blake Simon, a passed ball, a balk and a RBI single by Finnen.  Crawford would tie in the bottom of the sixth on a single by Brennan Hamilton, a sacrifice by Mason McKibben and a RBI single by Hoepf.

          The Eagles loaded them in the bottom of the seventh with nobody out and failed to score when Drayton Burkhart and Brennan Hamilton strut out and a runner was retired in a rundown between third and home on a failed suicide squeeze.

          Hoover says they were able to escape a couple of times.  “We got out of a couple of jams and I not really sure how we got out of them.  We managed to keep them off the board a couple of times with guys on base and not many outs on the board.  Maybe with the bases loaded and nobody out (in the seventh).  That was big and we kind of carried the momentum into the next inning.  We got a bloop and an even shorter bloop and strung a couple of hits together and got some guys in,” said Hoover.

          Colonel Crawford coach Dan Gorbett identified the bases loaded and not out situation in the seventh when they didn’t score as a key.  “That’s when we loaded the bases and couldn’t score.  It just seemed like couldn’t get that big hit, ground out or sac fly.  They were able to get a couple of hits that just fell in.  They are all hits, I’m not berating them for that.  They seemed to get the bat on the ball and get the runs in and we couldn’t do that.  We had opportunities,” said Gorbett.

          Thomas also tagged out at home to end the fifth in what appeared to be a steal attempt.

          The Eagles also made four errors, three of them at key moments and Gorbett says you can’t do that in district finals and expect to win.  “Our defense was horrible (Saturday).  We have talked about at tournament time you have to play good defense.  They were bad errors.  They are routine plays that we were making errors on.  If you want to win a championship, you just can’t do that,” he said.

          Thomas Simon has been Edison’s ace all season, but he was not available after throwing 125 pitches in beating Margaretta (3-1) in Thursday’s semifinal.

          Hoover says Blake Simon and Pennell did an outstanding job.  “Blake (Simon) did a great job out there and Joe Pennell came in and did an awesome job at the end in closing the game out.  Maybe not as quick as he closed the game out on Thursday.  He was a little more nervous this time.  We have all of those young guys that we have had to depend on.  Thomas (Simon) obviously doesn’t throw every single day.  They have been put in some big spots in other games already this year.  I think that helped them keep their composure and throw pitches when they needed to,” said Hoover.

          Crawford left nine runners in scoring position in the game.  Gorbett says the didn’t get the key hits and Edison did.  “It’s a good program and they battled and won.  We had the bases loaded and no outs and don’t score and they do the same thing and get a couple in.  They made it happen and we didn’t,” he said.

 

Published 5/29/21

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Colonel Crawford Trims Genoa; Moves on

 

          Drayton Burkhart was dominate again for the Colonel Crawford Eagles on Thursday afternoon as he allowed no earned runs on five hits and Crawford downed Genoa (4-2) in a division III district semifinal at Shelby High School.

          They return to Shelby Saturday afternoon to face Edison, a (3-1) winner over Margaretta Thursday, for the district title.

          Genoa loaded the bases in the first, but Burkhart got a strikeout to end the threat.  He also stranded runners on second in the third, fourth, and fifth, before the Comets broke through for a couple unearned runs in the sixth. 

          Coach Dan Gorbett calls him a warrior.  “That kinds of describes him his entire career.  I just feel they way he pitches and he competes.  The look he gives me when I say, hey, can you make it all seven tonight?  It’s like get out of my face coach, that’s a stupid comment, and I just kind of laugh, and say okay, and I’ll go back to the dugout.  That’s what he did against Oak Harbor too.  I thought he had pretty good stuff (Thursday).  Against Oak Harbor he was always in trouble.  He just battled and got outs when he needed it,” said Gorbett.

          Genoa stranded seven runners in scoring position and coach Gary Nissen says they just couldn’t get the big hit.  “You never know when that is going to happen, especially in high school ball.  It could have been just as easy that that one goes 10 feet farther and drops and it is 4-3.  I am proud of our guys, they came out and played hard. We just didn’t get those hits to fall when we needed them, that’s all,” he said.

          The Eagles (25-2) got on the board in the third when Mica Thomas walked and was sacrificed to second by Nolan McKibben.  The Comets then intentionally walked Cade Hamilton.  Carson Feichtner then responded with a two run hit.

          Then in the fifth, Hamilton walked and Feichtner doubled down the leftfield line to score him.  Burkhart then scored Feichtner with an single up the middle.

          Gorbett says in the postseason you have to get clutch hits.  “I was hoping to get an extra one there in that safety squeeze and that didn’t quite workout.  When you play good teams anytime you can squeeze runs here and there that is what you want to do.  They did the right thing not pitching to Cade and then Fiechner came up huge.  He is a great hitter too.  Those were big plays there,” he said.

          Gorbett says he isn’t surprised that Genoa walked Hamilton.  “That has happened throughout the year.  Cade is such a disciplined hitter, so he has 30 some walks.  If you don’t throw him a strike, he is going to be on first and probably steal second, so it is kind of like a double.  He understands some games he is going to be able to hit and sometimes he has to help the team in other ways,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “Speaking of Cade, is that a great catch there by the fence.  I didn’t think anybody could get that.  That was an outstanding play on his part.  Getting that first out of the last inning is so important.”

          Genoa again would get two runners on board in the seventh, so that circus play by Hamilton was key.

          Again, the Eagles stole a couple of bases Thursday, they were picked off once too, but Gorbett says they want to stay aggressive.  “Mica, I saw him leaning in that first inning and that kid had a nice pickoff move, so my hat is off to them.  You have to go to your strengths and that’s what we try to do,” he said.

 

Published 5/28/21

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Edison Holds Off Margaretta

 

          Edison shut down a possible Margaretta rally in the seventh inning and beat the Polar Bears (3-1) in a division III district semifinal on Thursday evening at Shelby High School.

          They face Colonel Crawford, a (4-2) winner over Genoa in Thursday’s first semi, on Saturday afternoon for a ticket to the regional tournament.

          Lefty Thomas Simon had went the first six and two thirds innings, striking out eight Bears in the process and allowing only an unearned run, but he had reached the pitch limit.

          Coach Sean Hoover says reliever Joy Pennell was up to the task of striking out Margaretta’s Kellen Moore on three pitches.  “There really wasn’t much of a choice as we had Thomas (Simon) at 125 pitches.  You have to pull him at 125.  They said they had him at 122 and he maybe could have thrown to another batter.  I didn’t want to risk it, they were trusting us to keep the book.  We had him at 125 and I was going to go out there and let Joe come in and he did his job.  He has been prepping all year coming in big spots and he came through,” said Hoover.

          It wasn’t the first time this year Pennell was given the task and Hoover says mentally he was ready to go.  “I went down and talked to him before the inning started to make sure he had the right mind set because I figured unless it was a quick inning we were going to have to go to him.  He said, I’m ready and he went out there and did a really good job.  That has kind of been his role this year is to come in and get those last couple of outs.  He takes it really serious.  He was focused and threw three great pitches,” said Hoover.

          Simon was his usual self on Thursday.  Hoover says he permits some baserunners, but then shuts them down.  “He is obviously our horse.  He always keeps us in games.  They get guys on base and he is good enough to keep them where they are and not let little rallies turn into big rallies.  We have confidence in him, but we have a lot of good young pitchers too.  We hope some of them show up on Saturday,” he said.

          Simon is a strikeout pitcher and it likely to throw more pitches than some.  Hoover says Margaretta did a good job taking him deep in counts.  “I think sometimes when you strikeout as many guys as he does your pitch count goes up where if you have a guy that doesn’t strikeout as many, he is more of a pitch to contact guy, he doesn’t have those high pitch count numbers.  He throws balls by guys and Margaretta did a good job of fouling them off,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “They did a good job of battling and fouling balls off.  I could tell that was their plan.  That been their approach all year with Thomas.  They did a good job of really fighting off pitches.”

          Edison took a (2-0) in the bottom of the second on a two out, two run, single by ninth place hitter Blake Simon.  Hoover says the pressure of a district game did not overwhelm the freshman.  “It was big for Blake to step up there for a freshman to get that hit and score a couple of runs.  We have a lot of god young players here that have played a lot of situation baseball, so when they get up there they know how to handle themselves in those situations.  Did a great job of getting the barrel on it and we were able to score a couple,” said Hoover.

          Margaretta cut it to (2-1) in the fourth when Moore scored on an error.  Edison got it right back in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Luke Bissell.

          Margaretta coach Ray Neil says his kids did everything he asked them to do and more.  “I don’t if this makes sense, but I might be prouder of my team, the losing team, than that coach is of the winning team.  My kids competed all day.  That is a kid that shoved it up our butt two times earlier in the year and we talked about a challenge all week.  It’s a game of inches.  The inning they scored the two runs.  The first batter that inning, the ground ball to the shortstop, that took a bad hop.  I told my freshman shortstop, that took a bad hop, that’s not on you.  They got a big, two out base hit in that inning.  We had a couple of chances to match that and it didn’t happen.  It wasn’t because my kids didn’t battle or give me good at bats.  Those first two batters in the seventh inning, how about them at bats?  Against one of the top pitchers in the area,” said Neil.

 

Published 5/28/21

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Fredericktown With Walk off Win in District Final

 

          Fredericktown scored three times in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally and upend Amanda Clearcreek (4-3) in a division III district final played on Thursday evening in Fredericktown.

          Xavier Mullens two run hit brought home the winning runs for the Freddies, who advance to play Barnesville in the regional semifinals next week.

          They trailed the entire game until the final play and coach Ryan Hathaway says they were resilient.  “The way they stuck with it throughout the game.  We had a lot of plays where they made really good plays on us,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I guess we could have been done in some points in our game when we got down, but just to see them continue to keep fighting and to find a way in the seventh inning to get a win was just awesome.”

          Kaid Carpenter scored the winning run for the Freddies and Hathaway says he got in just under the tag for that final tally.  “It was one of those things that just happens and all of the sudden we have won.  The umpire just kind of paused and made the call and it was right.  We have a picture right now on our Facebook and it was pretty close as far as the catcher was a step from probably getting him.  It was a great game.  It was a hard fought game by both teams,” he said.

          Carpenter also pitched all seven innings of the Freddies (24-5) and Hathaway says he really stepped up to the occasion.  “He ends up going seven innings.  We knew that Cadie that is the kind of ball player that he is.  He is a competitor and he has pitched a lot of big games as kid of being the guy in that class that has always been the guy to pitch the big games.  It was his time to shine and he stepped up and it was just awesome to see him compete,” said Hathaway.

 

Published 5/28/21

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Bellevue Knocks off Huron

 

          Bellevue scored five times in the fifth inning and downed Huron (7-3) in a division II district semifinal played at Fremont Ross High School on Thursday evening.

          They play Vermilion, a (7-2) winner of Perkins on Thursday, on Saturday afternoon again at Fremont Ross.

          After falling behind (2-0) after two innings, Keegan Ray took over on the mound and allowed just one hit and one unearned run the rest of way for the Redmen.

          In that fifth inning, the bunt was a big weapon for the Redmen.  Brad Miller and Ray had back to back bunts to plate runs.  Mason Bova had an RBI hit.  Then Jayden Mays bunted another one home.  The final run of the inning came home when Adam Hosang was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

          Coach Andy Dennings says after a slow start they found their grove a little bit.  “Huron is a very good team.  We saw them a couple of weeks ago and we knew we would have our hands full (Thursday), but the kids really battled.  We got down 2-0.  It was something we haven’t done for a while, we had problems throwing strikes.  I think we had six walks in two innings, so to walk out of there 2-0 after two is probably a victory for us.  Once we settled in and started getting some good at bats we puts some balls on the ground.  We have been trough a lot this year and we persevered through a bunch.  So, it was a really good win for us,” said Dennings.

          Bellevue (15-14) has started to play their best baseball at the right time of the season.  Dennings says they just aren’t making as many mistakes.  “We have won six in a row against some good teams.  We had some trials and tribulations the first half of the year.  We weren’t a great baseball team.  If we get to pick what part of the season we get to play well, I am definitely going to pick the back.  We talked about keep believing things are going to get better,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We have cleaned up a lot of our miscues here.  We don’t kick it nearly as much.  We don’t walk people as much.  (Thursday) we got off to a rough start, but Keegan kind of closed the door there.  We are just a better baseball team now.  We are excited to be in a district final.”

          Vermilion (23-6) beat Bellevue twice during play in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, (11-2) on March 31 and (10-3) on April 19.

          It has been more than a month since they played the Sailors and Dennings knows they are a better team.  “They are good.  They have beaten us twice.  We know we have our hands full, but we also know we are better than early in the year when they got us.  We are going to have to play well.  They are very deep pitching wise.  They do a nice job over there and are always extremely competitive.  We are excited to have the challenge.  We will put our best foot forward.  Hopefully, after seven innings we are winning and we can move on to regionals,” he said.

 

Published 5/28/21

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Madison on Fire

 

          Madison is a very confident softball team right now and that showed again on Wednesday afternoon.

          They continued to rally when down and beat Lima Shawnee (9-8) when Paige Mowery doubled in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning.

          Madison plays Lagrange Keystone, an (8-2) winner over Wauseon Wednesday, Saturday afternoon in the division II regional final at Tiffin University.

          Madison trailed (3-0) in the first, (7-5) in the fifth and (8-6) in the sixth, but they never gave up.

          Coach Tim Niswander says they are hitting all through the lineup.  “All nine kids that got in the lineup got at least one hit.  Multiple kids had two hits or three hits.  Got a game winning hit out of Paige Mowery, who is our nine hitter and our right fielder.  Hope Barrett has been absolutely on fire for the last week.  She is seven for her last eight and had three hits.  We are getting contributions all of the way through the lineup.  We had another error free game.  I told them a long time ago at this time year you have got to be error free, you have to have quality at bats.  If you don’t do those two things you are not going to have a chance.  We did both of those things and gave ourselves a chance and came up big at the end,” Niswander.

          Madison is blazing right now and Niswander says it no secret formula, no magic dust, it’s just execution.  “We are hot at the right time, that’s for sure.  It’s a matter of our kids getting older and understanding what we are asking them to do and getting more experience and getting more confidence.  There are teams like Keystone that have only lost one game all year, so you can say they have been hot all year.  It took us some time.  Now, that we have established that we are okay I think the kids are playing with a lot of confidence now.  You can say we are hot at the right time, but at the same time we are just doing what we do and we are doing it at the best of our ability and it seems to be working out for us right now an hopefully it continues,” he said.

          Madison (17-14) is the underdog again against Keystone, who has outscored its tournament opponents (50-3), but Niswander says their dugout believes.  “We have seen some really good pitching.  Amherst is in the regionals.  Mt. Vernon made it to the regionals.  Kennedy Kay (of Norwayne) is going to be Ohio State’s number one next year.  We have seen really good pitching.  We want to see those kids.  You may not beat them, but at this time of year now when we get into the tournament I can say, hey, this kid does the same things that this person did that we have already played.  It gives the kids a sense of calmness because they know they have already seen it and some of them have already had success against it,” he told Swankosports.com, “Some of them that already have success against it are now at the point where they think if they make some adjustments, they will do better the next time through.  That is kind where they want to be.  That is why you play the tough teams.  I told them last week that nobody expects a team with 14 losses to win a regional game, but here we are.  Nobody expects a team with 14 losses to make it to the final four, but at least we have that opportunity now.”

 

Published 5/27/21

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Snyder Leads Mohawk Past South Central

 

          Landen Snyder threw a complete game five hit shutout and Mohawk trimmed South Central (1-0) in a division IV district semifinal played on Wednesday evening in Galion.

          They will play Arlington, who beat Plymouth (4-2) in the nightcap, in the district title game at Galion on Friday evening.

          Snyder had no walks and three strikeouts.  Coach Eric Hoover said he was a strike throwing machine.  “He had a great outing.  He was very efficient.  I think he ended with just over 50 pitches, 53 is where we had him.  49 would have been great because then he could have come back Friday.  There is no chance of messing around with it.  He kept the ball low.  The top of their order is really good.  He did a good job of not giving them anything to hit and really hurt us,” said Hoover.

          South Central advanced only two players as far as second base on the day and Mohawk was able to double one of them off and Snyder got a strikeout for the third out.

          Trojans coach Mike Perry says they could not get into any kind or rhythm.  “I think the struggles were he kept us off balance.  He didn’t throw a lot of curveballs, but he spotted his fastball well and mixed it up a little bit and he kept us off stride.  That’s what good pitchers do,” he said.

          The only run came in the bottom of the fifth when Troy Russell reached on an error and pinch runner Reese Hannam scored on Snyder’s two out double to deep left center.

          Hoover says it was a great way for Snyder to get out of a slump.  “He hasn’t been hitting great.  A matter of fact in our last tournament game, he didn’t even bat.  I thought he has had a couple of good practices and we got him back in there.  He came up with the hit and one that turned out to be a good situation.  It was a full count, so we could start the runner,” he said.

          Karl Ferber was also terrific for the Trojans.  He gave up only the one unearned run on two hits.  He stuck out six and walked none.

          Hoover says he kept them off balance.  “Ferber was outstanding also.  I know he was good coming in.  He is just an outstanding all around baseball player.  He did a great job of mixing up his pitches and keeping us off balance.  We struggled to get baserunners.  I don’t know how many we had, but we didn’t have many.  Not even very many hard hit balls.  He pitched an outstanding game as well,” said Hoover.

          A key play in the game came in the top of the fourth when the game was still scoreless.  South Central had runners at second and third with nobody out, when Mohawk right fielder Bryce Hannam caught a hard hit ball by Blaine Wheeler and doubled Carson Music off second base.

          Hoover says defense has been their strength all season and it paid off again on Wednesday.  “We have had to field the ball to win all year because we haven’t scored a lot of runs.  We have a lot of guys that are very versatile that can move around and play different positions and are confident in what we are doing.  Xavier (Oesch) and Nathan (Geary) did a great job up the middle.  Bryce turned that one in the outfield just being aware,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “He got a great jump on the ball and a great read on it and made a good play on a hard hit ball to turn that double play.  We count on our defense to get a lot done for us.  We don’t strike many guys out either.  So, they are having to make plays all of the time to get out of the inning and they did a really great job.”

          Perry accepted the blame on the play.  “That was a game changer right there.  The kid made a heck of a play and it happens.  I didn’t get a good look at it and neither did Carson (Music) at second base.  That is on me for not getting my guy back to third to tag.  I’ll take that, I’ll own that because that was just me not really doing what I was supposed to do,” he said.

 

Published 5/27/21

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Arlington Gets Past Plymouth

 

          Zavier Thornton gave up only one earned run and led the Arlington Red Devils to a (4-2) win over Plymouth in a division IV district semifinal played Wednesday night in Galion.

          They return Friday to play Mohawk for a district title.  The Warriors beat South Central (1-0) in Wednesday’s first game.

          Thornton stranded seven Plymouth runners in scoring position.  The Big Red left them loaded in the sixth and men on second and third in the bottom of the seventh as Thornton ended each threat with a strikeout.

          “That’s our senior leader that gets it done.  He has come a long way since I had him as a freshman.  He had to grow up as a sophomore and be our number one.  I don’t think we get that performance as a sophomore, that’s a senior that doesn’t want to go home,” said Arlington coach Aaron Cheney.

          Plymouth pitchers Cole Wentz and Zeth Goth were big in the clutch too.  They made some big pitches as Arlington on a couple of occasions threatened to break it open, but they too left them loaded in the fifth and sixth.

          Plymouth coach Jake Strayer says they were able to get out of trouble.  “They were bulldogs.  They got in some jams and they got out of them.  The two runs in the first inning are the difference.  They scrapped a couple more across.  That is how it went (Wednesday) night,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “Hats off to the Thornton kid, he threw well.  I wish him well at Findlay.  That’s a good baseball team.  They put the bat on the ball.  I think we might have had three strikeouts all night, which in high school baseball is really unheard of.  There weren’t too many walks.  This was a good baseball game and playing in late May, that’s that you want.”

          Chaney says it never crossed his mind to take Thornton out of the game.  “It is going to be him the whole way.  He’s our number one.  Our number two tore his labrum in the preseason, so that is one we are going to ride.  Our goal was to make it to Friday.  I told the kids, I’m going down swinging.  I’ll do whatever it takes.  That’s our number one and that is the guy we are going to ride to get us to Friday,” he said.

          Perhaps the biggest hit of the game came in the top of the first when Austin Roush delivered a two out two run single.  Jason “Chuck” Launder turned in a hustle play in the fourth scoring from second base on a infield ground ball to make it (3-0) Red Devils.

          Plymouth battled back and scored in the bottom of the fourth when Luke Hamman scored on an error and in the fifth on a walk to Ethan Gillum, who then scored on passed ball and two wild pitches to make it a (3-2) game.

          Arlington added an insurance run in the seventh when Roush singled and scored on an error.

          Chaney says they try to make solid contact and be aggressive on the bases.  “We are not big hitters.  We don’t have a lot of guys that hit doubles and triples. We are line drive hitters that hit singles and run the bases.  Those are the hits we need so our guys can run, so our guys can go first to third and second to home when it counts,” he said.

          Strayer believes the future is bright for the Big Red.  “They came back and battled all night.  I am proud of way we battled all night long.  They could have laid down after those two runs and we didn’t get anything going until the fourth inning and that has been this team all year long.  They battle, they battle, they battle.  We only have two seniors, so we are bringing back a whole lot of guys. I don’t lose a single inning of pitching.  All we ask is for a chance.  They just had one more base hit than we did, just one more timely hit,” said Strayer.

 

Published 5/27/21

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Highland Rallies for District Win

 

          Highland scored two in the fourth and two more in the fifth to rally and beat Columbus Bishop Hartley (4-3) in a division II district semifinal on Tuesday evening at Highland.

          They will host Hebron Lakewood, a (3-2) winner over Licking Valley on Tuesday, in the district championship game on Thursday.

          Hartley put a three spot in the board in the second inning to take the lead, but Highland coach Donnie Kline says they were resilient.  “It was an exciting one.  We tip our cap to a very good Hartley team.  They jumped out in the second inning and got three runs, but they boys were resilient and kept fighting,” he said.

          Wyatt Groves and Blake Jodrey did not allow the Hawks to cross the plate again and that was key in the Scots comeback.

          Kline says after they fell behind, he remined the players why the play baseball at Highland.  “When you have a team that has had success you have to win these kinds of games, but the reality is a lot of the baseball games we have played this year we have played from in front,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “You remind the guys this is fun, this is why we play, we are not going to be uptight, we are not going to be nervous.  This is why you play baseball at Highland.  This is a lot of fun.”

          Highland (27-2), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, shared the title this season the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference with Fredericktown, who advanced in the division III tournament with a (10-4) win over Mt. Gilead on Tuesday.

          K.J. Johnson and Brock Church had RBI singles in the bottom of the fourth to cut the deficit to (3-2) and Kline says that put them in position to get the win.  “I think the coaching point with the boys was let’s just get one.  Let’s pop the bubble.  Let’s get one on the board and then we can feel a little better about ourselves.  When you do think that way, one turns into two and 3-2 is a much more manageable game and it put us in striking position if you will,” said Kline.

          In their half of the fifth Highland took the lead when Randy Cain started the inning with a single and scored the tying run an error by the Hawks.  Zach Pinkerton hit sacrifice fly that allowed pinch runner Layton Shaffer to score what proved to be the winning run.

          Kline says they were able to take advantage.  “It was a situation where the momentum kept switching our way and the boys kept fighting.  That’s the way we look at our offense, just keep coming at them with waves and waves and waves.  It worked out (Tuesday) we kept getting base runners.  We found a couple of barrels there and made it interesting in the end,” he said.

 

Published 5/26/21

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Fredericktown Pounds Mt. Gilead

 

          Fredericktown took down fellow Knox Morrow County Athletic Conference rival Mt. Gilead (10-4) Tuesday evening in the division IV district semifinals.

          They host Amanda-Clearcreek on Thursday in the district title game.  The Aces beat top seeded Worthington Christian (1-0) on Tuesday.

          Fredericktown scored three times in the first inning and three more in the third to take a (6-0) lead after three innings.

          Coach Ryan Hathaway says those early runs gave them some confidence.  “We got off to a pretty good start.  I thought we ran ourselves out of a couple of innings early where we could have added a few more.  In a tournament game to get off to a good start is key I think at the high school level.  Just having the confidence.  Just being ready from the beginning is big,” said Hathaway.

          Lincoln Cunningham got the win for the Freddies (23-5), #3 in the final Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, going five innings allowing four hits, walking none and striking out five.

          Hathaway says the early offense took some pressure off him.  “It definitely takes the pressure off your guy in that way.  They can throw more strikes and not being afraid of letting a baserunner on or making a mistake, so it just eases everybody’s mind.  Even if you are in a tight game, it is just important to keep that consistent mindset and not get too out of control,” he said.

          Fredericktown, who shared the “KMAC” title with Highland, had run ruled the Indians (11-15) twice during the regular season, but Hathaway says they had not seen Carter Kennon.  “I knew that we hadn’t seen the guy that they started (Tuesday) night on the mound.  I was a little bit worried about him because he does play with a couple of our guys, so they knew he was a good pitcher.  You never know at tournament time,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “It’s tough and pitching rules, so when you see their number one that you haven’t seen all season.  You never know.  I wasn’t really nervous about it.  I just thought they would give us a tough game, which they did.  I thought the game was close the whole entire time until we hit a home run there late in the game.  It was a tight game.”

          Caleb Sheriff hit a three run homer in the top of the sixth for the Freddies to put it away.

          When it comes to Thursday and Amanda-Clearcreek, Hathaway knows they will have to play well.  “I guess I don’t know every much yet.  I saw that they won 1-0 (Tuesday) night over Worthington Christian.  So, knocking off the one seed is big.  They had a lot of guys that were up for Central District honors.  So, they have some players and like anybody at this point in the season you have to play your best baseball,” he said.

 

Published 5/26/21

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Hillsdale Meets Cuyahoga Heights in Districts

 

          Hillsdale, of the Wayne County Athletic League, meets Cuyahoga Heights in a division IV district semifinal on Tuesday afternoon at Medina High School.

          Dalton (19-7), also of the “WCAL”, faces Columbia in the other semi at Medina.  The final is scheduled for Thursday.

          Hillsdale (23-5), #4 in the final Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, has won its last 13 games, and coach Jason Snow says they have not been blown out this season.  “We had a 5-4 loss, a 4-2, and three 3-2 losses.  That has been the thing, I guess, for our team is competing throughout the game and keeping the game close.  Sure, we didn’t get couple we thought we should have and maybe won a couple we shouldn’t have.  We were keeping ourselves in the game and when we are doing that if somebody make the right play you have a good chance of winning,” he said.

          Waynedale, who beat Wellington (2-0) on Monday in a division III district semi, and Norwayne, who tied Hillsdale for third in the conference standings, also had very good seasons.

          Snow believes they have been tested.  “Our top four teams were very consistent for the most part and very competitive.  Yeah, we had some teams that struggled, but Smithville is an up and coming team that had a couple of nice freshmen on their team.  They gave us a battle.  I think everybody is still trying to figure out from the COVID year.  You are finally finding out where your kids are at,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Nobody knew coming in how their sophomores and juniors, who missed a year, would react.  I think everybody is figuring it out a different way and seeing what your kids are made of.  There are still a couple of kids we are wondering about, but I think we have figured a lot of our kids out now.”

          Cuyahoga Heights (12-10) beat Independence (7-3) to reach this level.

          Snow says they are similar to the Falcons, especially their pitching.  “They struggled early in the year.  They started off 5-9, so they have been 7-1 since.  I know they are very similar to us in terms of pitching.  I don’t know if they have any dominate pitching, but they have guys that throw strikes and rely on their defense.  I think it will give us and opportunity to get some runs on the board.  The key for us is for our pitchers to throw strikes and continue to do what we have done, which is make the plays.  Nick Kandel will be pitching for us (Tuesday).  If he can stay in the strike zone, I think our guys will do a nice job fielding for him.  It should give us a good opportunity to win the game if we hit the ball like we are capable of,” said Snow.

 

Published 5/25/21

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South Central Edges Buckeye Central

 

          South Central won a division IV sectional title on Thursday evening as they got past Buckeye Central (2-1) to earn a ticket to the district tournament.

          They will play Mohawk in next Wednesday’s district semifinal at Galion.  The Warriors beat Carey (2-1) in nine innings on Thursday.

          They only had six hits in the game, but coach Mike Perry says they had one more run and that’s all that matters.  “Survive and advance and that is what I told them after the game.  I said we had one more run that they did and that’s all I care about.  Do that seven more times and that would be just fine with me,” he said.

          Buckeye Central threw their top two pitchers in Tuesday’s semifinal win (5-4) over Hardin-Northern.  So, they thew their number three Thursday in Clay Green.

          Perry says they had their problems getting in any kind of rhythm against Green.  “The funny thing is, we are a team that has struggled more with the medium to slow stuff.  We can hit anything fast.  The faster the better for us.  It is when they throw the slower guys against us that we struggle and press.  (Thursday) we were out of sorts a little in the batter’s box,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We did what we had to do.  Karl Ferber hit a home run is his third straight game and he is getting hot at the right time.  He is one of the best players in the state.  He is unbelievable.”

          Ferber hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second to give the Trojans a (1-0) lead and they added another in the third when Jackson McCormack scored after the Bucks misplayed a single off the bat of Shane Vanderpool.

          Ferber started and went the distance of the Trojans allowing just the one run on 10 hits.  He struck out six.

          Perry says he got a big play from his catcher.  “Our junior catcher Caden Hauler made huge play.  They had first and second and they were trying to bunt the runners over I believe it was in the sixth and he threw a strike to second to back pick the kid that wondered too far.  That kind of turned all of the momentum there.  Caden Hauler really had a tremendous game and that kid is really coming up big when we need him,” said Perry.

 

Published 5/21/21

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Mohawk Uses Suicide Squeeze to Win Sectional

 

          Mohawk needed nine innings to past rival Carey (2-1) in a division IV sectional final on Thursday.  The Winning run scored on a suicide squeeze.

          The win advances the Warriors (17-10) to a district semifinal matchup with South Central, a (2-1) winner over Buckeye Central, next Wednesday in Galion.

          Mohawk broke a scoreless tie when Tyler Hayman singled, moved to second when Trey Combs walked, the Warriors executed a double steal, and Hayman scored on an error.

          Carey scored in the sixth when Conner Slavey walked and eventually scored on an error.

          Mohawk’s Landen Snyder and Carey’s Dominic Yeater were both outstanding.  Snyder got the win in going all nine innings giving up six hits, walking one and striking out 11.

          It came down to the bottom of the ninth when Xavier Oesch opened the inning with a walk.  Hayman got a hit and Nate Geary reached on an error to load the bases with one out.  That brough Blake Harper to the plate and he laid down the suicide squeeze to score Oesch.

          Coach Eric Hoover says it’s all about execution in the clutch.  “It was really close from the beginning.  We knew it was going to be a tight game.  We had a tight one with Carey the first time we played them and they had the same pitcher on the mound.  He is good and I knew it would be tough to score runs.  We ended up leaving a lot of runners in scoring position throughout the game.  He couldn’t get the clutch hit.  It came down to executing a couple of bunts in the ninth inning to push one across and get the win,” said Hoover.

          Hoover says in high school baseball you have to able to bunt.  “We have been in that situation a lot and we have had some good success being able to take leads and things like that on bunt plays.  The hitters are a lot less consistent at the high school level.  You get a dominate pitcher out there and our hitters were having a struggling day,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “It is just a play that maybe they don’t make as often.  I feel like they do make more errors on those kinds of plays.  You just find ways to get on base, just getting people in scoring position with them.  We talk about it a lot how everybody needs to know how to bunt.  We were able to get a couple good ones down (Thursday) night.”

          Hoover says he and Harper were confident they could make the play and they did.  “It is always nerve raking for sure.  I have been in that situation quite a few times in 15 years.  We won a district championship on walk off suicide squeeze once upon a time.  It is nerve raking and tough to make the call, there is a lot that can go wrong.  They called time out, I mean they knew it was coming I think too.  The kid was really confident and assured me he could get it down.  It worked out,” he said.

 

Published 5/21/21

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Northmor Downs Madison Plains

 

          Northmor earned a ticket to the division III district semis with a (5-1) win over Madison Plains on Thursday.

          They will play Columbus Academy, a (4-1) winner over Centerburg on Thursday, on Monday evening.

          The Golden Knights took a (1-0) lead in the bottom of the first inning on a sacrifice fly from Andrew Armose, but Madison Plains would tie on an RBI single by Ryan Ernst in the third.

          The key was the bottom of third when Northmor struck for three.  P.J. Lower reached on an error and that was followed by a walk to Grant Bentley.  Armose doubled to drive in Lower.  Garrett Corwin got Bentley home on a sac fly and Preston Harbolt drove in the final run of the inning with a single.

          Coach Buck Workman says that allowed them to relax a little bit.  “We were in a nip and tuck game and then we get to that third inning and we are able to plate a couple across.  It let the boys rest a little easier and play a little freer,” he said.

          Bentley, a freshman, started and went all seven for the Golden Knights.  He struck 11, including the last five he faced, and walked none.

          Workman says Bentley was efficient and their defense was sound making no errors in the win.  “They outhit us 7-5, but when you don’t walk anybody like Bentley did (Thursday) night.  We were able to pick up like five or six walks ourselves and they made a few errors and we played error free ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “That is a recipe for success when you don’t walk people and you make plays behind them.”

          Obviously, the defense was very good on Thursday.  Workman says a key play came in the with Madison Plains threatening in the fifth.  “We had a situation (Thursday) night where we were up 4-1 in the fifth inning and they had two on and got a base hit with two outs and our centerfielder P.J. Lower and made a play on a base hit to his left and threw a perfect strike to home and threw the guy out at home.  I think I get more excited on defensive plays than I do offensive plays.  That just got our team jacked,” said Workman.

 

Published 5/21/21

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Wentz Blanks Lucas; Sends Plymouth to Districts

 

          Cole Wentz fired a shutout and Plymouth beat Lucas (3-0) in a division IV sectional final on Thursday evening.

          The Big Red now advances to meet Arlington, a (18-4) winner over Crestline Thursday, at Galion next Wednesday in a district semifinal.

          Coach Jake Strayer says Wentz was on the top of his game and was efficient on Thursday.  “We had Cole Wentz, who has been our ace all year long.  He went out there and threw seven strong innings and had seven strikeouts and no walks and hit one guy.  He threw 95 pitches and 67 of them were strikes, so he was around the zone all night long.  He went out and battled and did what he needed to do and the defense got it done.  He was phenomenal (Thursday) night once again,” said Strayer.

          Wentz struck out seven, but more impressive was the no walks.  Strayer says he preaches getting ahead in the count.  “We have stressed that all year and even more this week that you have to get ahead early, you have to throw first pitch strikes and get the leadoff guy out.  It helps when you are not putting guys on base.  You are not putting yourself under pressure or putting your defense under pressure,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “That is the first game that we have had all year that we have had somebody go seven innings and not walk a single person.  If you do that, you set yourself up for success.”

          Plymouth put up single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to get the win.  Luke Hamman scored in the fourth when Camden Welch grounded out.  In the fifth, Wentz helped his own cause with an RBI hit.  Clayton Miller, one of the leading hitters in the Firelands Conference, added an RBI single in the sixth.

          Strayer says they could have scored more, but they got enough to win.  “We scored enough to win the game.  We got one across in the fourth, fifth and sixth.  We had to scrape them across.  There is the sixth we had an opportunity for more and didn’t get it.  You scrape and find a way to win ballgames at this point in the year no matter how you have to do it.  At the end of the day all you have to do is get it done,” he said.

 

Published 5/21/21

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Lexington Gets Past Wapakoneta

 

          Lexington, just the eighth seed in an 11 team district, beat Wapakoneta (6-5) on Wednesday in a division II sectional semifinal.

          They play at St. Mary’s Memorial in a sectional final on Friday evening.

          It was not the best first month of the season for the Minutemen, but coach Kevin Morrow says he was not surprised about their play on Wednesday.  “Going into the season we knew we had a couple of special pitchers and if we could develop some relief pitching and some defense around it we could compete.  The first three, four weeks of the season we were up and down and didn’t know who we were and just found ways to lose.  It just wasn’t clicking, but here over the last couple of weeks we have really put together some nice games and we either beat or competed with some state ranked caliper teams and high seeded teams and you could see things coming together,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I stated to tell the kids despite the record, I would not want to play you guys in the tournament because you have two good pitchers and you are starting to play better.  We worked really hard leading up to this tournament game preparing the hitters because offense have been our biggest struggle.  So, we took tons of lefthanded batting practice at close distance to try and mimic the velocity that we were going to see.”

          Morrow says that work paid off right away Wednesday because they were able to score runs early.  “Right off the bat we jumped on them really quick and started driving the ball all over the place and jumped out 5-0 and were able to hold on for the win,” he said.

          Once you have some success with the bats Morrow says it allows you to do some other things.  “Then you can get a little bit aggressive and run a little bit and mix in some bunts here and there.  We made good contact, that was a quality pitcher with Wapakoneta.  He throws well and I think his ERA was below 2.00.  So, seeing the kids hit the ball well and drive it.  Chase Carter went 4-for-4 (Wednesday) with four RBI.  He made first team all district and he definitely showed it.  Cole Pauly and Gabe Hamilton had a couple of hits and the rest of the crew was putting the ball in play and making good contact and making them field the ball and it worked,” said Morrow.

          Pitching has been the key for the Minutemen this year and Morrow says they got good efforts from their best three guys on Wednesday.  “We had a good one (Wednesday) night.  Cole Pauly wasn’t probably completely on his game the whole time, but he is good enough to survive the storm and still hold teams down.  Kevin Grimm kind of bridged the gap until we could get to Chase Carter.  He had a three up, three down inning there in the seventh to close it out,” he said.

 

Published 5/20/21

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Ontario Advances With Win over Upper

 

          Ontario, the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference co-champion, has advanced to the division II sectional finals with a (7-2) win at home on Wednesday over the Upper Sandusky Rams.

          They will travel to Tiffin Columbian for a sectional final game against the Tornadoes on Friday.

          Ryan Chapman went the distance for the Warriors (15-8) allowing two runs on four hits with three strikeouts.

          Coach Jeff Fisher says Chapman was efficient.  “Ryan Chapman is a guy over his last three outings has been on.  A lot of first pitch strikes.  He has his walk totals down.  He has given us a really good chance to win,” he said.

          Ontario got on the board in the second.  They loaded the bases on two hit batters and a walk and scored a pair on another walk and a ground ball.  They added two more in the fourth when Chase Studer walked, stole two bases and scored on wild pitch and a second run scored when the Rams made a throwing error trying to throw a runner out at second base.  It was now (4-0) Warriors.  In the fifth, Kyle Walters scored Caden Armstrong on an RBI double.

          Upper got back into the game by scoring twice in the sixth, but the Warriors responded with two of their own in their half on RBI hits by Armstrong and Gage Weaver.

          Fisher says their speed and aggressive base running was a factor in the win over Upper.  “It has been a while, but we scored first and that helps the pitcher out and reduces the pressure, especially in tournament baseball.  On the whole, we were able to move up 90 feet,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We had nine stolen bases (Wednesday) night and took advantage of some wild pitches and scored without an RBI.  When Armstrong gets his three hits.  We get some clutch AB’s out of Weaver and Walters that certainly sets the stage for some of the guys throughout the lineup once they get on base they can score.”

          Fisher says their goal is to put pressure on their opponent and force them to make plays.  “Every year we try to emphasize the importance of speed.  As far as high school baseball is concerned there are a couple of times, number one you have to be able to advance and put pressure on the defense and secondly you have to be able to bunt.  A lot of the action takes place within 90 feet.  If teams are typically ones that walk us and give us some freebees, we will try an advance.  (Wednesday) was somewhat of a templet for that.  Upper gave us some opportunities,” said Fisher.

 

Published 5/20/21

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Cardington Wins District Title

 

          Cardington has made three straight state softball tournament appearances in division III and they are just two steps away from a fourth.

          Cardington (25-2), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com softball coaches poll in the small school division, beat West Jefferson (2-1) in a division III district final played on their home field on Wednesday afternoon.

          They will play either Huron or Edison, of the “SBC” Bay, in a regional semifinal next week.

          Coach Tod Brininger says they got a tremendous performance from a freshman pitcher on Wednesday.  “We have a freshman pitcher that is just a stud in Genevieve Longsdorf and she not only pitched a great game overall, but came up in a couple of big spots against West Jeff’s best player, one time with the bases loaded and one time with a runner on second.  She struck her out both times.  She did a huge job in the circle for us,” he said.

          In games like this runs can be a premium as they were on Wednesday.  Brininger says they found a way to get one across that proved to be the difference and it was baserunning.  “We scored our second run on a passed ball.  We had a single from Hailee Edgell and Genevieve Longsdorf kind of blooped one down the leftfield line right over the third baseman’s head,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “Hailee did what she was supposed to do, she got all of the way to third on it and the next pitch she scored on a passed ball.  Just a great job of baserunning on her part.  You have to take whatever you can get in a game like this.”

          With the impressive run of success for the Lady Pirates, Brininger says it is important to note that there is a lot that is new about this team this spring.  “You have to put those expectations out there for them and then they have to work their rear ends off to get it.  We have three girls that had played some minutes for us in 2019 on this team.  We graduated six seniors last year, five starters, we have a freshman pitcher, a second basemen that hasn’t played in three years.  So, it is a whole new group.  They have bought into the expectations, they bought into the work, and they are reaping the benefits right now,” said Brininger.

 

Published 5/20/21

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Wynford Explodes; Beats New London

 

          Wynford scored 10 times in the third inning and went on to drill New London (11-6) in a division III sectional semifinal on Wednesday evening.

          They will play host to Genoa in sectional final on Friday.  Genoa hammered Crestview (10-0) in their semifinal game on Wednesday.

          It did not start out very well for the Royals (14-12) in the semi.  They gave up six runs in the first two innings.

          Coach Tom Smith says a lot of those runs were due to mistakes they had made.  “We played pretty sloppy the first two innings.  A lot of errors and a couple of hit batters and the next thing you know we are down 6-0,” he said.

          Wynford has five players that sport an average of over .370 on the season.

          Smith says it was just a matter of time before they got going against New London.  “I think we still lead the league in batting average.  We hit the ball good top to bottom.  We finally timed up the pitcher in the third inning,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “Then they brought in a guy that throws a little harder.  We actually hit the faster pitchers a little better.  So, it worked out in our favor.”

          Smith says once they got going in that third inning, their kids started to relax and just hit the ball.  “I think as soon as we loaded the bases and hadn’t even scored you could tell the energy shifted.  The players were confident, they knew we were going to score some runs then it just carried on for quite while,” he said.

 

Published 5/20/21

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Clear Fork Gets Bellevue and Advances

 

          Clear Fork scored twice in the of the seventh and rallied to beat Bellevue (4-2) in the division II district semifinals on Tuesday evening in Willard.

          Down (2-0) nothing after four innings Clear Fork showed the calm focus that has been in its character all season.  They will advance to meet old rival Madison in the district final on Friday evening.

          Bellevue got on the board in the bottom of the first after a lead off single by Kearston Lunsford.  She scored on a throwing error by the Lady Colts.  They made tit (2-0) on Kyra Henney’s solo homer in the second, but that would be all of the scoring for the champions of the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division.

          Coach Jeff Gottfried says they didn’t lose their focus down early.  “It was a lot of fun to be part of.  Our kids were excited.  We even told them (Monday) at practice there are going to be some highs and lows throughout the game.  You just can’t get too high with the highs and too low with the lows.  We gave them a first inning run.  They had a leadoff hit and tried to bunt the girl to second base and we chucked it down the rightfield line and we didn’t do a very good job of backing up the throw and the girl scored all of the way from first base.  They got a solo shot in the second.  That puts them up 2-0, but our kids didn’t panic.  They just kept battling away,” he said.

          In the fifth, senior Hallie Gottfried tied the game with a two run double to center and the Lady Colt faithful started to feel a little better.  Then in the seventh, with one out Reghan Barker collected a one out single and promptly stole second base.  Then it was to the top of the order and Courtney Palmer tripled off the rightcenter field fence to give Clear Fork a (3-2) lead.  Hallie Gottfried followed with a sacrifice fly and gave the Lady Colts a two run lead (4-2) going to the bottom of the seventh.

          Coach Gottfried says they had the right people up at the right time.  “We got some momentum on our side and got some good outs the next couple of innings.  We had the right kids at the plate in the fifth inning.  We got a big two-run double from Hallie Gottfried top tie the game up.  We had the right kids up in the seventh.  We got a one out single from a senior in Reghan Barker.  She stole second base and then had another senior behind her in the batting order in Courtney Palmer hit a triple to right center to give us a one run lead,” he told SwankonSports.com after the win on Tuesday, “So, she is on third base with one out and Hallie Gottfried is up again and gets a sac fly to give us a two run cushion.  When you have two in the seventh inning it is really, really big compared to a one run lead like sometimes you have.  I was just very proud of our kids, they just battled to the end.”

          Ashtynn Roberts was huge in the circle for Clear Fork.  After the second inning homer, she settled down and kept Bellevue off the scoreboard.  That included getting out of a based loaded jam with the score tied in the bottom of the sixth.

          Gottfried says she has a tremendous presence on the mound.  “We tied the thing up in the fifth inning and she gets them out in the bottom of the fifth and it still 2-2.  We don’t score in the top of the sixth and she actually loads the bases in the bottom of the sixth, loads the bases with no outs with a walk and I can’t remember after that, it doesn’t really matter.  There are no outs and the bases are loaded, but we get out of that jam without giving up a run.  Just kept the momentum in our dugout.  I can’t say more about here than what I have.  She has been tremendous, especially when it’s crunch time.  She just kept a nice, calm, cool presence out on the mound.  I’m sure she would tell you differently.  She battled hard and she knew she had her team behind her and they were excited as a group,” said Gottfried.

          Clear Fork (19-8), the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference champion, has won 10 of their last 12 and have been playing their best softball in May.

          Gottfried says they are playing with confidence.  “There is just a calm presence in our dugout.  We were down 2-0, but it was early and our kids just keep fighting.  They are real positive with each other.  We just had to wait until our opportunity presented itself and when it did, we pounced on it.  We didn’t let it pass us by.  We beat a great team.  Bellevue is solid, they are well coached by coach (Walt) Snyder, I have a lot of respect for him.  At this stage, it’s survive and advance and we get a chance to play again on Friday,” said Gottfried.

          Clear Fork plays Madison on Friday and this renews a longstanding rivalry with the Lady Rams, who outscored Ontario (10-6) in the lid lifter on Tuesday.

          Gottfried says they know they will be in for a big challenge.  “They are solid top to bottom.  I will just be pretty simple about them, it is going to be a fun ballgame.  I have a lot of respect for coach (Tim) Niswander.  We played a doubleheader about two weeks ago and we said we would see each other in two weeks and here we are ready to go,” he said.

 

Published 5/19/21

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Fast Start Keys Madison’s Win Over Ontario

 

          Madison scored eight times in the first two innings and went on to beat Ontario (10-6) in a division II district semifinal on Tuesday afternoon in Willard.

          They return Friday to play longtime rival Clear Fork for a district championship.

          Olivia Schultz, Bailey Lyons, and Kyleigh Reiter all had RBI hits and Madison lead (4-0) after a half inning.  In the second, Bri Bowles delivered a grand slam and Madison had an (8-0) lead.

          Coach Tim Niswander says they came out ready to play and it showed.  “We came out of the gate and were aggressive.  The kids were excited to play.  Really looking forward to the game and they came out and got it going early.  The pressure was off a little bit at that point in the game.  It was nice to get that lead and play from in front all night,” he said.

          However, Ontario, who had upset the top seed in the district in Lexington (5-4) in the sectional finals last Friday, was not about to go away.  They chipped away and then got a big three run homer from Halli Ciroli in the bottom of the fourth to cut the Madison lead to (10-5) after four.  Her sacrifice fly in the sixth made it (10-6).

          With one out in the seventh, Niswander had to go to a reliever in Layla Azmoun, who then stuck out the side for Madison and preserved the win.  “We knew that they would.  Even at 8-0 we knew Ontario wasn’t going to go away.  Their kids are going to battle.  Coach (Sean) Snow is going to keep them ready and keep them in the game.  That is exactly what they did.  They had some good at bats and they put some pressure back on us,” he told SwankonSports.com after the win Tuesday, “They made our pitcher throw a lot of pitches and she had thrown the night before.  It looked like Bailey Lyons was going to run out of gas there at the end.  We brought Layla Azmoun in in the last inning.  She went one, two, three, struck out the side after Bailey had given up a base hit to lead off the inning.  It was a pretty exciting finish even though it was a four run lead, you never felt safe.  Our kids had good at bats.  They had a good approach at the plate.  When we do that, we know we are pretty talented and we don’t get ourselves out you have the opportunity to score some runs.”

          Madison will see old rival Clear Fork, the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference champion, in the district final at Willard on Friday.  The edged Bellevue (4-2) in the nightcap.  The Lady Colts beat Madison in a couple of close games (10-4) and (9-8) in nine innings on May 8.

          Niswander says it should be fun.  “You know, “Gotti” and I love to compete against each other.  I like playing against him and he likes playing against me.  We are friends and it will be fun.  It will be nice no matter what happens that the district championship will be coming back to Richland County,” he said.

 

Published 5/19/21

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Buckeye Central Rallies to Tournament Win

          Down four midway through the game, Buckeye Central rallied to beat Hardin-Northern (5-4) a division IV sectional semifinal on Tuesday, scoring the winning run in dramatic fashion.

          They advance to play at South Central for a sectional title on Thursday afternoon.

          In the bottom of the seventh, Kaiden Vaughn scored on a passed ball and the Bucks earned an exciting win.

          Coach Chad Jensen says the plan was a suicide squeeze with the bases and loaded and nobody out.  “We were lucky enough to get the bases loaded.  We had a couple of walks in there and I think a hit by pitch.  So, the based are loaded and I’m thinking, okay, we have to put the ball in pay here.  I decide we are going to run a suicide.  I know the bases are loaded, but we are going to do it anyway.  We had our best bunter at the plate.  They throw a pitch that’s a little high and outside and he can’t get a bat on it.  The catcher drops the ball and picks it back up.  Our runner at third was going, he got a good jump, slides hard into home, like you are supposed to and the kid dropped the ball and it squirted away and we win in walk off fashion,” said Jensen.

          Jensen says they are certainly used to playing in close games.  “That kind of fits our season.  We have lost nine games by one run or extra innings.  For us to get a gut check win in the bottom of the seventh that sound about right,” he said.

Hardin-Northern led (4-0) after three and half innings and Jensen had to go get Vaughn, who had started the game, and replace him with Alex Kanney.  Jensen says it is win and survive at this point.  “We feel like we have two number one pitchers.  Kaiden had an ERA under one coming in and Alex was under two.  The last time Kaiden pitcher he threw a two hitter against Bucyrus.  A nine inning two hitter, we lost 1-0, but it was a heck of a game.  We felt like it was Kaiden’s turn to pitch.  We felt like we are going to stay in our rotation.  He wasn’t quite himself (Tuesday).  He was pressing, trying to make perfect pitches and that’s okay.  He battled threw three and two thirds,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I kept saying we are not going to leave any bullets in the holster.  We have Alex and we are going to throw him in there and Alex did a great job.  It was a tough spot for him to come into, but he is a gamer.  We are a team and everybody picks each other up.  Being down 4-0 our kids are super resilient and I am really proud of them.”

Kanney have up just one hit, walked none and struck out five.

Jensen says due to pitch counts, Vaughn threw 71 and Kanney 57, neither will be available for Thursday.  “Neither one of those two are going to throw.  South Central was there, so I can’t lie.  I wouldn’t do that anyway.  They both can’t pitch.  They will see somebody else, they won’t see those two,” he said.

 

Published 5/19/21

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Ashland Outscores Madison

 

          Ashland banged out 18 hits and beat Madison (11-6) in a first round tournament game in division I on Monday evening.

          The Arrows led (5-0) after three innings, but Madison scored five in the top of the fourth to tie up.

          Ashland coach Rick Gough says they kind opened the gates a little for Madison in the fourth.  “We got off to a good start and things were going well.  They had a couple of hits and we made a couple of mistakes and before we knew it was tied up,” he said.

          It didn’t take long or Ashland to respond.  They put up four in their half of the fourth to take the lead (9-5) and they never trailed again.

          Gough says hopefully they are breaking out of their slump.  “We have been focusing of hitting the ball backside.  We have had trouble scoring runs all year.  We told them to keep swinging the bats and we did,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “(Monday) night we had 18 hits, or 17 depending on who scored it, and we hit the ball pretty well and we knew we had to keep adding on.”

          Ashland had at least three hots from four different players in the game.

          Gough says they hit throughout the lineup.  “It has been exciting to see.  We have been waiting to see that all year.  Ethan Truax had four hits, did an exceptional job.  Kam Mowery had three hits and did a great job moving the ball,” he said.

          Jon Metzger and Chase Hunt also had three hits for the Arrows.  Metzger, Hunt, Mowery and Parker Grissinger all had two RBI.

          Logan Faulk started the game for Ashland and gave up one earned run over 3 and two thirds innings.  Quentin Anderson got the win in relief, going three and a third, giving up no earned runs on two hits.  “I have to put a shout out to Quentin Anderson, who came in in the fourth inning and basically closed the door.  He did an outstanding job,” said Gough.

          Jameson Myers had three hits for Madison.

          Ashland will plat at top seeded Anthony Wayne on Wednesday in a sectional final.

          Gough says, heck, the pressure in on them.  “Obviously, that is going to be a tough game.  Anthony Wayne is one of the top teams in the state.  Anything we can do there we will be proud of.  I told the kids it is a no lose situation.  Just go in and swing the bat and see what happens and go from there.  The pressure is on them.  The pressure is not on us,” said Gough.

 

Published 5/18/21

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Colonel Crawford Ready for Tournament

 

          Colonel Crawford got back on the winning path on Monday evening in beating Upper Sandusky (9-6) in their final game before tournament play.

          Coach Dan Gorbett says they hit the ball very well, especially senior Cade Hamilton.  “That included two double plays where we hit line drives and they doubled us off the bases.  One of those situations when there wasn’t a whole lot you could do about it.  There were two rallies that ended that way,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “Cade Hamilton hit a two run bomb.  We were up 7-1 and they closed it to 7-6 and with two out he hit a two-run homer that went deep into the farmer’s field.  It was a shot.  He also had a double and a base hit.  He had a great night for us.”

          Colonel Crawford (23-2), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, lost a pair of (5-1) games to Shelby, #1 in our large school poll, and talented Norwalk last week.

          The Eagles are the top seed in their district in division III and will play either Oak Harbor or Bucyrus in a sectional final on Thursday.

          Gorbett says he believes they are prepared as best they can be for the second season.  “That is a tough one to answer because sometimes you just look sloppy.  There is no answer to it.  Then come tournament time the kids turn it on and play their best game.  I am going to answer yes, we are ready because we have been working hard all year to be ready.  Two years ago, we made a nice tournament run and those kids remember that an want to do it again,” said Gorbett.

          Colonel Crawford made to the regionals in 2019, the last year we had tournament baseball, and Gorbett says they have six guys that played on that team.  “I am hoping that tournament experience is a big factor come Thursday.  A lot of times you have a bunch of young kids and don’t know what to expect.  I think six of the guys out there played in those tournament games two years ago.  I’m hoping that is a big benefit for us,” he said.

 

Published 5/18/21

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Ontario Gives Itself a Chance

 

          A must win game is an overused cliché in sports, but it truly was the case for the Ontario Warriors on Thursday and they came through with (15-9) win at home over Marion Pleasant and gave themselves the opportunity to share the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title with Shelby.

          They must complete the task with a win at Clear Fork on Saturday morning.  That game is tied (10-10) and will be picked up in the top of the 12th inning.

          Ontario (13-9,9-2) had 16 hits on Thursday and coach Jeff Fisher says it was good to get the bats going again after (2-0) and (5-1) wins over Marion Harding the last two days.  “The last couple of games we have been we did not exactly strike the ball with authority.  (Thursday) night up and down the lineup it felt like a varsity team offensively,” he said.

          Colten Ramion, Owen Hatfield, and Gage Weaver all had three hits on the day for the Warriors.  Weaver and ninth place hitter Ryan Brophy both had three RBI.  Hatfield has three stolen bases.

          The put six runs in the third inning to take a (9-3) lead, Brophy and Weaver both had two run hits that inning.

          The Warriors threw a runner out at third in the first inning and at home to end the second and fourth innings stranding five runners.

          Fisher says those were key defensive plays.  “I thought we were in the right spot.  The rotations where there on the base hits.  If you put yourself in the right position on the field and you know where to go and you can anticipate some of those things.  Sometimes you don’t follow through and catch and throw and get the outs.  The outs were there and we took advantage of those to really shorten innings,” said Fisher.

          Down as many as eight runs at one point, Pleasant (11-10,3-8) never quit.  Coach Brad Potts says they battled.  “Our kids are great.  They have been all in all season.  They just come and battle every night.  We played Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, so we were down three arms (Thursday) night, which gave us some troubles.  The kids came and hit the ball and battled and did a good job,” he said.

          Nick Osborne had three hits and scored two runs for the Spartans.  They scored five times in the sixth inning to reduce their deficit to three (12-9), but Ontario’s Ryan Walters slammed the door in the seventh, retiring the side in order.

          It was the Warriors third league in as many days and Fisher complements junior starting pitcher Jacob Barabani, who went five and third innings to get the win, allowing seven runs, five earned.  “The story is Jacob Barabani, who at the beginning of the year was getting JV innings work because we weren’t sure exactly what we had.  It’s been the COVID year and he was just kind of platooning in right and the AB’s were inconsistent.  The last three starts for him have been exceptional,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “This was the first game that he struggled with command, but to me he never showed any kind of body language saying coach I don’t want to compete.  So, he was a solider (Thursday) night and got to 100 pitches.  Even though it wasn’t exactly a straight line, we needed that kind of start considering where we are at in our schedule.”

          A goal for every school in the state is to win their conference title and the Warriors have that chance on Saturday.

          Fisher says that’s all you can ask for.  “I told the kids it’s the body of work and the process that we feel puts kids in good position to be successful as a program.  We have talked earlier in an interview about having meaningful games in May and we have meaningful games throughout this week and here we are.  We have senior night (Friday) night against rival Lexington.  We have to grind through that and then address heading to the “Colt Corral” and see what comes of that,” said Fisher.

 

Published 5/14/21

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Suicide Squeeze Gives Seneca East Win Over Wynford

 

          Seneca East edged Wynford (1-0) Thursday afternoon in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game and the difference was a suicide squeeze executed by the Tigers in the bottom of the seventh inning.

          Shayne Walker legged out a dropped third strike into a one out base runner.  He advanced to third on a single to right center by Caden Fritz.  Andrew Kalb was intentionally walked to load the bases and create a force at every base.  Up came Cody Helbertshausen and he was called on the bunt and he did the job.

          Coach Rick Bowerman says he believed Helbertshausen was a solid bunter and that was confident in his call.  “That was very exciting.  We had a runner on first with one out on a dropped third strike.  Our catcher hustled down the line to make it to first.  Then we get a big hit by our freshman to give us runners on first and third.  They intentionally walk the next guy.  So, with one out and our number eight hitter up, I said, hey, he is a pretty good bunter, so we are going to go for it.  We took a pitch and then the next pitch couldn’t have been a better pitch to bunt on, a strike right down the middle, and we execute perfectly and win the game,” said Bowerman.

          Bowerman says that bunting is something they work on in every practice.  “Every time we take batting practice one of the things we do is work on a suicide squeeze.  That is one of the last things we do.  When the kids are hitting, we always bunt for a sacrifice to begin with and we end with a suicide squeeze, so yeah, that is something we work on,” he said.

          There is no question that small ball is a big part high school baseball and good teams are the ones that can execute it with the bat in their hands and defend it.

          Turner Bridgford was outstanding on the mound for the Tigers (14-8,12-4) on Thursday night.  He threw a six hitter in going the distance, walking one and striking out four.  Leyton Appleby and Dylon Robinson both had two hits for Wynford (13-12,10-6) in the game.

          Bowerman says he was in control all night.  “I can’t say enough about our pitcher Turner Bridgford.  He threw and outstanding game.  He shut out the league’s best hitting team in Wynford, which I don’t think they have been shutout yet this year,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “He was in control the whole night.  He had three 1-2-3 innings, really was never in trouble and was just commanding the strike zone and making his pitches when he had too.”

 

Published 5/14/21

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Northmor Edges Marion Harding

 

          Northmor banged out 12 hits on Thursday as they went on the road to beat division I Marion Harding (13-11) in a non-conference baseball game.

          There were a combined 14 runs scored by both teams in the first inning alone.

          Coach Buck Workman says they got off to a very good start with the bats.  “We had the bats working early (Thursday) night.  We were able to put up eight in the top of the first to put ourselves in a good situation, but it went away real fast,” he said.

          However, Golden Knights starter Jack Sears didn’t get anybody out in the bottom the first inning, but Workman credits his kids for not losing their focus and continuing to get hits.  “We score eight and they come back and score six and had the bases loaded with nobody out and our pitcher was able to get us out of that jam and keep us up by two.  It was good to see us respond and put up a run or two in the third to keep making them chase us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night.

          Northmor would score one in the third, one in the fourth and three in the fifth.

          Drew Hammond came in got out of the first and went the rest of the way giving up four runs on nine hits.

          Pierce Lower and Garrett Corwin led the hit parade for the Golden Knights (15-9) with three hits apiece.  Matt Kearns drove in three.

          Workman thinks it’s important for them to face good pitching with the division three tournament starting next week.  “You don’t want to go into that tournament having not seen good pitching.  They thew some guys at us that brought it pretty good (Thursday).  I thought we got our bats back in gear.  We have kind of been in a little mini slump there the past few games, but we hit it well (Thursday),” said Workman.

 

Published 5/14/21

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Buckeye Central Downs Riverdale

 

          Clay Green tossed a two hitter and Buckeye Central beat Riverdale (6-2) in a non-conference baseball game on Thursday evening in Mt. Blanchard.

          Buckeye Central has won 10 of its last 17 games and is in a share of fourth place in the competitive Northern 10 Athletic Conference after an (0-9) start to year.

          Coach Chad Jensen says they just continue to do the things that have made them successful.  “We have just talked about what we have need to do.  Just continue to do what we have been doing recently.  We got a great pitching performance from Clay Green (Thursday) night.  He threw a two hitter and pitched great.  We put the ball in play and we played great defense.  That has really been what we have done all year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We have been on the short end several times in close ballgames, but it hasn’t changed what we have done.  We put the ball in play.  We don’t strikeout very much, we typically throw strikes and we play pretty good defense.  We just want to continue to do that heading into the tournament.”

          Third baseman Elliot Geissman had three of the Bucks seven hits on Thursday.

          Kaiden Vaughn and Alex Kanney both have ERA’s of two or less and Kanney has won five games this year.

          Jensen says their pitchers are consistently giving them a chance to win games.  “We feel really good about our starting pitching.  We feel like with any of our guys that are going to keep us in games and that has been the case all year.  Our pitching has kept us in games all year.  We have lost a lot of close ones, but we have also won a lot of close ones.  We just need to hopefully get a chance to compete and be in ballgames and hopefully our hitting continues to improve gives a chance to win those games,” he said.

          The Bucks (10-16) had 19 chances on Thursday night and made only two errors and that’s not bad.

          Jensen says to win tournament games, which starts next week against Hardin-Northern, they have to be able to make the plays in the field.  “(Thursday) night we talked about Clay threw a two hitter, but he only struck out two and we only had one flyball.  Alex Kanney, our shortstop, had eight assists and we had several all around the infield.  None of our pitchers and going to strikeout 15 a night.  Typically, they do what they have to do and throw strikes and teams will put the ball in play lots of times against them and our defense has really been good all year,” said Jensen.

 

Published 5/14/21

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Shelby Guarantees Share

 

          Again, it came down to the seventh inning between rivals Shelby and Clear Fork, just like it had the night before, and again the Whippets came out on top in beating the Colts (8-7) and claiming no less than a share of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title.

          Shelby staked itself to a (6-2) lead after a four run fifth highlighted by three run double by Jeremy Holloway and an RBI single by Alex Brushkotter.

          Clear Fork, however, would battle back and score five times in the top of seventh scoring on a hit by pitch, a force, and a balk, followed by an infield hit by Drew Lind to tie the game.  Ben Blubaugh would give the Colts a (7-6) lead with an RBI single.

          Shelby would have the last at bat.  Luke Shepherd walked and Tanner Hartz pinch ran for him and took second on a wild pitch, third on a sacrifice fly and scored to tie the game on a passed ball.  Brushkotter drove in the winning run with a single.

          Shelby coach Jon Amicone says the Whippets in that last inning not only proved they had a determination to win, but also to be good teammates.  “It was not the way we drew it up.  We knew Clear Fork wasn’t going to go down without a fight.  You have to tip you cap to them down four runs, a lesser team would have packed it up.  Clear Fork strung some hits together and took some walks and took the lead on us.  Our guys did a really nice job responding.  When we came in from the inning it was more about picking up our pitcher than anything else.  I love to see our guys, one pick up our pitcher, they knew he was hurting.  It was more about picking him up than winning the game.  That was good to see as a coach,” said Amicone.

          Amicone says two freshmen stepped up big for the Whippets Wednesday night when the pressure was on.  “Luke Shepherd was a hero (Tuesday) night and (Wednesday) night drew the walk to start the inning.  We pitch ran with Tanner Hartz, a freshman, that is why he was on the varsity roster (Wednesday) night was to pinch run.  He did a really nice job and was able to go to second base on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “He did a really nice job in not blinking in the biggest game of the year to give us an opportunity.  Scoring that tying run for us, he showed some fearlessness.  The bottom of the order did a really nice job.  It ultimately came down to Alex Brushotter, the freshman, he got a good pitch to hit, put a good swing on it and was able to serve up a single and score the winning run.”

          So, Shelby (20-2,10-2), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, is tied with Ontario, who beat Marion Harding (5-1) on Wednesday, for the lead in the “MOAC”.  However, Ontario (12-9,8-2) must still play Pleasant on Thursday and finish a game with Clear Fork that is tied in the 12th inning.

          Amicone says he would be happy to win the title outright or to share it.  “Quite frankly, like I have said all year, we made our bed and we have to sleep in it.  We took care of our responsibility and we are proud of our guys for that no matter what happens or how it shakes out.  Our guys should be very proud of being able to win 10 straight league games after starting out 0-2 in the league.  A lesser team would have given up and kind of coasted through the season.  Our guys refused to do that.  Our guys took the challenge every league game since then to put a good product on the field.  It is a testament to them to be willing fight through some adversity early on in the year,” said Amicone.

 

Published 5/13/21

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Hillsdale Belts Smithville

 

          Hillsdale extended its winning streak to 10 in a row as they beat Smithville (12-6) in a Wayne County Athletic League game on Wednesday evening.

          They scored eight times in the third inning to take an (11-1) lead and coasted home to the win.  They play Chippewa on Thursday and win will move them into a share of third place in the tough “WCAL” with Norwayne.

          Coach Jason Snow says they were able to utilize their bench.  “We had a nice, big eight run inning that got us going.  Had a lot of line drives.  We found a way to get a big league and got some extra guys some at bats and extra opportunities in the field.  It was a good game for us (Wednesday) after (Tuesday),” he said.

          They banged out 16 hits in the process and Snow says they were more relaxed Wednesday.  “It’s a challenge.  A lot of our players are first year varsity players.  Obviously, a lot of people are in that boat.  We had a variety of situations where are younger players started out great out of the gate.  Then we hit a couple of pitchers that were pretty darn good and then we got into a funk.  It’s about finding a way,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday after the win, “We encourage our players if you are struggling, drop a bunt down, try to get a base hit, try to get a walk, be patient at the plate, just find anyway possible to get on base.  Right now, we have a lot of anxious kids that want to hit the ball.  (Wednesday) night a few guys relaxed and hit some nice line drives and got a positive feeling and hopefully that will carry over for us for the rest of the year.”

          Ty Williams and Nick Kandel both had three hits on Wednesday.  Williams had three RBI.

          Hillsdale (20-5,10-4), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, has picked up a non-conference game against Firelands Conference champion Norwalk St. Paul on Monday.

          Caden Fickes and Mark Able pitched on Wednesday for the Falcons and they walked only one batter.

          Snow says their staff has done a good job of limiting free passes and that has been a key in their success.  “We have been so impressed with our pitchers and not because they go out and necessarily dominate a lineup, but just throwing strikes and making the other team put the ball in play.  (Wednesday) was one of those days that the wind was blowing in.  Both teams had some nice shots that were held up by the wind.  We were like make them hit it over somebody’s head, make them get a line drive base hit, don’t put guys in base.  We have had a couple of games where we have gotten burned by walking a couple of guys and it turns into a three run inning.  We would rather get beat because they beat us with their bats instead of us putting guys on base.  That is our number one thing we have been proud of throwing strikes and consistently being in the zone and ahead of hitters.  Our young guys have really done a nice job, as a whole staff we have done that,” said Snow.

 

Published 5/13/21

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Edison Downs Margaretta

 

          Edison, who has one of the best pitching staffs in the area, got another solid performance on Wednesday evening and beat Margaretta (4-1) in a Bay Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          They are going to finish in second place in the division, a game behind Huron.

          With the tournament starting next week, coach Sean Hoover says they are playing some pretty good baseball.  “We had a good win (Tuesday) night against Bellevue over at Bellevue and a tough game (Wednesday) night with Margaretta, a team that always plays us tough,” he said.

          Edison (14-8,8-2) has a staff ERA of 3.35 and Hoover they had a couple of kids throw well again Wednesday night.  “Thomas Simon gave us five good innings again in starting.  He gave up one earned run and then Joe Pennel came in and threw a couple of solid innings of relief for us,” said Hoover.

          Simon is (7-1) with a 1.52 ERA this season, which is the second best in the Bay Division this year.

          Pennell, Hayden Fox, Keegan Smith all have more than 10 innings pitched this year and ERA’s under 4.00.

          Hoover says his pitchers have improved a bunch this year.  “We would have been a really young pitching staff last year, so for us to kind of watch these pitchers grow especially.  Thomas (Simon) had thrown a lot of innings his freshmen year for us and a couple of other guys had thrown a game or two, but for the most part our staff has been pretty inexperienced,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We have been really happy, especially with the growth with some of our juniors on our pitching staff.  We have had a couple of sophomores and even a couple of freshmen come up and throw well for us.  Guys are learning how to make adjustments at the plate and getting a little better against the better pitchers.  Our defense has started to play a little better at the end of the season here too.  Our guys have definitely shown some good improvements throughout the year.”

 

Published 5/13/21

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Crestview Outscores New London

 

          Crestview beat New London (11-7) on Wednesday night in Firelands Conference action as the Cougars continue their improved play.

          It’s a good time to being doing that with tournament beginning next week.

          Crestview (8-12,4-8) has won six of its last 10 games.

          Coach Don Keener says they have definitely gotten better as this season has unfolded.  “We were playing pretty well there.  We had won five of our last seven and then we didn’t get any games in last week at all.  We started off the week with Mapleton and lost a couple of close ones, but I thought we played good baseball still.  (Wednesday) night we had one tough inning there, but my kids didn’t let it bother them.  We finished it off, so that was good to see,” said Keener.

          At the beginning of the season, Crestview, like many other teams, was very inexperienced, but Keener says they are starting to figure the varsity game out a little bit.  “I think the biggest thing is, and we talked about this before the season, everyone is in a lot of the same situation, but we had no experience at all, but these guys are adjusting,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “I think we have some pretty good talented players, but it’s a different level playing varsity baseball.  I think they are adjusting a little bit and getting used to each other a little more and starting to come together.”

          Kenner says the Cougars have been putting some hits together and (Wednesday) night against New London was another example.  “We have been hitting the ball well.  We have been pitching pretty well too.  Our biggest letdown throughout the season is our defense sometimes.  When you put the ball in play good things happen,” he said.

 

Published 5/13/21

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Shelby Get Huge Win over Clear Fork

 

          Shelby needed a win Tuesday to stay in first place and they got it edging Clear Fork (4-3) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game at American Legion Field in Bellville.

          They are tied with Ontario for first place in the conference.  Clear Fork drops two back.  Ontario beat Marion Harding (2-0) on Tuesday.

          Shelby scored twice in the top of the seventh to break a (2-2) tie and then stranded two Colt runners in scoring position to end the game.

          Whippets coach Jon Amicone says it was a well played high school baseball game and they were able to come up with some clutch plays.  “I thought it was really clean and crisp on both ends.  I think that was two really good teams there that were scratching and clawing for every out and every run.  I think that is about as good as high school baseball gets,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Obviously, we were very fortunate at the end that Luke came up with a big hit for us and his brother Marshall in the seventh kind of bowed his neck and got two really big outs with the tying run on third.  Those two kids are big time and you need your big time players to play and they a nice job of closing the game out for us.”

          Mareck Albert pounded a solo homer over the centerfield fence in the first inning to give Shelby a (1-0) lead and it stayed that way until the fifth when Alex Bruskotter singled and scored on a squeeze by Blane Bowman making (2-0) Whippets.

          Clear Fork scored in their half of the fifth when Kaden Riddle doubled and scored when two out fly ball off the bat of Ben Blubaugh was dopped and the tied it in the sixth when Kaleb Hollar walked, advanced on two wild pitches and scored on a ground ball by David Ballinger.

          In the top of the seventh, Doran Steele had one out single, Bowman walked, and Marshall Shepherd was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Luke Shepherd came up with a two run single up the middle to give the Whippets a (4-2) lead.

          However, Clear Fork wasn’t done.  Blubaugh walked with one out in the bottom of the seventh and Luke Schlosser was hit by a pitch.  Jared Scott then ripped a double down the leftfield line to score Blubaugh and put runners at second and third still with only one out.  Marshall Shepherd then stuck out Hollar on a 3-2 pitch and got Ballinger to fly to right to end the game.

          Clear Fork coach Joe Staab was proud of his team’s effort.  “Our boys came out and battled (Tuesday).  Jared Scott was an absolute bulldog on the mound.  We found ways to put the ball in play and compete offensively when we needed to we just didn’t get that big hit and that is where we fell short.  We rallied as a group and competed really, really well.  We just came up a little short against a good team,” said Staab.

          Colts pitcher Jared Scott went six and two thirds and struck out 10.

          Luke Shepherd had struck out twice in three trips before delivering in the seventh.  “I liked his approach.  He jumped on the first pitch, I think he was looking for something specific and he got it and didn’t miss.  It was really good job by him being ready to go when he got to the box, not taking any pitches, and really stepping up for his team,” said Amicone.

          Marshall Shepherd allowed juts five hits, walked one, and fanned nine for Shelby in going the distance.

          Amicone says he got the two biggest outs of the season in the seventh.  “He is our number one for a reason.  Once those two guys got on, his pitch count was getting up and we decided as a coaching staff that we were going to stay with our guy.  He got us to this point so far.  You could sleep the night win or lose with that kid on the mound and we went with it.  Marshall had our back and his teammates back and he got the biggest two outs of the whole season,” said Amicone.

          Clear Fork (9-12,5-4) plays at Shelby (19-2,9-2), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, on Wednesday.

          Staab says they want to play spoiler.  “They are a good ballclub.  We have a good team when we can show up and play at our best potential, which is what you have to do.  We are out of the league race, but we still play with pride and the biggest pride right now is trying to knock somebody else out of the league race.  That’s what out goal is.  Out goal is to show up and compete and finish out the rest of the season getting ready for next week,” said Staab.

          The Whippets have won their last 19 baseball games going into Wednesday, but Amicone says they are not taking anything for granted.  “We have always told our kids you have to take care of yourself and that’s what we have been doing since the first two early losses.  Not looking at the scores and just taking care of yourself and things will work out well for you.  I told our guys get ready for a dogfight (Wednesday).  Joe is going to have his guys ready to go, so we know we will have our work cut out for us,” he said.

 

Published 5/12/21

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Ontario Stays Even

 

          Ontario remains in a share of first place with Shelby in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference after a crucial (2-0) win over Marion Harding at home on Tuesday evening.

           Shelby beat Clear Fork (4-3) to knock the Colts out of the conference race.

          The Warriors (11-9,7-2) got a complete game victory from Ryan Chapman and pushed across runs in the fifth and sixth innings to secure the win.

          Coach Jeff Fisher says Chapman might have had his best outing of the season at crucial moment for the Warriors.  “Ryan Chapman was exceptional (Tuesday) night.  He got ahead early.  He kept the ball out of the dirt in counts that he needed to.  He was in command through all seven innings,” he said.

          The key for Chapman, according to Fisher, was to get ahead in the count with strike one because that allowed him to pick spots for his pitches.  “It’s the most important pitch in baseball.  That is something that has been elusive for us this year.  I think over the past week we have been much more in tune to making that happen for us.  It just gives us the advantage of being able to use the whole zone and work up and down,” said Fisher.

          Chapman permitted four hits, walked one and struck on seven.

          Ontario got on the scoreboard when Colten Ramion drove in Carter Weaver with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth and they got an insurance run on sacrifice fly by Kyle Walters in the sixth.

          At the plate, Fisher told his kids to remain patient and eventually they were able to break through.  “You tell your guys to be patient and have quality at bats and hopefully the second or third time though the lineup you get some advantages.  It was Carter Weaver’s base hit that set the table for clutch RBI single by Colt Ramion,” said Fisher.

          Now, Ontario still has three games to play in the “MOAC”.  They play at Marion Harding (7-13,2-8) on Wednesday, host Pleasant on Thursday and still have to finish a game with Clear Fork that is tied (10-10) going to the 12th inning, there is a pretty good chance that will happen on Saturday at Ontario prior to a JV game.

          Fisher says winning at Harding certainly is not a given by any means.  “Going to Marion Harding, or Grant Middle School, is a difficult environment and it’s never easy to play and win at Marion Harding.  It’s just having to grind it out and find a way to come out on top,” he told Swankonsports on Tuesday night, “Marion Harding is not going to let down.  They played hard (Tuesday) night and played completive, probably well enough to win on some days.  It is not going to be easy to come out on top.”

 

Published 5/12/21

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St. Paul Claims Firelands Conference Title

 

          Norwalk St. Paul claimed its fourth straight Firelands Conference championship with a (2-0) win over Plymouth it what amounted to a conference title game Tuesday evening at Plymouth.

          Scotty Adelman went the distance for the Flyers (18-6,12-2) allowing no runs on four hits, walked two and struck out 14.  Zeth Goth was nearly as good for the Big Red (12-7,10-3) in a losing effort.

          Coach Aaron Fries says this is something the Flyers have worked hard to secure.  “I’m just really happy for the kids.  I know how hard they have worked.  It has been a grind this entire season.  We knew the game (Tuesday) night was going to be tough.  It was exactly how I saw it playing out being a low scoring game.  We were going to need to manufacture a run here and there.  Whoever was able to do that was likely to come out on top and fortunately for us it was St. Paul,” he said.

          Fries says Adelman is a hard worker and a tremendous competitor and that showed on Tuesday.  “He was fantastic again.  He has just been outstanding on the road.  I had some decisions to make after our games got switched.  We were originally supposed to play on the road on Monday, but due to weather we ended up playing at home on Monday.  So, I had some decisions to make there and I just decided we were going to keep him on the road even if that meant waiting until Tuesday.  He made me look pretty smart,” said Fries.

          In the pivotal seventh inning, Jaycob Stanley led off with an infield single.  Thomas Bocock was hit by a pitch.  Both runners would advance on a passed ball.  Luke Blum’s infield single scored the first run and the second scored on a ground ball.  Adelman struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to close the door on the Big Red.

          Fries says they knew runs were going to be tough to come by.  “I don’t think a ball left the infield.  We were just able to get some guys aboard.  We took advantage of a few misplays on their part.  Our goal and we know there are going to be tight games, especially when there are good pitchers on both sides.  We just try to get guys to third base as soon as we possibly can with less than two outs.  The more often we do that, the better off we are going to be,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We know we can push a few in here or there and we did that (Tuesday) night.  We had a few innings when we had guys at third base and we weren’t able to take advantage early in the game.  In that seventh inning we were finally able to break through not only got one but we got two.  We felt good going to the bottom of the seventh with a 2-0 lead.”

 

Published 5/12/21

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Lexington Trims Mt. Vernon

 

          Lexington got a confidence boost going into the tournament next week on Tuesday when they beat Mt. Vernon (2-1) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.

          It was pretty much the Chase Carter show for the Minutemen as he was masterful on the mound and got the game winning hit.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says it was a quality win the Minutemen.  “Mt. Vernon is always a really good team in the “OCC”.  We have been hanging on with a lot of people.  We just haven’t been able to scratch enough runs to get a win.  We played Shelby hard, Buckeye Valley, going all of the way back to New Philadelphia, West Holmes, we just couldn’t score enough runs.  We kept it there 1-1 going to extra innings and Chase Carter hit a walk off single.  It was a nice win against a good team,” he said.

          With Carter and Cole Pauley, the Minutemen have had quality starting pitching this spring.  Morrow their problem has been with the bats in their hands.  “We said going into the season with those two pitchers if we could find some runs we could be a factor.  We haven’t been able to do that too much, but they have been pitching so well they have been keeping they have been keeping teams down to zero runs, or one, or even two,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Chase Carter had another gem (Tuesday) night went almost eight innings and kept it right there for us and he ended up winning it for himself with a nice line drive single.”

          Carter did a lot (Tuesday) night, but Morrow says he also had some sound defense behind him.  “He has been something special all year long.  He is some kid.  He is one of a kind.  He is our catcher.  He catches Cole Pauley and he pitches and he has been doing it all year and been rock solid.  The defense we really good (Tuesday) night.  Cole Pauley, Kevin Grimm, Landon Goetz and Gabe Hamilton made some really nice defensive plays.  Chase kept it right there and didn’t give in an we found a way to win it,” said Morrow.

 

Published 5/12/21

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Clear Fork gets Outright Title

 

          Clear Fork rallied to beat Shelby (7-5) on Monday and earn an outright Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title.

          They scored four times in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a tie and take a (7-3) lead and survived a couple of Shelby solo home runs in the seventh to remain unbeaten in the conference.

          It is Clear Fork’s 11th conference title in the “MOAC” and the Ohio Cardinal Conference since 2003.

          Head coach Jeff Gottfried, who has been there for all of them, says it never gets old.  “You cherish those opportunities that you get because they don’t always come around.  Kudos to our team.  They just battled.  They have battled all year long.  There is just so much confidence and belief in that dugout right now.  It got 3-3 and nobody panicked.  It was just keep on playing.  It is just a seven inning game, sometimes eight, sometimes nine.  Our kids are going to play to the end,” said Gottfried.

          Clear Fork (18-7,11-0) scored in the bottom of first the when Courtney Palmer walked, stole second and third and scored on Hallie Gottfried’s sacrifice fly.  Palmer homered to open the third and Ashtynn Roberts doubled and scored on an RBI hit by Renee Anders.  It was (3-0) Lady Colts and Roberts sailed through the first four innings not allowing a hit and striking out four.

          However, there was not quit in the Lady Whippets.  Megan Grass blasted a three run homer in the fifth to tie it at (3-3) and put the Clear Fork crowd getting ready to celebrate on edge.

          Coach Samantha Martin says her team has been improving.  “I have been telling them from the very beginning if we work towards being error free, I feel we are just as good as any team.  We are young.  Basically, I have been preaching every day try to be error free.  The past umpteen games we are getting closer and closer to that and seeing better and better results,” said Martin.

          Like championship teams do, Clear Fork responded by scoring four times in the bottom of the sixth.  Anders began the uprising with a leadoff double.  She would score on likely the biggest hit of the game when pinch hitter Maddi Dion ripped a one out double to right center.

          Gottfried says Dion has been red hot.  “The ball looks like a beachball in her eyes right now.  She had a big day on Saturday.  Had a big end to last week.  She has confidence and we have confidence in her.  That’s what I’m taking about, it’s our entire team.  It’s more than the nine starters.  There are some kids that don’t even get in the ballgame and they are just as big a part of what we are doing as the kids that play every inning of every game.  They are loud, they are vocal and they are always into it,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “Certain kids, maybe on other teams, may set in the dugout and pout because they are not in games, but she knows, always be ready.  It might be coming into pitch, going into pinch hit and Maddi had a big hit for us.”

          Kylie Belcher reached on an error, scoring Grace DeWitt, who had run for Dion.  Reghan Barker doubled in a run and Palmer singled in another to make (7-3) after six.

          Shelby (9-15,4-7) again made it interesting when Kendal Parsons and Sadie Smith hit solo home runs off Dion, who had relived Roberts.

          Martin says they have some pop this year.  “We definitely have some girls that can put some power behind it.  We have struggled sometimes with timely hits, but (Monday) night it seemed like we had some timey hits that we needed as well,” he said.

          Gottfried says he told the players when Shelby was making its comeback that nobody was going to cut them any slack.  “I told them between innings.  You guys are so tight, you can’t drive a nail in there.  You have to relax and just play.  I said this game, it’s just a game, it really doesn’t mean anything, but it is the atmosphere that you are going to see for the next week.  If you don’t think everybody is going to give you their best shot, they are going to.  Shelby knew what they were coming in against.  They wanted to knock us off, but our kids rose to the occasion,” he said.

          Clear Fork has had a number of all state players in Gottfried’s 22 year career.  He says this year is all about team.  “I just think the togetherness, the chemistry that is there.  We don’t have great, great players, but we have a great team, and that is the mark of this club.  We have had better players in the past, don’t get me wrong, we have some very, very good and talented players, but it takes the whole unit.  The girls were asking me (Monday) how may home runs we have hit and we upped it by one (Monday), but they thing is we have seven different girls that have hit home runs.  In this place it is not hard to do, you saw ball fly out a little bit (Monday).  Every kid trusts each other and they trust the process,” said Gottfried.

 

Published 5/11/21

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Plymouth Win Creates Title Game

 

          Cole Wentz threw a no-hitter on Monday evening and Plymouth beat Norwalk St. Paul (5-0) to force a Firelands Conference title game on Tuesday at Plymouth.

          The Big Red scored three times in the third inning, including RBI hits by Zeth Goth and Trace McVey and a sacrifice fly.  They added two more in the sixth on an RBI single by Wentz and Clayton Miller scored on a wild pitch.

          A game behind St. Paul going in, Plymouth was in a must win situation and coach Jake Strayer says they delivered.  “It was absolutely our biggest game of the year.  We had to have this one if we wanted any shot at the league.  Cole Wentz came out and threw his butt off, he threw a seven inning no hitter, which is the first one that I have coached against a great hitting St. Paul team,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “They have guys that can hit the ball around all over.  We came out and did what we needed to do and played a compete game and set up essentially a winner take all (Tuesday) at our place.  What else can you ask for other than a chance?  All you need is a chance.”

          Tyler Perkins was also pretty good for the Flyers in going all seven and giving up only two earned runs.

          St. Paul coach Aaron Fries says Wentz says did a good job of keeping them off balance and the Big Red made the defensive plays they had too.  “Give Plymouth a lot of credit, they had their backs to the wall and came out and had an all world performance.  Wentz was excellent on the mound.  He was not overpowering, but he did a great job of attacking our hitters and his defense played well behind him.  Even when we did hit the ball hard, they were in the right position to make the plays.  I thought Tyler pitched well.  Defensively, we made a few mistakes and they were able to take advantage of it with some timely hitting.  We have to regroup,” said Fries.

          Wentz walked two and struck out seven Flyers.  Stayer says he was on top of this game and get the ball in the zone, not wasting pitches.  “He threw a lot of strikes.  He kept his pitch count down for the most part.  He went into some deep at bats, but he also got a lot of one pitch outs, two pitch outs.  He was all around the zone.  He had only two walks all night.  On top of that his defense played a great game behind him, we only had one error.  I think he would tell you the last time he came out he wasn’t throwing as hard as he usually does or had his best stuff.  (Monday) night he made up for it.  He came out and pitched a brilliant game,” said Stayer.

          Plymouth (12-6,10-2) will host St. Paul (17-6,11-2) in what is now the biggest game of the season for both sides.

          Stayer says these are games competitors want to be in.  “Growing up these are the games you want to play in.  This is fun.  This is what high school sports is all about.  This is absolutely what every kid should want to play in.  Every kid of both teams (Tuesday) should beyond excited to play in this game,” he said.

 

Published 5/11/21

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Norwalk Edges Vermilion

 

          In a possible preview of a sectional final next week, Norwalk beat division champion Vermilion (1-0) on Monday night in a Sandusky Bay Conference River Division game.

          Norwalk would score a run in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI hit by Ian Minor.  Thomas Gfell would go the distance throwing a shutout for the Truckers.

          Coach Wes Douglas says it was a very good win for them.  “I am feeling pretty good about our team (Monday) night.  It is an up and down process with us.  It was a well played game by both teams.  We scored a run in the bottom of the first.  Their pitcher Jacob Krausher pitched outstanding and our pitcher Thomas Gfell battled all night and maybe pitched the best game of his career,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “After a couple of tough losses the last couple of games it was a great win.  We actually threw out the tying run at the plate to end the game.”

          If Norwalk (14-10) would be Perkins in a sectional semifinal next week they would advance to play at Vermilion (17-6) in division II sectional final.

          Douglas identified Monday night as perhaps Gfell’s best outing as a Trucker.  He says he was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes.  “He has been our number one for the last couple of years.  He struggled a little bit the last time we played them, but he was on his game (Monday) night.  He had four pitches working and kept them off balance.  Neither pitcher walked a guy.  We had one error late and I think maybe they had one error.  It was a pretty well played high school baseball game,” he said.

          The lone run in the game was scored by Sam Battles, who had singled to lead off the bottom of the first inning, and scored on Minor’s single.

          Douglas says the Battles and Nate Adleman combined to retire a Vermilion runner at home plate for the last out of the game.  “Sammy Battles led the game off with a hit, which he has done more times than not this year, stole second base, and with two out Ian Minor had a clean hit.  We threatened one other time.  They threatened maybe once and that was in the seventh inning.  They had runners at first and second and they hit a little blooper over first.  The runner on second, they sent him, which I would have too.  Nate Adelman threw a strike and Sammy Battles put the tag on and the ballgame was over.  It was a fun ballgame,” said Douglas.

 

Published 5/11/21

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Fredericktown Earns Co-Title

 

          Fredericktown’s game with Centerburg last Friday had to be postponed to Monday and the Freddies knew going in that they need to win in order to share the title in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference.

          They did just that with a (8-1) win over the Trojans on Monday evening.  This gives the Freddies at least a share of four straight titles in the “KMAC”.

          Coach Ryan Hathaway says it was exciting to know they were in a must win situation.  “It is fun to have that pressure on you at the end of the season going into the tournament,” he said.

          Fredericktown (19-3,13-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, shares the title with Highland.  They split with the Scots this year.  It was the only loss in the conference for both schools.

          In big games like this you need solid pitching and Hathaway says they got that on Monday night.  “Lincoln Cunningham threw a complete game.  He was his best start I think of his whole career.  It was great to see (Monday) night and hopefully he has a couple more left in him,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night.

          The Freddies have blown some teams out this season, but Hathaway says they are more focused in games like Monday.  “I think it makes it more fun and they just seem to be a different team when they lock in an actually be competing it seems like every pitch.  It is fun when you get play that kind of game,” he said.

 

Published 5/11/21

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Baseball Matchups Set

 

           Baseball coaches in Ohio spent a portion of Mother’s Day determining brackets for the state baseball tournament, which beings next week.

          When is comes to big schools, the two Northwest District schools in this area play each other as Mansfield Madison is at Ashland on May 17.  The winner plays at Anthony Wayne, the top seed on, May 19.

          “When you are the 13th seed your choices are limited.  Instead of playing the third seed Toledo St. John’s or the fourth seed Oregon Clay.  We went for a home game,” said Ashland coach Rick Gough,

          “We enter the tournament as the 14 seed in our district and we chose to play Ashland on the road.  From a travel standpoint it’s great for us game one, obviously, but it’s a team we are familiar with given we have already played them twice this year and we are in the same conference.  It feels like a good situation for us,” said Madison coach Nate Taylor.

          In the Northeast Wooster, the Ohio Cardinal Conference leader, is the number 12 seed and plays at 10th seeded Strongsville on May 20.

          “We are fortunate enough to have earned a bye into the sectional final and look forward to competing against a very solid Strongsville team at their place.  Both teams will be best on best with both of us having a bye, so we need to play a clean game and be ready to compete from the first pitch.  We’re excited for the opportunity and looking forward to postseason baseball for the first time in two years,” said Wooster coach Steve Young.

          In the Central district, Mt. Vernon, of the “OCC”, plays May 19, at home against Gahanna-Lincoln or Reynoldsburg.

          In division II, there are area schools in a number of districts.

          In the Fremont District, Vermilion, the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division Champion is the first seed, Shelby, co-leader of the Mid-Ohio Athletic the second, Huron, the third seed and Norwalk number four.

          “Our district is loaded with good teams.  There will be a lot of great high school baseball games,” said Vermilion coach Jeff Keck.

          There is one semifinal in the upper bracket and Port Clinton is at Sandusky on May 19 with the winner playing at Vermilion on May 21,

          The other sectional final Sandusky Perkins at Norwalk on May 21.

          “No surprises really.  I think we have played Pekins four or five years in a row in the sectionals and we each other well.  If we get to Vermilion, the number one seed, it will take our best effort but as they say… if you want to be the best you have to beat the best.  A lot of teams playing good baseball right now,” said Norwalk baseball coach Wes Douglas.

          There are two semis in the lower bracket.  Mansfield Senior plays at Bellevue the 19th with the winner traveling to Shelby on the 21st.  Clear Fork is at Clyde on May 19 and Huron awaits the winner on May 21.

          “We are excited for the opportunity to play a really good Bellevue team.  We’ve been very competitive this year and hopefully it will be our day that day,” said Mansfield Senior coach J.R, Davis.

          “I don’t think there is any good draw with the quality teams in this district.  We have never played Mansfield Senior, so we are excited about that opportunity,” said Bellevue coach Andy Dennings.

          “I think when you look at some of the matchups in the first round you get a good understanding of how tough this district is.  Truly a gauntlet for every team,” said Shelby coach Jon Amicone.

          “It will be a grind each night of the tournament.  We need to be playing our best baseball to be in the mix,” said Clear Fork coach Joe Staab.

          There is also a district that finishes at Bluffton High School.  Lima Shawnee is the top seed followed by Tiffin Columbian, St. Mary’s Memorial and Galion.

          In the upper bracket Fostoria is at Celina on May 19 with the winner playing at Shawnee on May 21.  Elida is at Galion on May 21 a sectional final.

          In the lower bracket, Upper Sandusky is at Ontario the 19th with the winner traveling to Tiffin Columbian the 21st.  Lexington is at Wapakoneta on the 19th and the winner earns a matchup with St. Mary’s Memorial on the 21st.

          “A lot of new faces with the intersection of our district with the “WBL”.  We look forward to hosting Upper in sectional finals,” said Ontario coach Jeff Fisher.

          “We will try our luck in the Tiffin side of the bracket by starting postseason against Wapakoneta,” said Lexington coach Kevin Morrow.

          In the Central District, Highland, the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference champ is the number two seed.  They will host either River Valley or Columbus East on May 20.

          “We are excited to have received the number two seed, but the tournament is like a new season.  Everyone starts out 0-0 and teams that play smart baseball and make the fewer amount of mistakes will get to play another game.  At this point in the season it is truly survive and advance,” said Highland coach Donnie Kline.

          In division III, in the Shelby district, Colonel Crawford, the Northern 10 Athletic Conference champion is the top seed, followed by Edison with the second seed, Wynford the third seed and Woodmore the fourth.

          The matchups look this way.

          On May 19, Bucyrus is at Oak Harbor with winner playing at Colonel Crawford on May 21.  In the other upper bracket semis New London is at Wynford and Crestview at Genoa on the 19th with the winners meeting on the 21st.

          “Oak Harbor and Bucyrus are two schools with a good baseball tradition.  The 9-11 Oak Harbor record is deceiving because they play a tough schedule,” said Colonel Crawford coach Dan Gorbett.

          “We are pleased with our bracket draw.  The opportunity to host our sectional is exciting.  If we play up to our seed and get the opportunity to play Colonel Crawford again in the districts is all we can ask,” said Wynford coach Tom Smith.

          “We have drawn Genoa, which looks like they have played quality opponents this year.  They have had some good teams in the past and should be a very sound team.  We will have to play a great overall game, but I think we are capable to doing that,” said Crestview coach Don Keener.

          In the lower bracket Western Reserve is at Gibsonburg on May 19 and the winner travels to Edison on May 21.  Willard is at Woodmore and Margaretta at Seneca East on the 19th with winners playing on the 21st.

          “We are looking forward to the opportunity to compete for a championship in a tough district,” said Edison coach Sean Hoover.

          “I’m happy with our draw, but it will definitely be very challenging.  We play a good Margaretta team in our first game.  They are a well coached team, so we have to be playing at our best,” said Seneca East coach Rick Bowerman,

          There are a number of schools covered by Swankonsports.com that are in the Central District in division III.  North Union is at Marion Pleasant, Columbus Academy travels to Centerburg and Fairbanks at Mt. Gilead on May 20.  Northmor plays the 20th too against either West Jefferson of Madison Plains.  Also on the 20th, Fredericktown will play either Johnstown Northridge or Marion Elgin.

          “There was a lot more passing than I have ever seen.  We are fortunate, we’ll get to watch our opponent play.  At the end of the day, we have to play well to beat anyone in our district,” said Northmor coach Buck Workman.

          “We had the opportunity to go where we wanted and let the teams fill in around us.  Having the number one seed Worthington Christian in our bracket will be tough, but I like the matchups we have,” said Fredericktown coach Ryan Hathaway.

          In the Northeast District Norwayne District, Loudonville hosts Oberlin on May 17.  The winner would travel to top seeded Canton Central Catholic May 19.  Norwayne plays at Lutheran West on the 17th and the winner goes to Black River the 19th.  Smithville is at Chippewa May 17 with winner advancing to play Elyria Catholic the 19th.  Orrville is at East Canton the 17th with the winner at Kirtland on May 19.

          At the Copley District, Waynedale, the number two seed, hosts either Brooklyn or Cleveland Villa Angela St. Joseph on May 19.  Akron Manchester plays host to Fairview Park on May 17 and the winner plays at Wellington on the 19th.  Northwestern is at Tuslaw on the 17th with winner advancing to play Gilmour Academy on the 19th.

          Among small schools there is a district in Galion.  Mohawk in the number one seed, Plymouth number two, South Central number three and Crestline number four.

          “We put ourselves in the best position we could with the number one seed and let the chips fall where they may after us.  There are probably eight or nine teams capable of winning this district.  I feel like we have all beat up on each other throughout the season and it will come down to who makes the fewest mistakes in the tournament games.  Getting a couple lucky breaks always helps too,” said Mohawk coach Eric Hoover.

          Upper Scioto Valley is at Carey in an upper bracket semi on May 18 with the winner traveling to Mohawk for a game on May 20.

          The other semifinal in the upper bracket has Hardin Northern at Buckeye Central on the 18th with winner getting South Central on the 20th.

          “We are happy with our draw.  Anytime we can host a tournament game is a great thing for our kids, school and community,” said Buckeye Central coach Chad Jensen.

          “I like how the brackets are set up.  We will have a challenge against whoever wins the Hardin-Northern at Buckeye Central game, so we will be focused on being prepared.  We aren’t looking past anyone.  Every team in the district has talent,” said South Central coach Mike Perry.

          In the lower bracket, Mansfield Christian is at Lucas on May 18 with the winner playing at Plymouth on May 20.  Ridgeway Ridgemont is at Arlington on the 18th with the winner playing on the road at Crestline on the 20th.

          There is a division IV district at Clyde where Hopewell-Loudon is the top seed, followed by Norwalk St. Paul, Tiffin Calvert and Fremont St. Joe.

          “Really happy with the number two seed and having the opportunity to host a sectional final at our place.  Our district is full of good teams who are well coached.  Whoever advances will certainly earn it.  We like who we are, but we know we will need to be playing our best to win and advance,” said St. Paul coach Aaron Fries.

          There are three semis in the upper bracket.  Old Fort is at Danbury Lakeside on May 18 and the winner plays at Hopewell-Loudon on May 20.  Monroeville is Fremont St, Joe and Vanlue at Toledo Christian on the 18th with the winners playing on the 20th.

          In the lower bracket, Sandusky St, Mary’s is at Cardinal Stritch on May 18 and the winner travels to St. Paul.  Arcadia is at New Riegel on the 18th with the winner going to Calvert.

          In the Northeast district, Hillsdale, who advanced all of the way to the state final in 2019, plays hosts Mapleton or Kidron Central Christian on May 20.  “We look forward to the start of tourney time and all of the excitement that is involved,” said Hillsdale coach Jason Snow.

 

Published 5/09/21

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Clear Fork Earns Co-Title

 

          Clear Fork routed Marion Harding (23-2) in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference play on Thursday evening and in the process claimed no less than a share of the conference softball title.

          They lead River Valley, who beat Pleasant (9-7) on Thursday, by two with two conference games left.  They play Shelby next Monday and Wednesday and a win in one of those games will give them the outright title.

          Coach Jeff Gottfried is very proud of his whole team and how they have bounded and become a tight knit team this year.  “You start the year with COVID following a year when you didn’t play at all and you didn’t really know going into the season what you had.  We set down and do our goals and we thought on paper we could be competitive, but when we got down to it, we had five kids that played any varsity competition prior to this year.  Four of them were starters and the other was just a base runner for us.  We had over half of the team out on the field with zero varsity experience for us.  One thing I really like about this team is they have embraced their roles whether they are starters or role players.  Whatever they have been asked to do, they have done it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “Our dugout is amazing with the energy.  They are genuinely excited for their teammates when their teammates do something well.  It is not, hey, look what I did.  The comments that are coming from the circle, do you remember what so and so did?  They are always talking about a teammate and how good they played and that is what I value most in our program and what the kids have done so far this year.”

          The Lady Colts (15-7,10-0) pounded out 22 hits on Thursday.  Pacey Chrastina had four of them.  Courtney Palmer, Hallie Gottfried and Ashtynn Roberts had three apiece.  Gottfried and Maddi Dion had home runs against Harding.  Palmer and Gottfried each had four RBI.

          Roberts went all five innings giving up no earned runs on three hits and striking out 11.

          When this season started six weeks ago, Gottfried was not sure when he had, but he says this team has got nothing but better.  “If there is one thing I could say about this team I think from game one to game 22 there has been improvement all of way along.  If you compare our team from the first three scrimmages that we had to now and you would not believe it is the same team.  There is so much confidence from all of our kids one through nine and the kids that are coming off the bench and getting opportunities.  They are just hungry.  When they are going in to hit for somebody else, the starter that came out of the game, they are absolutely complementary of their teammate going in and doing the job.  Just seeing the growth and maturity off all of our players is just very, very pleasing to me and our coaching staff,” said Gottfried.

          When it comes to the league title, Gottfried says they want it to themselves.  “We have two games to get one and that guarantees an outright championship.  Coaches say it, and it cliché, take it one game at time, but that is what we have done all season.  We have two non-conference games on Saturday against Madison to really give us a good test of where we are a within the district.  They are a solid team and well coached by coach (Tim) Niswander.  We have to go to Shelby on Monday and play them again on Wednesday.  Hopefully, we can get this thing and be a little selfish and claim it outright,” he said.

 

Published 5/07/21

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Ontario Takes Care of Business

 

          Caden Armstrong scattered three hits in going the distance in Ontario’s five inning (12-0) destruction of Marion Pleasant to keep the Warriors in a share of first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

          Ontario (9-9,6-2) shares first place with Shelby a game in front of Clear Fork.  The Warriors host Pleasant on Friday while Shelby is at home with River Valley, as always weather permitting.

          Coach Jeff Fisher says they got solid performances from their seniors.  “We put three up in the first and that really catapulted us.  I was really happy with how the seniors preformed (Thursday) night.  Armstrong, (Owen) Hatfield, and (Ryan) Brophy, specifically.  They had the games that you would expect out of your leadership,” he said.

          Hatfield had three hits on the day for the Warriors.  Gage Weaver added two.

          Fisher says leadership is important when you are battling for a conference title.  “You hope the maturity piece can evolve to where they feel comfortable within the game and all of that adversity that comes.  “Army” had a rough outing on the mound a week ago and (Thursday) he threw a ton of strikes.  It really put our staff at piece.  We are not running guys to the bullpen all night long,” said Fisher.

          Fisher says pitchers are becoming more efficient and they are making the plays in the field too.  “When you limit the freebees without walks and wild pitches you know behind defensively over the last three plus ballgames we have been pretty stout there.  I can only recollect one error over the last three games including the suspended game against Clear Fork.  So, we have been catching it and throwing it cleanly and it really gives us a chance to win,” said Fisher.

          With important games to play, Fisher says that keeps the players engaged and ready to play.  “Especially in spring sports when you get into the month of May and you find yourself down the line a little bit kids can be distracted with prom and everything that goes with graduation,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “It an exciting time in their high school lives, but at the same time the baseball team has to stay focused and have their eye on the prize.  At this point right now, our kids are in a place when they are having meaningful games here in May.”

 

Published 5/07/21

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Colonel Crawford Stays Unbeaten

 

          Colonel Crawford has played 20 baseball games this year and they have won them all, including Thursday when they beat Ridgedale (10-0) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game.

          Last week, they won an undisputed “N10” title and coach Dan Gorbett says they were able to extend what has been a tremendous year in athletics at Colonel Crawford.  “That was our number one goal.  Football had won it, basketball had won it, that is pretty unique that you win all three main sports.  We have four kids that play football, basketball and baseball on the team, so that tells you a lot about those kids.  It was pretty nice getting that clinched ahead of time,” he said.

          Gorbett, who has been assistant football coach as well over his long and successful career, believes there is a great benefit to playing multiple sports.  “The number one key in any sport, and especially baseball, is confidence and belief in yourself and handling adversity and failure.  You can’t practice those things.  You can’t work on those things in the off season.  You have to experience and live it.  So, I always tell our kids two outs in the bottom of the seventh is no different being on the foul line with two seconds left and you have to hit those,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “Being in competition makes you a better football, basketball, baseball player, etc.  It’s a shame that so many kids are specializing in sports.  I love when I see in Facebook these athletes were multi-sport athletes.  Tom Brady, you can name just a bunch of outstanding players that play more than one sport.  So, I think that is very, very important.”

          Pitching has been the number one reason for the success of the Eagles (20-0,15-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, this year.  Cade Hamilton and Drayton Burkkart both have ERA’s under two for the season and they have combined to be (16-0) for the year.

          Gorbett says sometimes he is baffled why they aren’t noticed more, but they just go about their business.  “Drayton Burkhart was outstanding (Thursday).  He and Cade Hamilton have had outstanding careers on the mound and they are both hitting well too.  Last week, the biggest secret in area sports Cade Hamilton threw a no hitter and hits for the cycle in one week and nobody knows that.  I thought that was definitely player of the week credentials and nothing.  We just keep plugging away quietly doing our thing and the kids are having a great time and that is all that’s important,” said Gorbett.

 

Published 5/07/21

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Wooster Belts Madison

 

          Wooster scored 12 times in the third inning and went on to blast Madison (15-0) in five innings in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Thursday evening at Madison.

          The Generals (11-6,7-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com coaches poll in the large school division, lead both Mt. Vernon and West Holmes by two in the conference standings.

          Already leading (2-0), the Generals brought 17 batters to the plate and faced three different Madison pitchers in collecting nine hits in that third inning.  Eight of the hits were singles.  Blake Bowen’s double was the only extra base it.

          Coach Steve Young says the finally found some rhythm.  “That is what we talked coming over here.  We have had a rough two and half, three weeks here.  We haven’t been able to get games in with COVID, snow, rain.  There has been no consistency and no rhythm.  We have played few games here and really haven’t swung it very well, but at the same time we have been barreling balls up right at people and we are getting Texas leaguers against us.  We just told our guys to say with it, stay with the approach, don’t change anything and they will start to fall a little bit.  It is starting to come back around.  Hopefully, we can get some more games in and get some timing and rhythm,” said Young.

          Madison coach Nate Taylor says they don’t have pitchers with big time stuff and they get hurt more the deeper they get into games.  “The third inning this year has been the bane of our existence.  By the time they roll back over to the top of the lineup they have made some adjustments.  We don’t have strikeout guys for the most part, we pitch to contact.  They are able to adjust and stay back a little bit.  Give them credit they hit some balls wll, but there was a bloop here, a dink and dunk there.  When you are not playing really well, nothing seems to go your way,” said Taylor.

          Bowen had two doubles, two runs scored, and an RBI for the Generals.  Jack Williams drove in three.

          Chris Franks gave up only one hit over four innings to get the win for Wooster.

          Wooster started out the season winning nine of its first 11 and Young says hopefully they can get back on a streak.  “It is something we talk about every single day all of our goals are still ahead of us.  Our number one goal is the get to Akron for the state championship and number two is the outright “OCC” title.  It has been a goal since we started with the first day of tryouts.  We talk about it every day, we preach it, otherwise our kids start getting nervous about it.  We know at this point we kind of control our own destiny,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “We have to come out and play a clean game every time out.  We have seen it, if you let teams hang around, and you make mistakes, they make you pay for it.  So, just want to play clean baseball and make sure we are taking care of business.”

          Wooster is scheduled to host Madison on Saturday.

          Young says more than anything they need to play more games.  “To be totally honest it wears on you.  You want to be outside.  It is springtime, you are in the middle of your season, you are trying to prepare for the tournament, you are trying to win an “OCC” title.  When you get two games cancelled because of COVID and your field is playable, it is not playable, your opponents’ field isn’t playable, it is hard.  We try and get creative inside with different things and create competition indoors and get a lot of swings and stay sharp.  It is not just physical, it is mental as well.  We have to make sure our guys aren’t mentally drained and get after it every single day and get better,” said Young.

 

Published 5/07/21

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Highland One Step Away

 

          Wyatt Groves Owen Mott combined on a three hitter and Rider Minnick pounded a three run homer and Highland beat Northmor (6-3) Thursday evening in Knox Morrow Athletic Conference action.

          They have lost only once in conference play this season, yet they have to beat Northmor at home on Friday or they may go home with nothing when it comes to the conference title.

          They are tied with Fredericktown, both are (12-1) in conference play.  The Freddies beat Centerburg (14-3) on Thursday and are scheduled to play the Trojans again Friday, weather permitting.

          Highland coach Donnie Kline says they are  pumped to have this opportunity.  “We are very excited with where we are at from the standpoint that we are still in the league hunt with a game to play.  It has kind of got that tournament feel.  If you win you are in and you lose you are out.  Ever since the split with Fredericktown that has been our season.  Every game has been life or death for us.  Hopefully that makes us a stronger team as we head for the tournament run.  It’s one game to hang a banner or say, hey, we were very close,” said Kline.

          Northmor (14-7,7-6) has played some excellent baseball this year too.

          Kline says the Golden Knights are going to make it tough on them.  “I think Northmor is one of the more underrated teams in our area.  I think they are well coached.  Buck Workman does a fantastic jog over there.  He is an experienced guy.  They have some pieces, they really do.  The young man that threw against us (Thursday) night, the freshmen, Grant Bentley, did a fantastic job, kind of kept us off balance for a while,” he told Swankosports.com after the win on Thursday, “We were able to get a couple of guys on and get one over the fence.  Rider Minnick hit a home run to put us up by three.  It wasn’t over until the very last out as they had a chance to tie it up at the very end.  (Thursday) was the easy one, (Friday) is the hard one.”

          Northmor certainly put a scare into the Scots on Thursday.  Coach Buck Workman says they just made a few too many mistakes.  “Highland is a very good team.  We made a couple of mistakes that good teams exploit,” he said.

          Highland (19-1,12-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, has a great season, but Kline says it all comes down to Friday.  “This what we say all of the time, this is why you play at Highland follows.  If you want to be in blowouts and in games that don’t matter there are a lot of programs around where that can happen.  At Highland we are very blessed that these games matter.  We usually see a team’s best pitching and we get team’s best shot.  We are excited by that, we like that at Highland.  It has been a fun run, but (Friday) is why you put in the winter workouts, all of the weights.  Everything comes down to one game and we wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Kline.

 

Published 5/07/21

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Clear Fork Stays Close

 

          Jared Scott threw a one-hitter and Clear Fork kept its Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title hopes alive with a (7-0) shutout of the Marion Harding Presidents on Wednesday at American Legion Field in Bellville.

          The win keeps the Colts (9-8,5-3) a game behind Shelby and Ontario in the conference race.  Shelby hammered River Valley (13-4) on Wednesday.  Ontario’s game with Marion Pleasant was postponed.  The Colts play Shelby in a home and home “MOAC” series next week.  They also have a game with Ontario that needs to be finished.  The two teams were tied (10-10) going to the top of the 12th inning last Friday when darkness came.

          It has not been the greatest season for Harding (7-11,2-7) this season.  They are in last place in the conference.

          Clear Fork coach Joe Staab says they had to have focus for the game on Wednesday.  “We can’t take anybody lightly, especially if we are going to try and make a run at the conference here late in the season.  We have to play our best no matter who is in the other dugout.  Our boys did pretty well (Wednesday).  We did well in all angles of the game.  We just have to come out and do the same job (Thursday),” he said.

          The Colts put up four in the bottom of the second inning.  Brock Talbot doubled off the rightfield fence to lead off the inning.  Aaron Brown was hit by a pitch and Kaden Riddle ripped a single down the leftfield line to score Talbot.  A series of wild pitches, passed balls, a walk, and two errors led to two more runs for the Colts.  Luke Schlosser ended the scoring in the second with an RBI ground ball, scoring Nate Lind.

          Clear Fork plated three more in the fourth, which was more than enough for Scott, on RBI singles by Kaleb Hollar and David Ballinger and a sacrifice fly by Talbot.

          Staab says Scott came out, took the mound, and was on point from the first pitch on.  “Jared has been really good for us.  At the beginning the year, we had him coming out of the bullpen in a lot of crappy situations.  We just kind of gave him the ball at the beginning of the game and run with it.  He has been doing very well for us, especially during our conference series,” he said.

          At times Clear Fork has been sloppy the field, eight errors last week against Ontario comes to mind, but Wednesday they made only one and Staab says that was key.  “We did a good job playing behind good pitching and that is one thing that is going to help keep his pitch count down and allow him to go deep into the game and go seven innings if we are playing good defense behind and not kicking around the baseball,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I think we made one error (Wednesday), which is better than we have been doing.  We just have to continue to play good defense behind good pitching and manufacture runs.”

          Clear Fork takes to the road to play at Harding on Thursday.  Staab says again they must have focus on the task at hand.  “It is one game at a time.  That’s what it has to be the rest of the year.  We are trying to focus on what are we going to bring and be playing our best baseball for the next two weeks, especially going into the tournament.  We have our seeding and our draw this weekend, so hopefully we can go into the tournament playing our best baseball.  For us, our focus has to be one game at a time,” said Staab.

 

Published 5/06/21

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St. Paul Earns Big Win Over South Central

 

          Norwalk St. Paul maintained a share of first place in the Firelands Conference by beating South Central (4-3) on the road on Wednesday evening.

          The win keeps them in a share of first place with Plymouth, who’s game with Mapleton was cancelled due to a wet field.  They play the Big Red twice next week in a pair of crucial games.  South Central (10-9,8-4) is now eliminated from the race.

          Coach Aaron Fries says it was very important for them to get back on the winning track after losing (10-4) to the Trojans on Tuesday.  “It was easily our biggest game of the year.  We felt we needed to comeback and have a solid game (Wednesday).  We had our best pitcher on the mound and we really needed to get (Wednesday) to set us up for next week and give ourselves the best chance to win a conference championship and we were able to do that.  It wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but we scored one more run that they did and that is all that matters,” said Fries.

          Scotty Adelman was a big factor on Wednesday on the mound, the batter’s box and on the bases.  He went all seven innings and permitted two earned runs on six hits, striking out 11, while walking four.

          He also got the offense started in the top of the first off South Central starter Shane Vanderpool when he walked, stole second and third and scored on a groundout by Eli Fisher.

          Fries says Adelman is an ignitor for them.  “Anytime we have him on the mound we definitely want to get those runs early.  They walked him right off the bat, he stole second and stole third and we were able to get him in.  That is the kind of way we play when he is on the mound specifically.  We are looking to scratch runs by anyway possible,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Anytime we get that leadoff runner on it is just huge for us.  We were able to take advantage of that.  We left a few guys on base, which was a little disappointing, but at the end of the day we got enough guys in position and did enough work to get four runs in and that’s what we needed to win.”

          In the second inning, the Flyers scored when Thomas Bocock was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on wild pitch.  In the third, Bocock doubled, stole third and scored on a single by Kaden Maxwell.

          Stolen bases were involved in first three Flyer runs and Fries says they like to be aggressive.  “We run a lot.  We have probably have close to 110, 115 stolen bases on the year.  As a group, we run quite a bit.  (Adleman) is our leader.  He had three or four (Wednesday), so he is about 45 for the season.  So, that is the way we play, we are aggressive on the basepaths and want to make things happen that way.  Anytime (Adleman) gets on base we are looking to move him,” he said.

          With the tying run at third in the bottom of the seventh, Adelman got Blaine Wheeler to ground out to end the game.

          The Flyers (17-5,11-1) made five errors in their loss to South Central on Tuesday.  Fries says they got back to normal on Wednesday.  “It was much better.  We had a few missed played and obviously that is going to happen.  We made one error (Wednesday) and we made the plays we needed to make in big situations.  We were going into (Tuesday) night fielding the ball at 96 percent, we are a very good defensive team, and for us to have five errors and one ball that was missed played in the first two innings of the game.  We can go a whole week of game without having five errors and sometimes a couple of weeks.  Obviously, we needed to get back on track and just make sure to play really confident on our fundamentals and make the plays that are in front of us and we did that,” said Fries.

 

Published 5/06/21

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Seneca East Downs Mohawk

 

          Seneca East scored three runs in the fourth inning on only one hit and went onto beat Mohawk (4-2) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Wednesday evening outside of Attica.

          Mohawk (13-8,7-6) took a (1-0) lead on an RBI hit by Trey Combs in the top of the third, but The Tigers would respond with three in the bottom of fourth.  Pitcher Turner Bridgford would double and score on a sacrifice fly Shayne Walker.  Mohawk pitcher Nathan Geary would hit a batter and walk three resulting in three runs and (3-1) Seneca East lead.  The Tigers would tack on another run in the sixth on error.  Mohawk scored a single tally in the seventh.

          Seneca East (11-8,9-4) coach Rick Bowerman says were able to take advantage of their chances to score.  “Mohawk had a 1-zip lead.  We didn’t have a lot of hits (Wednesday).  We had one hit, a double by Turner Bridgford, but we made the most of our opportunities.  Mohawk’s pitcher struggled a little bit.  We scored on a SAC fly after Turner Bridgford had doubled and advanced to third on a passed ball.  Our hitters did a great job of being patient and not swinging at bad pitches and their pitcher started struggling a little bit and we were able to capitalize on that,” said Bowerman.

          Bridgford went all seven for the Tigers and allowed only three hits and no earned runs.

          Bowerman says he was excellent.  “He pitched very well, nine strikeouts and I think only three hits and two walks.  He was pretty much in command of what he was doing.  Anytime he got in trouble, he was able to step back, take a deep breath and work out of that trouble,” he said.

          Seneca East had not played since last Friday, but Bowerman feels they had pretty good focus in the game against Mohawk.  “Game reps are a lot different than practice reps.  You want to get out there and you want to face pitching and see your hitters get at bats and get comfort and when you are missing a couple days it takes a while.  We hit the ball hard a couple of times (Wednesday), but didn’t get base hits,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday after the win, “I thought our focus was there and we did a nice job after being off for a while and coming back and focusing and doing what we had to do.  We had a based loaded walk, sophomore Cooper Skeel got down in the count 1-2 and fouled off about four or five and then worked the walk for an RBI.  Things like that a coach loves to see.”

 

Published 5/06/21

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Buckeye Central Shuts Out Carey

 

          Kaiden Vaughn fired a four hitter on Wednesday in out dueling Carey’s Jordan Vallejo as Buckeye Central beat the Blue Devils (1-0) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game.

          Vaughn struck out seven and walked three.

          Coach Chad Jensen says he got stronger as the game went on.  “Kaiden pitched a great game.  He scattered four hits, struck out seven, we played great defense behind him.  He had some jams and we got out of them.  It was a really, really good team effort.  Their kids pitched really well too.  We were able to get a key hit from Elliot Geissman in the fourth to score a run.  Kaiden just got stronger as the game went on.  He got stronger and really started pounding the zone and just did a great job.  Another close game for us.  We have had a lot of them and we were able to come out on top,” said Jensen.

          The Bucks (8-15,7-6) only had four hits themselves, but got the big one from Elliot Geissman.  They only had one error.

          Jensen says this team has to be fundamentally strong if they are going to win games.  “We talk to our kids a lot and we talked about it again (Wednesday).  We have to stay strong on our fundamentals.  All of those ground balls we take in practice, all of those fly balls we take in practice, I know it’s boring, and it is the same thing, but this is how you win 1-0 ballgames,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “How you win one run ball games is being fundamentally sound, making the routine play.  We did that again (Wednesday).  We have played good defense all year.  We continue to put the ball in play.  Kade pitched a great game and got ahead and pitched a great game.”

          The tournament draw for baseball teams across Ohio is Sunday and Jensen believes they have the ability to do some damage later this month, especially with their pitching.  “We started out the season 0-9 and we are 8-6 since.  We are 7-6 in the “N10”, which is a tough league.  Almost half of our games are against D2 and D3 teams, so I think we are playing well.  We still need to continue to get better each game, but our pitching keeps us in games and our kids are playing with confidence.  We will take it one game at a time and see where it takes us,” he said.

 

Published 5/06/21

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Bellevue Beats Norwalk

 

          Bellevue hung a tough loss on the Norwalk Truckers (5-1) on Wednesday in play in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          The result eliminated the Truckers from the division race and gave the outright title to the Vermilion Sailors.

          Bellevue coach Andy Dennings says it was one of their biggest wins of the season.  “We needed one of these.  We have been playing better the last week or two and playing much cleaner baseball.  Norwalk has been playing extremely well.  It is always a really nice program over there.  We are really happy with the win,” said Dennings.

          Bellevue (8-11,4-6) has played its best baseball over the last couple of weeks.  They also beat Perkins the last time they played them.

          Dennings says they got a nice effort on the mound.  “Adam Hosang threw a two hitter.  He threw the ball extremely well.  We needed that.  He is one of our top couple of guys and he really came out an performed extremely well,” he said.

          One of the keys to their improved play, according to Dennings, is the are making the fundamental plays that where weren’t make earlier.  “That has been an issue at points this year.  Early in the year we had problems fielding the baseball.  We have made way more errors than we are typically used to.  To compound that we were waking a lot of kids and had a lot of HBP’s,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We are starting to get things figured out here.  Our pitching has always been competitive.  Just playing cleaner baseball.  Run the bases better, field the ball better, just making smarter decisions.  Now, we are starting to put some things together.”

 

Published 5/06/21

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Ontario the Right Job for Mergel

 

          Ontario has a new head boys’ basketball coach for the first time in more than 30 years.  It’s Tim Mergel, who leaves Madison, his alma matter, to take the job with the Warriors.

          Hall of Famer Joe Balogh retired after this past season after 36 years on the sidelines.  He won 598 games.

          Mergel says this is a job that you always think about.  “You look at Ontario and you are always an admirer from the outside looking in from an athletic standpoint when It comes to basketball.  When it comes open you kind of look at it like it hasn’t been open in 30 some years.  What if it is not open for 30 more years?  That is a big decision to make.  I am not getting any younger and I can’t wait 30 more years.  I thought now was as good a time as any to apply for it and see what my chances were,” he said.

          With the kind of success that Ontario has had the kids in the program have been prepared of what they need to do to be successful.

          Mergel says he must continue to challenge the players.  “A thing I like to stress to our teams is when you are comfortable is when you get complacent.  When you are comfortable is when your mind is in neutral, so we want to continue to challenge the kids and just grow and build on that foundation that Joe (Balogh) has been so successful at and keep on Ontario in that same tradition and carry on that legacy.  It’s a challenge.  Is it a positive that things are set? Absolutely, but it’s a challenge one to follow in Joe’s steps, but also not to be complacent and continue to challenge these kids,” Mergel told Swankonsports.com last Friday in an interview that first aired on our “Out of Bounds” program.

          He says Balogh has been very helpful and answered all of his questions about the program.

          Mergel had been the head coach at Madison for nine seasons (79-129) and had played for the Rams as well.

          He says leaving there wasn’t easy in any way, but it was the right thing for him.  “It is one that weighed on me, but this is an opportunity for me and my family that I can grow professionally.  At Madison, I have developed such good relationships.  Such long lasting relationships, that nothing I think is going to be damaged.  They are life long relationships.  I am always going to be a Ram.  I graduated from there.  But, now I am going to bleed some blue and gold.  Was it tough?  Yes, but when you weigh the pros versus the cons, I had a lot of conversations with my wife and we thought that this was a good opportunity to take advantage of,” said Mergel.

 

Published 5/05/21

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South Central Stays Alive

 

          South Central scored eight times in the first two innings and handed Norwalk St. Paul their first Firelands Conference loss (10-4) on Tuesday to close within two games of Flyers in the conference title race.

          Each team has three conference games remaining.

          Plymouth shares first in the conference with St. Paul.  Each has one loss in Firelands Conference play.

          David Lamoreaux had a two run single and another Trojans run scored on a ground ball for a (3-0) in the top the first.  The added five more in the second.  Sam Seidel walked, stole second and scored on a single by Karl Ferber.  Carson Music and Blaine Wheeler singled, scoring Ferber.  Two more scored on an outfield error and Kayden Hauler plated the final run of the inning on a single.  It was (8-0) Trojans.

          “The kids really came out to play.  It was just the second time this year that we didn’t make an error in the field.  Karl Ferber was fantastic on the mound.  We hit the ball we put the pressure on them.  We got up on them early and just kept the pressure on them,” said South Central coach Mike Perry.

          St. Paul would load the bases in the second and third, but score only two runs and Ferber got out of jams.  He allowed four runs on nine hits and struck out three in going all seven to get the win.

          Perry thought the start to the game was key.  “I think that kind of let the kids know.  I told them before the game there are games you want to win, there are games you hope to win, but I said this is a game that I expect to win because this is out fourth win in a row, we are playing very good baseball.  Don’t get more wrong, St. Paul is a fantastic team, well coached.  They made some uncharacteristic mistakes (Tuesday) night.  We knew our backs were against the wall and I expected to go out there and play well and the boys responded,” said Perry.

          St. Paul coach Aaron Fries says they made too many errors and didn’t take advantage of their chance to score.  “The difference in game came down to defense.  We did not make the plays when the opportunities presented themselves and conversely South Central made great defensive plays when we were threatening,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “We had five errors in the game and a few other plays there were not errors, but could have been made.  South Central beat us at our own game, pitching and defense.  Give South Central a lot of credit, they handled tough playing conditions well.  They played championship baseball.”

          It was a wet day in which a lot of games were cancelled.  Perry says Ferber was able to maintain his focus.  “I think it was the third inning and he kind of struggled a little bit because the ball was wet and I kept saying throw strikes, throw strikes.  He came out after and said, coach, you don’t have to tell me that, I know what to do.  I didn’t say anything to him the rest of the game he is just a fun kid.  He has a lot of confidence and a lot of ability,” said Perry.

          South Central (10-8,8-3) is scheduled to play at home against St. Paul (16-5,10-1) on Wednesday and Perry says that game is just as important.  “We are going to see (Scotty) Adelman.  He’s a great pitcher.  We know we have our work cut out for us, but we want to be that team that plays well at the end of the season and that’s what we are doing we are playing well and giving ourselves a chance at the conference and looking forward towards the tournament.  I like where we are sitting right now,” he said.

 

Published 5/05/21

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Mohawk Downs Lakota

 

          Mohawk scored three times in the third inning and went on to beat Kansas Lakota (5-1) in a non-conference baseball game on Tuesday evening.

          It was the Warriors (13-7) sixth straight win.

          Coach Eric Hoover says they did job of managing the game.  “We played a pretty efficient game (Tuesday) night.  We really wanted to get a game in.  We didn’t get to play (Monday) and not sure about (Wednesday).  I feel like we are getting a little momentum and a good rhythm.  Our field was in good shape, so we got a game in and really made a lot of defensive plays.  Our pitcher threw a lot of strikes and did a great job pitching to contact and we made a lot of good plays behind him,” he said.

          Landen Snyder singled to open the bottom of the first and scored on a sacrifice fly by Blake Harper.  In the third Tyler Hayman doubled and Terry Combs walked and they both scored on an a two-run double by Nathan Gerry, he later scored on an error.  Another run scored on an error in the sixth.

          There were not many games played on Tuesday, but Hoover felt it was important for them to get on the field if possible.  “We really want to stay sharp.  There is only so much you can do.  We end up practicing inside if we get cancelled.  We just had an inside practice (Monday).  The kids, after we have played 20 games, they don’t want to go back inside and have a practice,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “It’s hard to get them motivated to do much.  It is great to keep playing games and stay in that rhythm.  I think that is more beneficial than anything you are going to get out of practice.”

          Junior Reese Hannam started and went the distance for the Warriors, permitting a run on four hits, striking out seven.

          Hoover says they also made some good plays behind him.  “He has not got to pitch as much this year.  We have a good number of seniors that pitch also.  We have been throwing five different guys, so we have a deep rotation.  He pitched really well.  He only walked a couple.  He let them put the ball in play a little more.  He was always around the plate.  He had a good off speed, so he did a really good job of keeping them off balance and letting our defense work,” said Hoover.

 

Published 5/05/21

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Shelby Has done its Part… So Far

 

          Shelby has moved into a share of first place with Ontario in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference standings, a game in front of Clear Fork.

          The Whippets (14-2,6-2), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, have won six straight conference games after losing their first two to Ontario by one run each in extra innings.  They play river Valley (7-9,3-5) Tuesday and Wednesday, weather permitting, and Clear Fork next week.

          Coach Jon Amicone says they knew what their assignment was going to be and they have embraced it.  “Our guys have one a really nice job accepting the challenge.  Walking an uphill climb that we did to ourselves.  We are really proud of our guy’s efforts so far.  They didn’t bat an eye.  We made our bed, but we didn’t sleep in it.  Our guys did a nice job responding to that.  We still have four more games to go.  We have to approach every single game like it is do or die because at this point to accomplish the goals we want it really is,” he said.

          When it comes to winning the title, Amicone says it has been kind of like the tournament, they knew they had to run the table.  “That is kind of what we have preached to our guys.  Our guys have done a really nice job of responding to that.  We had it very clear to them after the games with Ontario that to accomplish our first goal we are going to have to play a perfect season within the league,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Our guys have to come up to the challenge and have strung six wins together, but we have two more teams to play that are extremely talented and we will need to catch a few breaks here and there.  Our guys have done a really nice job accepting this tough challenge.”

          Shelby has gotten excellent pitching this season Marshall Shepherd, Blaine Bowman and Alex Brushkotter are all in the top five in the conference in ERA when stats were last reported last week.

          Amicone says his guys have given the team a chance to win.  “Marshall Shepherd and Logan Green and the guys on our pitching staff have done an excellent job giving us a chance to win.  Ultimately pitching is the name of game, especially in high school baseball.  Those guys have done a really nice job and we have really good relief pitching, guys like Jackson Moore, Lanny Kennard, and Alex Brushkotter.  We kind of lean on those guys.  Hitting comes and goes, but as long as you have that good pitching it is going to keep you in every single game,” said Amicone.

 

Published 5/04/21

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Tygers Getting Closer

 

          Mansfield Senior has won three baseball games this year and more than that has become more competitive than they have in a the last several years.

          Now, the goal is to take the next step.

          Coach J.R. Davis, in his first year, says hey are more competitive and now they have to start winning more games.  “Competitive wise, yes, I have been pleased.  It is great to hear because I feel like every game we have played coaches have come up, and even umpires, and say how different of a product we are putting out on the field.  I feel really good about it, but then again at the end of the day I am very competitive and I want to win,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It is nice hearing that stuff, but I want to win.  We are very close.  We have had close calls with Lexington and Madison and Marion Harding and Crestline.  All of these games are close and competitive, but I want to win now.  We are competitive, now I just want to win.”

          Davis says it is an attitude.  “That is the toughest thing.  Growing up in the program I understand, Senior High baseball is not known for being good at all.  You are probably used to getting beat by 10, 15, if not 20 runs.  The losing mentality is one we just have to change is one we just have to change right now.  We are in ballgames now and we have to find ways to win rather than go back to our old ways,” he said.

          Now, Mansfield Senior over the last week has been on a forced vacation due to a positive COVID test.  They hope to return to action Wednesday against Ashland in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

          Davis says that isn’t what they needed at this time.  “Baseball is one of those sports where you have to play everyday and practice every day.  The toughest thing right now it happened on Wednesday when we were notified and everything, so we have been off since Wednesday.  Luckily, our JV team is still going, so I still help out with that and build for next year.  Varsity wise in a week or so we are going to be in the tournament.  We need that practicing and games to keep that momentum and keep going forward,” said Davis.

 

Published 5/04/21

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Softball Seeds Determined

 

          The high school softball tournament begins next week and the matchups were determined on Sunday, except the Central District.

          It is not quite the political process that it once was with no face to face meetings, but there are still bound to be teams that are happy with what happened and those who are not.

          In division I, Ashland, of the Ohio Cardinal Conference ended up as the fifth seed in the Northwest District and will play at home on Wednesday, May 12, against Toledo Notre Dame Academy.

          Wooster, also of the “OCC” is the 15th seed and plays at Rocky River Magnificat on Monday, May 10, that’s the Northeast District.

          In division II, in the Willard district, Lexington, also of the “OCC”, is the top seed, followed by Bellevue, Clear Fork, and Ontario with seeds two, three and four.

          In the upper bracket, Ontario and Galion play on Tuesday, May 11 with the winner playing at Lexington on Friday, May 14.

          Madison will host Mansfield Senior, a team they have beaten twice this season, in a sectional final on the 14th.

          In the lower bracket, Shelby hosts Vermilion May 11 and the winner goes to Bellevue on May 14.

          Also, Norwalk plays at Tiffin Columbian om the 11th and the winner makes the trip to Clear Fork, the leader of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, on the 14th.

          There are also a number of schools covered by Swankonsports.com that are part of the division II bracket in Genoa.  Oak Harbor is the top seed and will play May 14 against either Toledo Rogers or Rossford.  Perkins plays at Maumee on May 11 and if they win will play at Wauseon on the 14th.  Clyde, the number 3, seed, hosts Port Clinton in a sectional final on May 14.

          Wooster Triway, the leader in the Principal’s Athletic Conference, will play Thursday, May 13, against either Woodridge or Orange in the Northeast district.

          West Holmes, part of the East District, will play May 12 at Dover.

          In division III, in the New Riegel district, Huron, of the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division, is the top seed, number two is Edison, number three Colonel Crawford and number four Crestview.

          In the upper bracket, Willard and Wynford meet May 11 for the right to play at Huron on the May 14 and Margaretta hosts Western Reserve on the 11th and they play at Crestview the 14th.

          Meanwhile, in the lower bracket, Carey plays at Bucyrus on the 11th with Edison getting the winner on the 14th and the other semi on May 11 has Kansas Lakota at Upper Sandusky with the winner playing at Crawford on May 14.

          Over in the Northeast District, in the Norwayne district, Orrville plays at Mapleton on May 11 with winner visiting Tuslaw on May 13 and Cleveland Campus International playing at Manchester in the semi on the 11th and Elyria Catholic getting the winner on the 13th in upper bracket games.

          In the lower bracket, Cleveland Villa Angela St. Joseph plays Brooklyn May 11 with the winner going to Norwayne on the 13th and Fairless is at Garfield Heights Trinity on the 11th and the winner will travel to Black River.

          Meanwhile, in another division III district in Wellington, Chippewa plays at Lutheran West in an upper bracket semifinal on May 11 and the winner plays at Independence on May 13.  Waynedale plays at Northwestern in a sectional final at played on the 13th.

          The lower bracket has two semis, both May 11, and feature Oberlin at Rittman, Wellington gets the winner on the 13th, and Smithville at Wickliffe, with winner playing Brookside, also on the 13th.

          In division IV, in the Shelby district, Monroeville is the top seed, followed by Mohawk, Plymouth and Norwalk St. Paul in seeds two through four.

          In the upper bracket, New London is at Vanlue on May 10, with the winner paying a visit to Monroeville on May 13 and Buckeye Central is at Crestline on the 10th with winner traveling to Plymouth on the 13th.

          On the other side, Mansfield St. Peter’s plays at South Central on the 10th and will get to play at Mohawk the 13th, meanwhile, Seneca East is at Lucas on May 10 and winner is at Norwalk St. Paul on the May 13.

          Up at Oak Harbor, New Riegel in the top seed, Hopewell-Loudon number two, Gibsonburg number three and Tiffin Calvert number four, all from the River Division of the “SBC.”

          In the upper half of the that bracket there is only one bye and it goes to New Riegel, who plays either Cardinal Stritch or Sandusky St. Mary’s on May 13.  Ottawa Hills is at Calvert and Fremont St. Joe at Old Fort on the 10th with the winners then meeting on the 13th.

          In the lower bracket, Danbury Lakeside hosts Emmanuel Christian on May 10 with the winner traveling to Hopewell-Loudon on May 13 and Toledo Christian playing at Arcadia on the 10th with the winner getting a date with Gibsonburg on the 13th.

          In the Richfield district in the Northeast Loudonville, the four seed, will play either Kidron Central Christian or Columbia on May 12 and Hillsdale, also on the 12th, plays either Canton Central Catholic or Dalton.

 

Published 5/03/21

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Ontario Still Developing its Pitching

 

          Right now, there is a logjam at the top of the baseball standings in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference as Ontario and Shelby have two losses, Clear Fork three and Pleasant and Galion four.

          The Warriors fell out of sole possession of first place with a (10-5) loss to Galion on Tuesday.  Their game with the Tigers on Wednesday was postponed.  They are scheduled to play at Clear Fork, weather permitting, on Friday.

          Coach Jeff Fisher says you have to be ready to compete every night in this conference and it begins with pitching.  “If you can go out there and form out a great pitching outing you have a great chance of winning.  Unfortunately for us Tuesday night, (Brody) Symsick of Galion didn’t walk a batter and didn’t give us much wiggle room.  When we did get ducks on the pound, we did squeeze out some runs.  It is one of those things that every night you have to be ready to play and play well,” he said.

          Fisher says they are still in the process of developing their pitching staff.  He says they have some good nights and some not so good.  “We are happy that our guys are willing to take the ball and go out there and compete, but on any given night it can be a roller coaster ride, they are off or they are on.  We feel like we are just inexperienced,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We look back over the years when Ontario was healthy they had a pair and spare.  When you don’t at the high school level you are a kind of in the development mode.  When you are in that mode, you still want to keep the eye on the prize and compete to win and win championships.  You want to make sure there is a healthy balance.”

          Especially, with the rules in place in baseball in Ohio regarding pitch counts, Fisher says you have to have a lot of pitchers.  He says they are working toward that goal, but haven’t gotten there yet.  “I think the pitch count dynamic has really fostered the need to develop even here at a division II school with a 27 game schedule in basically a span of six, seven weeks you really need guys that might not see themselves as traditional pitchers to get up there and eat up innings and get outs.  We as a program would like to get to a place where we have a guy that can strikeout 10.  The guy that is coming in the next day is going to strikeout seven, a one and two and go from there, but we don’t yet,” said Fisher.

 

Published 4/30/21

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Seneca East Coming Along

 

          Seneca East has won six of its last nine games, and two of those losses are to unbeaten Colonel Crawford, and it looks like the Tigers are becoming a pretty good baseball team.

          They beat Upper Sandusky (5-2) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Wednesday.

          Coach Rick Bowerman says they were very young and inexperienced at the beginning of the season, but they have found some form and he likes what he sees.  “I have especially lately.  I think we are really starting to mature.  We start three sophomores, two freshmen.  Right now, I only have two players that have any varsity experience at all.  I’m sure that is like a lot of other teams.  In the last week or two you see these guys really starting to become varsity baseball players,” he said.

          Bowerman says you can practice things, but kids need to experience it in the pressure of a game.  “It is one thing to practice it and go over it in a controlled situation or even a live situation in practice.  It is quite different when you get out in a game.  The pressure is on.  The speed of the game for them is so much faster than what they were used to when they were younger.  So, it takes that experience.  It takes things to happen once or twice before things really start to click,” said Bowerman.

          Seneca East (10-7,8-3) will play Upper again on Friday, weather permitting.

          The Tigers have been known for their pitching over the years and Bowerman says they have some kids that are rounding into shape.  “At the start of the year I wasn’t sure.  I had two seniors and one senior was out 10 days with COVID and it took a while for him to come back.  I have a couple of sophomore pitchers that have been throwing really well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Our senior pitcher has really stepped up and threw a really good game against Colonel Crawford on Monday in a tough luck loss.  My senior with COVID is coming back and he is throwing well.  A couple of freshmen have had some spot innings here and there. So, I really like my depth right now.”

 

Published 4/30/21

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Crestview Finding What it Can do

 

          Crestview has won four of its last five game and the Cougars are starting to find their grove a little bit.

          They lit up Monroeville (22-3) and (20-3) in Firelands Conference games this week and will play New London in conference games on Monday and Tuesday.

          Coach Don Keener says he and the kids have kind of had to get used to each other this spring.  “I think we are making some progress.  I think over the last week or so guys are starting to figure out what their roles are.  Us as coaches, it took us some time to figure out where we wanted to plug kids in at position wise in the lineup, hitting wise, and so on and so forth,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “A lot of years you get that figured out sooner, but unfortunately it took us a little bit.  We thought we had an idea of what kids could do, but you still had to see that in the games to see what kids could and couldn’t do.”

          Crestview (8-10,4-6) has won three of its last four conference games.

          The Cougars did not have much experience going into this season, related a lot to not having a season last year, and Keener says they have had to do a lot of teaching.  “I was thinking about this.  It is kind of one of those years where the year before you had seven or eight seniors that were just really dominate for you and then you have to replace all of those kids.  It is the same situation.  We had nothing and we were pretty much starting from scratch.  The kids are adjusting well and it has taken us coaches some time to adjust with some of these kids,” said Keener.

          Right now, Norwalk St. Paul has a one game lead in the conference standings over Plymouth.  Keener says they have had an advantage because they have two outstanding pitchers that has experience.  “Their one and two are good.  We took their one to the brink there, they beat us 5-3, but those kids are really good pitchers.  Every night you have to go out and be ready to play.  Anybody can knock anybody off,” he said.

 

Published 4/30/21

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Mt. Vernon Beats West Holmes This Time

 

          Mt. Vernon stayed alive in the Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball race with a convincing (14-4) thumping of West Holmes on Wednesday evening on the road outside Millersburg.

          They had lost to the same Knights (4-2) on Tuesday.  Both schools trail “OCC” leader Wooster by two games in the loss column.  The Generals game with Mansfield Senior was cancelled on Wednesday due to health issues.  The Yellow Jackets only have two “OCC” games left and those are against Lexington in two weeks.

          Coach Nate Hunt says they had to bounce back and they did in no uncertain terms on Wednesday.  “Last week we had talked that you need to bounce back after the Wooster game.  I don’t think we were down that low.  The thing about the West Holmes game the first time around was we beat ourselves a lot of that game.  We told the guys the crazy thing about this “OCC” was you can’t harp on this one.  It is not like football where you have got to wait a week to compete again, you are right back into the battle.  Our guys responded really well (Wednesday),” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Just executing and doing all of the things right.  Caden Rowland, who is a sophomore, (Wednesday) was his fifth start, and now is 5-0.  So, it was just really good to see the guys bounce back.  I told them they had 24 hours to think about it, but as soon as the first pitch goes (Tuesday) is over and (Wednesday) is (Wednesday).  So, they did a nice job of battling back.”

          Rowland is not the youngster to play some good baseball for the Jackets (12-4,8-3) this season.  Hunt says they have had a lot of kids playing high school baseball for the first time that are contributing.  “We have two freshmen and about three or four sophomores, who are helping us win ballgames between Caden, who is a sophomore, and Logan Trace, who has caught even inning except three this year, him being a sophomore as well.  Those guys are competitors and they do a nice job for us,” he said.

          In getting the 14 runs on Wednesday, Hunt says they took advantage of situations.  “We had timely hitting.  We have been trying to find a leadoff guy.  Actually, we have tried six different options.  I think we are finally penciling on Jonny Askew, a freshman, who had two big hits (Wednesday) and our seniors being seniors and finally kind of settling down and not putting too much pressure on themselves.  They walked, I think, eight guys and we capitalized on that, which was big, because the one thing I know about West Holmes, and you can even look back to their Wooster score, it is never over until it is officially over.  They do all of the little things right and they are just a fundamentally sound team.  So, again just a great win for us,” said Hunt.

 

Published 4/29/21

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Highland Goes to Danville and Wins

 

          Cooper Merckling and Owen Mott combined on a no hitter on Wednesday as the Highland Scots handled Danville (9-1) in a Knox Morrow Athletic Conference game.

          The win kept Highland (16-1,10-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, in a share of first place in the conference with Fredericktown, who beat Norrthmor (2-1) on Wednesday.

          Coach Donnie Kline says they took the bus to Danville and did what they had to do.  “I think anytime you go on the road in a conference game and you come home with a win, that’s a good night.  We had two pitchers combined for a no hitter. Cooper Merckling, a junior, and Owen Mott, a senior, they did a really nice job kind of keeping Danville off the bases for the most part.  We got some timely hitting and scored some runs late to kind of pull away,” he said.

          Highland did not score in the first three innings, but would score at least one in each of the final four.

          Merckling went the first four and two thirds innings, striking out nine, while Mott finished up striking out five over the final two and a third innings.

          Kline says it was kind one of those situations where you didn’t even realize what was happening.  “The boys have been pretty effective and credit to pitching coach Andrew Westbrook, he has done a really nice job just setting the guys up and put them in good position to have success.  It was one of those situations where the boys just keep pitching well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We didn’t even realize it until it was late.  It wasn’t one of those ones where everybody has to count down and crewing our fingernails.  It was like after the game, hey, there was a no hitter there.  It was just a fun game overall, the boys played well, and got a couple of big hits late.”

          Highland got 13 hits in the game, including a home run from Zach Pinkerton, who had five RBI on the day.

          Kline says it wasn’t their best effort, but it was still pretty good.  “That is one of the challenges of high school baseball.  Danville is not having the best season, but they are a well coached team, they are good guys over there, and at the end of the day they are high school athletes.  They are going to give us their best.  For our guys they have to understand regardless of who is on the schedule they have got to bring their “A” game.  (Wednesday) was probably our B+ game, it wasn’t our “A” game, but the boys found a way to win.  A couple of long balls late and pulled away,” said Kline.

 

Published 4/29/21

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South Central Holds Off Western

 

          South Central took the lead with a four spot in the fourth inning and went on to get past Western Reserve (7-6) in a Firelands Conference baseball game on Wednesday evening.

          They stay three games behind conference leading Norwalk St. Paul, who beat Mapleton (4-3) on Wednesday.  The Trojans (9-8,7-3) play St. Paul next week in what are going to be two crucial conference games and then end the conference schedule against last place Monroeville.

          Coach Mike Perry says his team got a couple of big hits from unexpected sources on Wednesday.  “We had a really big hit from our freshman second baseman Eric Sanders and another big hit by Jackson McCormack, a senior who struggled at first, but he has really, really come on strong lately.  It was a couple of really good at bats by those kids and we were able to push a couple of runs across,” said Perry.

          Perry adds when you get big plays like that it gets the team fired up.  “It pumps the whole team up and everyone gets behind them.  They are the kind of kids that everybody roots for.  We have a pretty tight team and it’s nice to see them pull for each other,” he said.

          McCormack and Carson Music both had two hits for the Trojans on Wednesday.  Sam Seidel had a triple, he leads the conference in that offensive category, and an RBI and Karl Ferber added a double and an RBI.

          Blane Wheeler got the start for the Trojans and set six innings to get the win, allowing five runs on five hits, walking four and fanning six.  Sanders pitched the seventh to get the save, allowing an unearned run.

          The postseason tournament begins in just over two weeks and Perry believes they can make some noise this year in division IV.  “At the beginning of the season we were so top heavy with our lineup.  Now we are getting contributions one through nine.  If we can keep that going, we will be in really, really good shape when the tournament rolls around,” Perry told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night.

 

Published 4/29/21

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Fredericktown Gets What it Needs

 

          Fredericktown got a run scoring hit in the bottom of the seventh inning and beat Northmor (2-1) to keep pace with Highland in the race in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference.

          Highland beat Danville (9-1) in “KMAC” play on Wednesday.

          Coach Ryan Hathaway says they got a walk off single off the bat of ninth place hitter Evan Rine.  “Evan Rine came up with a hit when we needed it the most (Wednesday) night.  It was good to see him with two strikes on him put the ball in play and get the run in for us,” said Hathaway.

          Hathaway says Rine was able to deliver when it mattered the most.  He says Rine had a really good approach.  “He was down 0-2 in the count and ended up seeing a pitch and fouling a couple off.  Just had a really good at bat.  Just for him to get the ball in play and at least give us a chance.  Seeing him battle like that was great,” he said.

          Fredericktown (16-3,10-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, plays Northmor (14-5,7-4) again on Friday in conference play, this time on the road.

          Pitching was also key Wednesday for the Freddies and Hathaway says Cade Carpenter was more than up to the task.  “Cade Carpenter threw a compete game and gave up three hits and I don’t think he had any walks, a couple of strikeouts, but he just pitched the game we needed (Wednesday) night, especially against a Northmor team that is really strong at the plate.  He got it done with less that 100 pitches and that was big for us,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Wednesday.

 

Published 4/29/21

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Lady Colts With Huge Win

 

          Clear Fork put the hammer down on Tuesday as the Lady Colts beat Marion Pleasant (4-1) to take command in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

          They lead the rest of the pack by two games with five left to play.  They are scheduled to play at Pleasant (10-5,4-2), who shares second place with River Valley, who handed them their first loss in the conference (5-4) on Monday.

          Ashtynn Roberts was a key in the circle and in the batter’s box on Tuesday.

          She picked up her 10th win of the season on the mound, allowing five hits and striking out five.  Plus, got maybe the biggest hit of the game too.

          Coach Jeff Gottfried had a smile on his face when talking about his team’s effort on Tuesday.  “Pleasant is a very, very good team.  They came off a tough loss (Monday) night to River Valley.  We had a tough one ourselves at Northwestern, so it was a matter of who was going to pick it up and play the best.  We were fortunately at home and our kids were comfortable.  You could see when Pleasant walked in, they had their heads down a little bit.  We recognize all of that stuff,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “It is more about us than it is the other team.  It was nice to jump on the board first.  The pitcher and catcher were all over it.  Hallie Gottfried calling and Ashtynn (Roberts) throwing strikes.  It was nice to see, it was a good win.”

          Courtney Palmer got the scoring started for Clear Fork in the third with a solo home run and Lady Colts tacked on another after Hallie Gottfried singled and pinch runner Brooklyn Walker scored on an error to make it (2-0) after three.

          The Lady Colts (12-7,7-0) got two more in the fourth when Roberts drove in Reghan Barker and Palmer with a single through the hole to make it (4-0) Clear Fork after four innings.

          Gottfried says that hit gave them some breathing room and allowed them to relax just a little bit.  “We scored two runs in the fourth, but probably the two bigger runs were later.  That two out hit that put us up four.  You are a whole lot more relaxed when you are up four as opposed to two or one.  I was pleased with our defense.  We had one error, but even on that play we threw the girl out at the plate,” he said.

          Pleasant is solid and they weren’t going to go away.  They got two on in the sixth, but Roberts got out of the jam unscathed.  They scored their only run in the seventh when Olivia Johnson doubled and scored on a ground ball.

          Gottfried says Roberts had good command and kept the Pleasant hitters guessing throughout the game.  “She got into some tough jams late in the ballgame, but that is going to happen when you see a team three times through the order.  I think her most effective pitch (Tuesday) was strike one.  She was ahead in the count most of the time.  When she was able to do that, she was able to mix and hit spots.  The battery worked together well,” said Gottfried.

 

Published 4/28/21

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Clear Fork Beats Pleasant; A Game Back

 

          Clear Fork got itself right back in the race in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference on Tuesday as they scored five times in the fifth inning and went on to drill Marion Pleasant (9-3) at American Legion Field in Bellville.

          The Colts (7-8,3-3) banged out eight hits and got a pair of two run home runs from Brock Talbolt and Jared Scott to move within a game of first place in the standings.  Ontario shares the lead with Shelby after the Warriors lost (10-5) to Galion on Tuesday.  Shelby didn’t play a league game.  Pleasant (9-4,2-3) is also a game back as teams are bunched together at the halfway mark of the season.

          Clear Fork opened the scoring on David Ballinger’s two out RBI single in the third inning to score Scott and Kaleb Hollar.

          Coach Joe Staab says they were able to get some key hits in big situations.  “It was nice for us to find ways to get on base and then capitalize on the other team’s mistakes and be able to advance into scoring position,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “There were a couple of times that we did get the big hit and rallied with two outs.  We got a couple of home runs that got us a couple more runs here and there.  I thought offensively we competed pretty well.”

          Pleasant got on the board in the top of the fifth when Jonathan Curren tripled off the left centerfield fence, as Casey Swank crashed into the fence going full speed, and then scored on a passed ball.

          “We got it to 2-1.  Jonathan Curren, our three hole hitter got a nice one to the fence and got us back in it.  We were right there.  We had Nathon Newell on the mound and we were trying to decide if we were going to leave him in one more inning or not.  That third time around the lineup they go to him pretty good.  All the kids did a heck of a job,” said Pleasant coach Brad Potts.

          The Colts would put up five to take a (7-1) lead.  With one out, Scott singled, stole two bases and Hollar walked.  Ballinger lifted a sacrifice fly to right to score Scott and make it (3-1) Colts.  Talbolt then unloaded a two run homer over the leftfield fence to put Clear Fork up four (5-1) and then two more runs would score on three straight walks and two wild pitches by reliever Peydon Gosnell.

          Pleasant got one back in the top of the sixth on an RBI groundout by Austin Adkins to make it (7-2).

          However, the Colts got two more on Scott’s two run drive in the sixth.

          Staab says they made some solid contact, especially late in the game, but still they need a better approach at the plate.  “It was a little warmer.  The wind was pushing to leftfield.  I thought early in the game we had too many pop ups, too many weak pop ups.  A couple of the balls we hit solid were carrying really, really well.  If we are able to get on top of the ball a little bit and hit line drives and let the elements take care of themselves, we will be better off,” said Staab.

          Lefty Luke Schlosser started and went six innings for the Colts, giving up two runs, one earned, on four hits.  He walked just two and fanned seven.

          Staab says he looked strong.  “Luke pitched really well.  For him to come in in this game he has been a guy that hasn’t got the most starts, but he has got a lot of appearances coming in late in the game, coming in in tough situations, whether it is based loaded, guys on base or just late in the game, it gave him the opportunity to go out and get it going from the get go,” said Staab.

 

Published 4/28/21

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St. Paul Stays Clean in the Firelands Conference

 

          Norwalk St. Paul rallied to beat Mapleton (13-10) in eight innings on Tuesday evening to remain unbeaten and on top of the standings in the Firelands Conference.

          Plymouth, who beat New London (15-5) is a game back.

          St. Paul scored the go ahead run when Eli Fisher executed a squeeze in the top of the eighth.

          The Flyers (15-3,9-0) were busy with the bats early and took an (8-3) lead after two innings of play.  Mapleton tied it (8-8) with a Landon Sword three run homer in the bottom of the fifth. Trailing (9-8) with two outs in the top of the seventh, St. Paul scored two runs on a throwing error.  Mapleton got a run in the bottom of the seventh to send it to extra innings.

          St. Paul coach Aaron Fries says he knew Mapleton had some pop on offense.  “I knew going over there that they could hit the baseball.  They were as advertised, they could really put the ball in play.  They hit the ball well early, so I thought if we didn’t get things under control this could get to a game where we would have to put some runs on the board and kind of grind something out.  To their credit, they kept battling when we had them down 8-3,” he said.

          Tyler Perkins, who was leading the conference in ERA, permitted 11 hits and eight runs on Tuesday.  Luke Blum went the final three and a third to get the win, giving up two runs on eight hits.

          Fries says this was kind of a gut check for them as they really had not given up a big lead like this until Tuesday night.  “Typically, this year we have won a lot of different ways, but when we have been up in games, we have basically closed those out.  So, if we have gotten up early, we have never surrendered a lead.  This was the first game that we had a lead early, a substantial one, and usually we close those out.  They battled us as and it was good to see the kids stay resilient, stay confident, and at the end of the day we were able to pull it out,” said Fries.

          Fries says he feels like they were able to they were able to come back in the game because they never lost confidence that they were going to pull it out.  “It wasn’t anything that we were doing specifically.  Mapleton was just hitting the ball and putting runs on the board.  They got a three run homer from their eight hitter.  That’s why I don’t think our kids lost confidence.  We weren’t making errors or anything like that.  Mapleton was playing some good ball offensively.  We stayed at it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday after the win, “We were able to take advantage of a few mistakes they had late that allowed us to stay in it.  Eventually we played some small ball there late in the game and were able to get a three run cushion going into the bottom of the eighth and that was enough.”

 

Published 4/28/21

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Hillsdale Gets Past Northwestern

 

          Hillsdale kept itself alive in the race in the Wayne County Athletic League by beating Northwestern (5-3) on Tuesday in a league game.

          They trail Waynedale and Dalton by three games with five to play.  Hillsdale will play Northwestern again Wednesday, weather permitting.  Waynedale shut out Norwayne (5-0) Tuesday, meanwhile Dalton beat Smithville (12-5) in their game.

          Hillsdale fell behind (2-0) after one on Tuesday, but got single runs in the second, third and fourth to take the lead (3-2) and then added a couple of key runs in the fifth.

          Coach Jason Snow says made some clutch plays.  “It was a well played game defensively by both teams.  I think they only had one error.  We had an opportunity in the first inning and didn’t get anything in.  We had a runner on third and nobody out and they jumped on us in the bottom for two.  We went one, one, one and got a big hit to get it to a two run lead.  We held on.  In the last inning they did get second and third with one out, but Nick Kandel, who went all seven innings for us, found a way to shut it down and gave us a win,” said Snow.

          Kandel got a big hit in the fifth to drive in a run to help himself and scored on a hit by Caden Fickes.

          On the mound, he went all seven innings giving up one earned run on three hits.

          Snow says his pitching has been improving.  “He hasn’t given up a lot of hits.  I think it a couple of games he has given up just three hits.  He is working to get more consistent in the zone. He did walk four guys, so he has some guys on base that he has put on.  As a sophomore that is one of the things that he has to get more consistent in the zone and manage his pitches a little better.  We have a good one there that was are looking forward to having over the next few years,” he said.

          After Northwestern, the Falcons (13-5,5-4), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, finish up their league schedule with Chippewa and Smithville.

          Snow says they have to keep winning and get some breaks when it comes to the league race.  “We just have to take care of business and you never know what is going to happen.  There are two teams ahead of us and we want to make sure we stay in the top half.  There are still a lot of games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Dalton still has to play Waynedale and you never know what is going to happen there and everybody else has to finish out their seasons.  So, there are some teams there that can knock you off.  Northwestern played a very good game (Tuesday) and we will have our hands full (Wednesday) and we just have to take care of doing what we do and keep getting better.”

 

Published 4/28/21

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Madison Edges Ashland

 

          Madison scored seven runs on only five hits on Tuesday and beat Ashland (7-6) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball game at Madison High School.

          It didn’t start out well for the Rams as they allowed four runs in the first two innings, but then they got busy scoring two in the second, three in the third and two more in the fourth.

          Coach Nate Taylor says as the game went on, they started to believe more.  “I have told the guys we are very much Jekyll and Hyde,  Some days it is day to day and some days it is inning to inning.  We started off (Tuesday) pretty rough and were down 4-0.  We were able to run a squeeze and get a couple of runs there and kind of changed the tide,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Even then with (Chase) Hunt on the mound for them, you don’t know what to expect.  If you can get a couple of runs, you get a couple runs.  He is pretty good.  He is one of the better pitchers in the conference.  Our guys stayed with it and got a couple of runs and started to believe again, their energy level got up.  Quite honestly that is the key for us, if we can keep our energy in a game, we are not bad.”

          Seth Ohl had two hits for Madison.  Cole Applegate and Jarrett Mandusic both had two RBI.  Ashland, who got 12 hits, got three hits from Jon Metzger and two each from Hunt, Andy Somsak and Logan Fulk.

          Ohl got the win for the Rams, giving up five runs on nine hits over four and two thirds.  Hunter Church closed to get the save.

          Madison (6-12,3-6) has been inconsistent in its play this year.  Taylor says they are working on their mental approach.  “I have told our guys all of the time physical mistakes and going to happen, errors like that are going to happen.  If we can limit the mental mistakes we are going to be okay.  I’m always impressed by the guy that boots, and looks at the pitcher and says shoot me another ground ball here and they make that next play, that’s the tough part.  With our guys it has been a mental battle all year.  I am pretty tough on the guys.  At times, I am a major pain to these guys, but expectations around here are never low.  They are always high because of what we have been able to do in the past.  Keeping the mental part of it in baseball is so key,” said Taylor.

          With only five hits, Taylor says they had to take advantage of their chances to score.  “When you are not swinging the bat all that well and, again, you are seeing a guy like Hunt on the mound, you have to make the most of your opportunities.  We were able to walk three times (Tuesday) night, got hit by a pitch, and we had some quality at bats on the night.  We didn’t have a ton to show for it, but we moved runners when we had to and played small ball and it was just enough,” he said.

 

Published 4/28/21

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Colonel Crawford Wins on Rare Play

 

          Colonel Crawford kept a two game cushion in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference with a dramatic, come from behind, (5-4) win over Seneca East on Monday evening in North Robinson.

          The Eagles lead Wynford, who beat Carey (13-5) on Monday, by two games, while Seneca East falls three games back.

          The game was tied (2-2) after four innings and the Eagles scored on a groundout by Carson Feichtner in the fifth to take (3-2) lead.  Seneca East responded with two in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by Caden Fritz, who later scored on a passed ball to make it (4-3) Tigers.

          Crawford tied it in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI hit by Micah Thomas.  They loaded the bases with one out with a walk to Cade Hamilton and Feichtner was hit by a pitch.  That set the stage for the final play where Brock Ritzhaupt popped out in foul play, but Thomas tagged an scored on a ball hit 40 feet because no one covered home.

          Colonel Crawford coach Dan Gorbett says it was the strangest plays he has been involved in though his hall of fame career.  “The number nine hitter Caleb Lohr came up and worked a walk, so that was huge getting the leadoff runner on base and now we have the top of the order.  Then they had a ball in the dirt and he was able to get to second.  Then our freshman third baseball Micah Thomas got a hit to score him, he had two hits (Monday) night, he had an outstanding game.  He advanced on the throw home and we bunt over to third.  (With the bases loaded) it was a unique ending to a game with a pop fly in front of the first base dugout that the first baseman catches and the catcher went after it too and nobody is coving home and we scored on an F-3 pop fly, you don’t hear that too often,” said Gorbett.

          Seneca East coach Rick Bowerman says they did some good things at the plate, but they allowed the Eagles to have some runs they probably shouldn’t have had.  “The game was a battle between two good teams.  Crawford’s starting pitcher, Cade Hamilton, struggled a little in the first two innings, so they brought in probably the league’s best pitcher, Drayton Burkhart.  I thought we put up a lot of good at bats against him, getting seven hits and three runs.  All three runs they scored before the seventh, I thought we could have prevented,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “We let them score on a steal of home with two outs in a first and third situation, outfielders not communicating on where the fence is and we don’t catch a fly ball that turns into a double and an unearned run off an error.  You can’t make those little mistakes and beat a great team like Colonel Crawford.  Then letting them walk it off on a pop foul to the first basemen, that hurts!”

          After Seneca East (9-7,7-3) had taken the lead in the sixth, Gorbett says they got a critical defensive play to stem the tide.  “There was a huge play in the sixth inning.  They had already scored two and after a base hit to centerfield, Mason McKibben gunned him down at home plate and the ball was right on home plate and Brandon Britt caught it and just put the tag on.  When looking at the scheme of things, that was a huge out,” he said.

          Bowerman believes they can learn from the loss.  “Kudos to Colonel Crawford, there is a reason they are undefeated.  Our pitcher, Turner Bridgford, pitched a heck of a game, he battled all game long.  I am really proud of how we battled (Monday) night, especially after falling to them 12-1 on Friday.  We will learn from our mistakes and strive to get better,” he said.

          Colonel Crawford (17-0,12-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, has also won a game this year when they didn’t get a hit.

          Gorbett says they are able to find a way.  “I know that is another overused coaching cliché, but there is a lot of truth to that.  We usually play good defense, but we were a little shaky (Monday) night and we had opportunities to break the game open, but you have to credit their pitcher, he made the plays and we left some guys stranded,” he said.

 

Published 4/27/21

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Norwalk Gets Back in Race

 

          Norwalk earned a crucial win on Monday evening as they beat Sandusky Perkins (8-5) in a Lake Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          They trail Vermilion by two games in the division standings.  They tail Perkins by one.

          Coach Wes Douglas says Monday was a must win for them.  “If we have any hope at all we couldn’t fall another game back.  A quality Perkins team had beaten us earlier in the season.  We always seem to have back and forth games with them.  We got down 3-0 early (Monday) night and fought back for a nice win.  We feel really good about it,” he said.

          Perkins (10-5,7-2) took a (3-0) lead in the first when Luke Walton hit a solo homer to start the game and two more runs scored on errors.

          The Truckers (10-7,5-3) started their comeback with a run in the third.  Nate Adelman produced an RBI double in the fourth to make it (3-2) and Norwalk took the lead (4-3) when two more runs scored on errors.  Perkins tied it the bottom of the fourth (4-4), but Norwalk took the lead for good in the fifth on a two-run double by Adelman.  They added two insurance runs in the seventh on a two-run single by Thomas Gfell.

          Ian Minor pitched six innings of relief to get the win.

          Douglas says they kept fighting to get the win.  “That’s what we keep talking to the guys about.  Sometimes they have had that energy to keep going.  A couple of times they haven’t.  We made a point of it after the game that we were really happy that the energy stayed up, the focus and the belief, and our course you transfer that to some life lessons along the way.  Things don’t always go as planned and you just keep working as hard as you can until it’s said and done and usually things will turn out the way they are supposed to,” said Douglas.

          When they made some mistakes early and got behind, Douglas says you have to put that in the review mirror.  “Every coach talks about that with their players in every sport.  In baseball, you are kind of on that island on that one play.  Everybody knows you didn’t make the right play.  I made a call that I questioned myself on against Defiance a couple of Saturdays ago in a 1-0, 10 inning loss that ended up costing us the game.  It ate at me for a while, but I told the players that I had to move on to the next situation and keep coaching.  It’s not always easy and sometimes it’s a thing you have to learn in any sport, but I think it is very visible in baseball,” said Douglas.

          With four games left to play in the league, Vermilion and Perkins have three, the Truckers are still alive, but Douglas says they have to keep playing.  “Vermilion won 4-3 over Tiffin (Monday) night, so that puts them in the driver’s seat.  They are a really good baseball team.  We have another shot at them.  Our loss to Tiffin last week we knew at the time was a tough one to swallow with the league race, but we are still alive.  We will keep playing until the last pitch and see where we fall,” he said.

 

Published 4/27/21

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Mohawk Gets Another Win

 

          Mohawk won its third straight “N10” game on Monday when they beat Bucyrus (10-1) at home at their place.

          After going through a rough patch where they lost four league games in a row, coach Eric Hoover says the Warriors (10-7,5-5) has righted the ship a little bit.  “Yeah, it feels that way.  We have been getting contributions from more players.  We were stuck with about three guys making our offensive contributions at least.  We have had some younger guys starting to do some things the last few games, so that is good to see going forward because we are going to need more guys to contribute if we are going to have any consistency,” he said.

          Wyatt Swartz pitched well on Monday and Hoover says they got some solid defense behind him.  “I put senior Wyatt Swartz out there and he did a great job controlling the game.  He threw strikes and didn’t let guys on on free passes.  We made some really good defensive plays on some tough balls on the infield, probably about four of them.  Plays that could go either way.  We did a really good job being consistent in making those plays and pretty much played error free,” said Hoover.

          Mohawk has three freshman and sophomores and four juniors on its team this year and Hoover says those younger guys and starting to get things done.  “They have done a good job.  We got to see them a little last summer.  We got to play a little in July.  Not only do they not have experience, I’m not sure what they can do when we actually start playing because by the time you get outside you don’t get a chance to see them in any game situations,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “We get them in them in there and get the opportunity to get their feet wet and we can learn a little more about what they can do.  They are really starting the step up and that’s good for us.”

 

Published 4/27/21

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Clear Fork Shuts Downs Ontario

 

          Clear Fork scored five runs in the second inning and went on to down Ontario (7-1) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Friday evening in the valley.

          The win keeps the Lady Colts (11-5,6-0) in a share of the conference lead with Marion Pleasant, who has not played a conference game since April 8.

          Taylor Mullins led off the game with a home run over the rightfield fence for the Lady Warriors (7-8,2-4), but they would not score again.

          Courtney Palmer was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the first.  She then stole two bases and scored on an error.

          The Lady Colts then erupted for five runs in the second to take the lead and never looked back.  Trinity Cook walked to open the inning and she promptly stole two bases and scored on an RBI double by Tate Swihart, who scored by a two out single by Reghan Barker.  Barker stole the third base of the inning and scored on wild pitch.  Clear Fork wasn’t done.  They added two more when Palmer walked and came home when Hallie Gottfried unloaded a two run homer that just cleared the centerfield fence.

          Clear Fork coach Jeff Gottfried says against Ontario no lead is secure, but he says his pitcher Ashtynn Roberts did a great job of keeping her focus and making some great pitches.  “Sometimes you wonder if it is going to hold up.  The way things went Tuesday, I wasn’t relaxed until that last out.  It was a very, very good team that we beat, but kudos to our pitcher to bounce back like she did,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “To give up the leadoff home run and to say that’s it we aren’t going to allow anymore.  She was on it and the defense played well, I think we had one error.  A couple of innings they threatened and we made some big plays with two outs and that is the key to keep teams from scoring some runs to get back in the ball game.”

          Roberts gave up 10 hits and struck five in going the distance.

          Clear Fork got some fine defensive plays too, including a nice play when Palmer ranged into the hole to throw out Halle Ciroli and strand two runners in fifth.  Kylie Belcher retired Ciroli when she caught a rising line drive in the fourth.

          Roberts ended the last two innings with strikeouts.

          Ontario coach Sean Snow says they didn’t cash in on their opportunities.  “I know it’s going to come together I have been part of this game for a longtime.  Leaving runners on is our story and it has got to come together.  It is timely hitting.  I don’t know if the girls and in their own head.  We have good hitters and it is not showing on a six game skid right now.  We don’t play a weak schedule either.  That’s a credit to the teams and we have to figure out how to beat them,” said Snow.

          Ontario stranded nine runners.  They ran themselves out of a possible rally in the fifth when Taylor Counts was thrown out at the plate attempting to score from second base on a double by Julia Oblisk with nobody out and then Roberts got the last two.

          Clear Fork beat Ontario (13-10) on Tuesday.

          Gottfried says they were committed to finishing the game better on Friday.  “The game on Tuesday ended up 13-10, but it was 11-1 and 13-2 at two different times and we just didn’t finish.  We talked about that the last two days.  We have had some leads that we have surrendered and we said no more.  We have to got pitch and play defense for seven innings and that’s what we did (Friday) night and I am really proud of our defensive team,” he said.

          Clear Fork stole seven bases on the night, three by Palmer, two by Cook and two by Barker, plus picked up extra bases and forced throwing errors.

          Gottfried says they want to be aggressive and force the action.  “It is our mojo.  We hit a few home runs here and there, but the key to our system is we put pressure on the other team.  It’s no secret, everybody around the state knows that’s what we do, but even if they know what is coming them have to figure out how to shut it down.  They hit a home run to score their first run and we had a hit by pitch and scored a run without a hit.  We just did it in a different way and it set the tone for our team and we said, you know what?  We are not going to back down, we are going to keep the pressure on them and go get them,” said Gottfried.

          Gottfried says they come to the diamond wanting to be the aggressor.  “It’s a mindset that we have established in our program.  They all get it and understand whether it is running the bases or at the plate or if we are playing in the field you have to be aggressive.  We have told them forever if you make a mistake, make it going forward and not going backwards on your heels and that’s what we do,” he said.

 

Published 4/23/21

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Hillsdale Comes up With Big Win

 

          Hillsdale handed Waynedale their first loss of the season in beating the Golden Bears (8-4) in a Wayne County Athletic League game on Thursday evening.

          It was likely the Falcons (11-5,4-4) biggest win of the season so far.

          Coach Jason Snow says it felt good.  “We are still a very young team and we have had a lot of close losses and to beat a very quality Waynedale team and find a way to get things done and make plays.  Mark Able came in and gave us five and two thirds of shut out ball to help us hold on for a big win,” he said.

          Hillsdale scored six runs in the first two innings and Snow says the way they responded in the second inning for key.  “We worked some walks and they made a couple of errors that helped us out, but then we got some big hits.  All throughout the game we had some guys that stepped up and got a couple of RBI here and there and we kept adding on.  We put four up in the first inning and they answered with three and they we were able to come back in the second inning and get two more.  I thought that was a big part of the game, that second inning for us,” said Snow.

          Ty Williams had two hits for the Falcons.  Nick Kandel and Caden Fickes both had two RBI.

          Snow says it was not an easy day to play baseball, but his players were able to focus on what they had to do.  “(Thursday) night was not an easy night to play for anybody.  Pitchers getting a grip on the ball with the wind, the cold weather.  Both starters struggled to find the strike zone and both relievers came in and threw strikes and the game really settled down after the first two innings.  Fortunately for us we got to them early and got a few more runs and we were able to hold on,” he said.

          Waynedale (14-1,7-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, now shares first with Dalton, who beat Norwayne (5-2) on Thursday, and the Bobcats are game back.  Hillsdale trails by three.

          Snow says they have had some tough losses in close games this year, but they are getting better as the season goes on.  He says you have to put those losses behind you.  “It is difficult to do that, especially the Norwayne loss, leading 2-0 with two outs in the seventh, and nobody on.  We will look back at that one later and say, ouch, that one probably hurt, but you can’t do anything about that at that point,” he told Swankonsports.com after Thursday’s win, “We have to keep going out, keep battling, I think for us to go out last week with games with Triway and West Holmes and Ontario and now two with Waynedale we have really played a strong schedule and I think our kids are getting better.  We also know we can compete.  We have been in every game, I think 4-2 is our biggest loss.  Our other losses are 3-2 and 5-4, we have had three 3-2 games.  So, we are learning how to play in close contests and getting better each time.”

 

Published 4/23/21

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Colonel Crawford Beats Wynford; Stays One Back

 

          Colonel Crawford belted Wynford (10-2) on Thursday evening and the Lady Eagles kept themselves right in the race in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

          They are a game behind Bucyrus, tied with Mohawk for second place in the standings.

          Coach Sarah Fraser says they had to battle the elements too on Thursday, but they found a way.  “We started out kind of slow.  Hitting the ball in the air obviously wasn’t going anywhere because of the wind, so we made adjustments and started hitting line drives and made them make plays and we came out ahead,” she said.

          Fraser says she was coaching the kids that a day like Thursday was not the best environment to hits home runs.  “I think I said down and hard about 2,000 times (Thursday) night.  We have been really working on that just as a team in general because we have a pretty hard swinging for the fence team,” she told Swankonsports.com after the win, “You try to get the mental approach a little different instead of visioning the ball going over the fence we are trying to get them to visioning it going through the fence.  So, that definitely came into play (Thursday) night for sure.”

          In fact, the Lady Eagles Alivia Studer leads the “N10” in homers so far this season.

          Colonel Crawford (13-2,9-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com softball coaches poll in the small school division, lost for the first time last Friday when Mohawk beat them (4-1) in a conference game.

          Fraser believes they have reacted quite well to that loss and have came back this week and played well.  “It definitely took a bit out of us.  Last week was a tough week.  We had six game in the week but the Friday Mohawk loss we were only halfway through our six games.  So, we were mentally and physically exhausted an then we came back and beat a tough Lexington team on Saturday in our second game.  It took a bit of mental readjusting and a day off to physically recuperate from last week,” said Fraser.

 

Published 4/23/21

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Buckeye Central Gets Past Upper

 

          Buckeye Central won its fourth “N10” game in its last five by beating Upper Sandusky (5-4) on a cold and windy Thursday in New Washington.

          Coach Chad Jensen says his young group, they have only one senior, is improving and played very against Upper.  “We hadn’t played this week.  There are nine teams in the “N10”, so it was our bye and it is hard to schedule games at the beginning of the week because every other team in playing league.  We have had a chance to work on fundamentals in practice and things we need to work on.  The kids played really well (Thursday).  It was cold.  We got some clutch hits that we haven’t always gotten.  We got some big clutch hits and got a great pitching performance from Alex Kanney and the kids played really well,” said Jensen.

          Buckeye Central scored twice in the bottom of the first on Thursday and Jensen felt it was important to get in front.  “We were able to get on the board early.  We had a big double by Kaiden Vaughn that got us two early and we were able to get a couple of base runners early and Kaiden had that big double for us.  That was huge.  You get that lead and to get a clutch hit with runners on was big for us.  It really did help us to get that lead and help us establish,” he said.

          Kanney won this third game of the season and has an ERA of less than two.  Jensen says he was a bulldog again on Thursday and wanted the ball.  “It was a great job by Alex.  It was 2-2 in the fifth and we were able to get three runs.  We got a sac fly from Lane Bauer, we got a couple of clutch singles from Clay Green and Manny Mullins.  Alex gave up a run in the sixth and it was 5-3.  We got two quick outs in the seventh like on five pitches,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “Then they got a couple runners on, didn’t hit it real hard, but were able to find some green.  I went out to talk to him and I was debating on weather I was going to pull him or not.  He looked at me and said I can get this guy coach, I can get him, and I’m a sucker for competitiveness.  So, when a kid says he can get him, I tend to believe him and we got a pop out and got the win.”

 

Published 4/23/21

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Mohawk Claims “N10” Win

 

          Mohawk won its first Northern 10 Athletic Conference baseball game in more than two weeks Thursday when they downed Carey (6-3) on the road.

          Coach Eric Hoover hopes that it injects some confidence into his team.  “We have been on a bit of slide and having trouble putting runs of the board.  Just can’t make any breaks for ourselves, can’t catch any breaks, so getting a win was good.  We definitely needed one to build some confidence going forward,” he said.

          Mohawk scored four times in the sixth inning and twice more in the seventh to secure the win.  Blake Harper had a couple big hits for the Warriors with RBI singles in both the sixth and seventh.  Tyler Hayman drove in the go ahead run in the sixth.  Landon Snyder started and went the whole way for Mohawk giving up one earned run on four hits.

          Hoover says this time they were the ones that got the big inning.  “Hopefully they will build on it and look to improve some things.  Honestly, we played about the same that have been playing.  We made some really bonehead mistakes, plays that you just can’t make.  We struggled with runners in scoring position.  We were the ones that had the one big inning this time.  It is usually one that we give up.  We were on the other end of it and had our one big inning and took the lead and hopefully we can carry that momentum forward,” said Hoover.

          Mohawk (8-7,3-5) plays at Bucyrus (3-11,3-4) on Friday.  Hoover says going forward they have to take better advantage of things.  “I feel like we leave so many runners in scoring position and we are not getting any of the key hits.  Two years ago, the last season that we had, we ended up with a really good record, but we won a lot of close games because we got key hit after key hit to get runs to take a one run lead at the end of games or something and we are not getting those right now.  That’s baseball and that’s how baseball works and we just have to find the confidence to make those plays and take advantage when the other team makes a mistake,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We are not even doing that defensively and making them pay for mistakes that they make like our opponents and doing to us.  I think it is a confidence thing and hopefully we can get some more guys rolling, communicating, and just relaxing and having fun playing the game.”

 

Published 4/23/21

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Mt. Vernon Bounces Back

 

          Mt. Vernon earned an important win over Madison (9-2) on Tuesday to keep themselves in the hunt in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          They are tied for second with West Holmes and Ashland, a game behind Wooster.

          Coach Nate Hunt felt it was important for them to get back on the beam right away after being swept by Wooster last week.  “Wooster last week, obviously, not the way we wanted it to go.  I can’t say anything bad about Wooster because they have a good ballclub, fundamentally sound, they did everything right.  As a program, you have to take a step back.  I knew we had a couple of tough non-conference games on Saturday.  I just knew we had to bounce back,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Olentangy Berlin is a top ten division I team in the district and Licking Heights is top too.  The Wooster game we learned a lot about ourselves, about our program, about our seniors, and our seniors bounced back.  It was really good to see the team bounce back, especially after a tough loss.”

          Hunt says with the baseball season being short and so many games crammed together there really isn’t time for a slump of any kind.  “We get the two wins on Saturday against two really good baseball teams and then we just kind of carried over into Tuesday for conference.  It was just a good thing to see a comeback.  There are times when the game of baseball beats up on you and when you are down and you need a break, you don’t get one, so definitely good to see,” he said.

          Mt. Vernon (10-4,5-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, plays host to Madison (5-9,2-5) again on Thursday after snow postponed the game on Wednesday.

          Coming into the series, the Rams had won four of their last five and Hunt knew they would be ready to play and will be Thursday as well.  “The thing that I wanted to stress to my guys was at the end of the day they are ready to go.  They think of you are a rival as everyone in the conference does.  You are going to see their best guy and they sling it too.  It is something that I tell them, never look at scores.  Scores are something that you should never base a team off of.  The only time you should judge a team is after the game when you are done playing them.  The best team doesn’t always win, it’s the team that plays the best on that day that wins.  We went two scoreless innings in the beginning.  So, it was just good again to see our guys compete and ready to go,” said Hunt.

 

Published 4/22/21

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South Central Stays Close

 

          South Central scored two runs over the final two innings to rally and beat Plymouth (4-3) Tuesday in Firelands Conference action.

          The win keeps the Trojans (6-8,4-2) two games back of Norwalk St. Paul in conference standings.  Plymouth (7-5,5-1) is now a game back after losing their first conference game.

          Plymouth had won (9-8) at their place on Monday and South Central coach Mike Perry feels that Tuesday was huge for them.  “That’s what I told them going into it.  We weren’t able to get the job done the night before.  I explained to them that this is the game we need if we have any hope to compete in this conference,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We came out and looked like we did the night before.  We threw the ball around a couple of times, had a couple of unearned runs and went down 3-0 and then my freshman second basemen in about the fourth inning tweaked his knee and he had to come out of the game and we had to put some subs in there and it seemed like the adversity got the boys going.  After that we had better at bats and Carl Ferber on the mound was just untouchable in the last three or four innings.”

          Trailing (3-2) headed to the bottom of the sixth, Carson Music led off the inning with a triple and scored on an sacrifice fly by David Lamoreaux.  Then in the seventh, Karl Ferber drove in the winning run with an infield single.

          Perry says the players circled the wagons when behind and did a very good job of battling adversity.  “It was a wakeup call.  I mean Eric Sanders, he is only a freshman, but he is a very, very important part of both our offense and defense.  He is a kid that I ask a lot of things and he even pitches a little.  When you see him come off the field it kind of jolted everyone and everyone came together and things turned around from that point,” he said.

          Ferber went the distance and gave up three runs, one earned, on three hits, striking out nine.

          Perry says he had good stuff and was mentally strong in what was a very good effort.  “That was the great thing (Tuesday).  He had a couple of errors behind him in the same inning.  There was a check swing call that didn’t go his way.  Instead of worrying about it, he just wanted the ball back and the next pitch he took care of it himself.  He retired the last 11 guys and I don’t think he went to three balls on anyone.  He was throwing harder than I have seen him in a long time and his curveball was incredible,” said Perry.

 

Published 4/22/21

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Ontario Leads “MOAC”

 

          Ontario has a young baseball team in many ways, but one that has enjoyed success this season, especially in conference games.

          They beat Clear Fork (11-5) to stay in first.

          Coach Jeff Fisher says they got the early lead and they were able to stay in front.  “We scored first.  We scored with two outs.  We had some clutch hits and we extended the lead,” he said.

          Ontario (7-6,4-1) leads Shelby by a game, they have beaten the Whippets twice, and Pleasant is also a game back.

          Especially with a young team, Fisher says confidence in their abilities is very important.  “Confidence for a young team is paramount.  It just comes with knowing that baseball is a difficult game to play the right way.  Once you can get past that you can start focusing on the positives.  We had a really good practice on Monday and we turned that into a solid performance on Tuesday,” said Fisher.

          The Warriors seem to be a team that has shown improvement this year, but Fisher says that must, of course, continue, especially with some of the young pitchers that have.  “We are not out of the woods yet.  We are still 7-6.  There is enough damage in the review mirror to force a head coach to pause.  We have got to clean things up, especially on the mound and establish some roles there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Have some quality innings with good defense behind them to temper some of the big innings we have been victimized by.  The jury is still out there.  We are looking to right those wrongs and just try to play through.”

          The rematch with Clear Fork (5-7,2-3) that would have been Wednesday if not for the snow, will be played at American Legion Field in Bellville on April 30.  Ontario’s next game will by Friday at the Cedar Points Sports Center against Vermilion of the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          Fisher says whatever the day brings his kids have to continue to be ready to play the game and get better.  “Take advantage of the day that you have whether it is an off day or is game day.  Each of those opportunities has its own routine.  We are trying to control those so we can have a proper plan when we get to the ballfield,” he said.

 

Published 4/22/21

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Fredericktown Shares First

 

          Fredericktown and Highland share first place in the baseball standings in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference and it looks like it is going to be an interesting race over the next three weeks.

          The Freddies (11-3,7-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, beat Danville on Monday (16-1) and Tuesday (11-1) to keep their share first place.

          Coach Ryan Hathaway says they were focused in those games.  “We played pretty well against them.  I might not be the strongest team that Danville has had, but they compete really hard and compete hard against us.  So, to just continue to get better each game and I thought we took some good steps this week,” he said.

          The Freddies really didn’t have a lot of experience coming into this season, but Hathaway says they have come around quite nicely.  “That is kind of what we were hoping to begin the season.  Having the guys get the timing back and everything.  Just getting them all playing together.  This is the first year for this team playing as one team with all of the seniors that we graduated two years ago and then obviously not having last year.  We didn’t have that year to get guys acclimated and playing together.  So, I knew it was going to take a little time and we pretty pleased with what we are seeing,” he said.

          Right now, their biggest win of the season came last Friday when they handed Highland their only loss of the season (9-5) to move back into first place after losing to them (4-1) on Wednesday.

          Hathaway says they played that game with confidence.  “Looking at it we didn’t want to over hype it too much, but it was definitely a big game just to stay in the race with them knowing who they had left with their schedule and the tough games that we have left in the conference yet.  We knew that we had to get at least one of two from them to stay in the race.  We really played with a lot of confidence that night,” said Hathaway.

 

Published 4/22/21

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Clear Fork Outlasts Ontario; Stays in First Place

 

          Clear Fork rapped out 17 hits, including four home runs, and they held on to beat Ontario (13-10) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference softball game on Tuesday evening.

          The Lady Colts (10-5,5-0) maintain a share of the lead in the conference standings.  Pleasant (9-3,4-0) had their game with River Valley cancelled on Tuesday.  River Valley trails by two games and Ontario (7-7,2-3) by three.

          The rematch is now scheduled for Friday in the valley due to snow and cold temperatures over the next couple of days.

          Courtney Palmer had four hits, including two doubles and a triple for the Lady Colts.  Ashtynn Roberts and Trinity Cook both had three hits.  Hallie Gottfried, Roberts, Renee Anders, and Reghan Baker all had home runs for Clear Fork.  Courtney Palmer and Roberts both had three RBI.

          Coach Jeff Gottfried says they hit the ball hard, but they could never put Ontario away.  “Any win you can get on the road in conference play is a good win.  We certainly swung bats very well, we had 17 hits, so we hit it all over the place.  We just couldn’t seem to finish.  We actually had a 10 run lead and an 11 run lead at different points in the game,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We were looking at a run rule, but they were scratching and clawing and got it down to nine, then it was back up to 11, and they got it under 10.  All of the sudden, I think we got a little tight at the end and just couldn’t really finish the way we needed to, but fortunately we had a big enough lead that we were able to get it done and get a nice win on the road.”

          Leading (2-1) going to the fourth inning, Clear Fork hung up a crooked number by scoring seven times to take command.

          Gottfried says they just got momentum on their side.  “We scored seven runs in one inning.  We had a big explosion with two outs.  The momentum thing in high school sports it is indescribable, I don’t care what sport it is when you see that momentum ball rolling it happens and it happened in that inning for us offensively and it also happened for Ontario late in the game.  They had a three run inning followed by a five run inning.  Thank goodness, they ran out of outs at the end.  The momentum thing is huge in high school sports,” he said.

          Clear Fork had to hang on though, leading (13-2) heading for the bottom of the sixth, the Lady Warriors plated eight runs in their final two at bats.  Gottfried had to bring starting pitcher Roberts back into the game to finish it up after replacing her with Maddi Dion after the fifth inning.

          Gottfried says his girls always kept fighting.  “We made a couple of errors and gave them some easy runs that kind of put them back in the game.  It gave them some confidence to do some things, but fortunately they never did bring the tying run to the plate.  Our pitching staff, we used both of them (Tuesday) night and we had to bring the starter back in to get it done.  I don’t know if either them felt really, really good about their outing.  The one thing that we do is we keep fighting.  Win or lose, we are going to fight to the end and that was what I saw out of our kids and they fought to that last out,” said Gottfried.

 

Published 4/21/21

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Shelby Keeps Pace in the “MOAC”

 

          Shelby earned another important win in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference on Tuesday as they went to Galion and beat the Tigers (8-2) to stay a game behind Ontario.

          The Warriors beat Clear Fork (11-5) on Tuesday.

          Coach Jon Amicone says its important to win on the road in the conference and he likes to get the first game of that two game series.  “It kind of keeps us in the hunt as far as the “MOAC” goes playing a really good team at Galion.  On the road, it is always good to get that first win because in our league we play back to back.  We play them again (Wednesday) pending weather and we are looking for the sweep.  It is always important to get that one because it kind of takes the pressure off, but we know we will be in a battle the next time we play them,” said Amicone.

          Shelby (11-2,5-2) is scheduled to host the Tigers (8-5,4-3) on Wednesday, but it looks like the weather might be a real problem with snow falling in the early morning hours of late April.

          Amicone says they got an excellent start out of pitcher Marshall Shephard on Tuesday that put them in control of the game.  “Galion top to bottom is a really good team.  They do a lot of little things right defensively and have a really solid lineup.  We got a really good effort out of Marshall Shepherd, obviously he is supposed to be our guy this year.  He had a number one type start for us.  He went six strong and held them to one run.  We able to extend the lead in the sixth and were able to go to the bullpen,” he said.

          Marek Albert, Shepherd and Luke Shepherd all had two hits for the Whippets and both Shepherds had two RBI.

          Shelby erupted for five runs in the sixth inning and Amicone thought that was key in their win over Galion.  “Our kids did a really good job of extending.  That is something we talk about in our offensive philosophy is extending the lead and how important that is when we do have a lead to keep taking on runs.  We were able to open it op a little in the sixth and score five and the top of the seventh push one across, which I thought was huge,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “It all goes back to being on the road too.  When you are on the road and they get that last at bat you have to keep extending the game.  You don’t want to be the guy that gets walked off, so all of those late runs are extremely important, not only for the psyche of the team, but just knowing you have a little insurance because you don’t want to be walked off.”

 

Published 4/21/21

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Lexington Gets a Win

 

          Lexington broke a seven game losing skid on Tuesday evening by trimming Mansfield Senior (2-0) in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

          They had not won since beating Norwalk in a non-conference game on April 3 in the second game of a doubleheader.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says it feels really good.  “The boys definitely needed to feel that and have some happy feelings on senior night.  It was a hard fought game, but we came out on top.  It was good the finally get back in the win column,” he said.

          Lexington (3-10,3-4) is supposed to play at Mansfield Senior (1-11,0-5) on Wednesday, but it looks like the weatherman may get in the way of that game.

          The Minutemen got good pitching on Tuesday and Morrow says they were able to field the ball too in a game played at Mansfield Christian, the home field for the Minutemen this year.  “Gabe Hamilton went five innings and he only gave up one hit and then Cole Pauley came in for a scoreless two inning save and both boys combined to keep us up the whole game and then our defense didn’t have any errors, so that helps too,” said Morrow.

          They didn’t tear the cover off the ball in anyway, but Morrow says they did what they had to do to score some runs.  “We came through, but I’ll tell you what Mansfield Senior is much improved,” he told Swankopnsports.com on Tuesday night, “Coach (J.R.) Davis has got those guys playing hard.  Their shortstop and their centerfielder robbed us of a couple smashed hits that could have put some more runs on the board, but we got just enough.  Kevin Grimm got an RBI hit that was enough to make it stand for the win.”

 

Published 4/21/21

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Northmor Pounds Cardington in Rematch

 

          Northmor scored five times in the second inning and never looked back in blasting Cardington (11-3) in a Knox Morrow Athletic Conference game on Tuesday evening at Cardington.

          They lost to Cardington (7-1) on Monday.

          That is the third time the Golden Knights have responded to a conference loss with a win this spring.

Coach Buck Workman says wins this year in the “KMAC” are truly up for grabs.  “I think it speaks volumes to the depth of the league really.  On any night, anybody can beat anybody, and that is just what has happened to us in these three sets against Centerburg, East Knox and now Cardington.  We lost the first game and were able to turn around and get the second one,” he said.

Northmor (10-5,5-3) also did something else they have done all season and that is get behind early. 

Workman says they sort of feed on that.  “We have had traditionally show starts this year and we did it again (Tuesday) night.  We went one, two, three in the first inning, we hit a couple balls hard, but hey come up and score a couple.  It was the same old story we go down early,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “In the second inning we get a leadoff double and I’m like, alright, here we go, then we get two quick outs and I’m like, oh man, but then we put together five runs with two outs.  From that point forward the kids were just oozing with confidence and we were able to keep it going.”

Max Lower, Pierce Lower and Andrew Armrose all had two hits for the Golden Knights, Max Lower had two RBI.  Drew Hammond gave up two runs over five and two thirds innings to get the win.

All five of the runs it the second inning came with two out and Workman says those key hits are really big.  “I tell my kids all of the time those two out hits, those are almost like extra runs because they are so demoralizing to the defense.  When you are one pitch from getting out of the inning and it is bing, bang, boom and you give up two, three runs, just like that, it’s frustrating,” said Workman.

 

Published 4/21/21

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Colonel Crawford Grabs Lead

 

          Colonel Crawford railed form a five run deficit to beat Wynford (12-7) Monday evening and take first place to themselves in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

          The Royals scored two runs in the top of the first on two hit batsmen, a perfect bunt for a single by Cody Taylor and RBI ground outs by Cainen Allen and Grant McGuire.  They added runs scoring hits by Leyton Appleby, Taylor and Spencer Miller to make it (5-0) after an inning and half.

          Crawford coach Dan Gorbett says that put his unbeaten team in an unfamiliar position.   “We got down 5-0 and I told the kids we have never been in this situation this year, how are we going to respond?  I said we can’t expect to get five runs in an inning, we just have to chip away,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Seven and eight got base hit and nine got a ground ball to get them in.  That bottom of the order picked us up there.  From that point on it was like everybody started hitting all of the way through the lineup.  I thought that was kind of the key, the guys that aren’t supposed to hit picked it up and got us going.  We had our backs to the wall and did a nice job coming back.  They are good team, they really are, they put the bat on the ball.  It will be a tough game Wednesday with them.”

          After leaving the bases loaded in the first without scoring, the Eagles got two in their half of the second on a single by Brennan Hamilton, an RBI double by Mason McKibben and an RBI ground out by Caleb Lohr, as numbers seven, eight and nine got them started.

          Crawford would take the lead (6-5) with a four spot in the bottom of the fourth with RBI hits by Cade Hamilton, Carson Feichtner, two other runs scored on errors.

          The Eagles weren’t done, they got four more in the fifth to take a (10-5) lead on a run scoring hit by freshman Micah Thomas, a sacrifice fly by Feichtner, and a couple more errors.

          It became (12-5) in the sixth on back to back singles by Thomas and Cade Hamilton and a sac fly by Brock Ritzhaupt.

          Wynford scored a couple in the top of the seventh on hits by Miller and Allen and a RBI double by Dylon Robinson.

          Thomas and Cade Hamilton both had four hits on the day.  “Micah has really been coming on strong, he had a great game.  Cade, they put that shift on, and he put that bunt down there and he had that hit down the line, so he had a really good game,” said Gorbett.

          Wynford starter Sam Collene got out of two bases loaded jams and stuck out four Eagles in the first three innings, but coach Tom Smith says beginning in the fourth he got the ball over the middle of the plate.  “The strike zone was really tight and his pitch count got up early and when you have to start throwing the ball over the plate they are going to hit you.  He just got tired there in the fifth inning and they hit him, they put the ball in play,” said Smith.

          Collene gave up 10 hits in going four innings, facing three batters in the fifth.

          Drayton Burkhart earned his sixth victory against no losses this year on Monday in going the distance.  However, the Royals did reach him for 10 hits on the day.  “We were facing the best pitcher in the league and we scored seven runs against him.  I think we are good going forward.  We have been hitting all year.  We are leading the league in batting average and second in runs scored.  We have been hitting the ball, so to coming and hit the best pitcher in the league like that.  We are hitting the ball fine, the offense is fine,” said Smith.

          Burkhart allowed only five hits, three in the seventh, in the final five innings on Monday and Gorbett says he pitched better as the game went on.  “I have never seen him hit two batters in a season and he hit two in an inning.  He said his hands were slippery and it was a slider and it kind of slipped out of his hands.  They scored two runs and the ball never left the infield.  So, he had that slow start and the came back and got a couple of more on him.  Once we battled back, he picked it up and notch and really finished strong,” said Gorbett.

          Colonel Crawford (13-0,9-0), #2 in the first Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll of the season in the small school division, plays at Wynford (11-5,8-1) on Wednesday, if the weather allows.  Gorbett says it will be important for them to maintain their slim lead in the conference.  “One game at a time.  I know that is a cliché, but that was our cheer, 1-0.  This will be nice to enjoy tonight, but we have to think of one game leading them because they are just one game behind.  That will be a big game,” he said.

          Seneca East, who beat Bucyrus (16-0) on Monday, also tails Crawford by a game.

          Smith says they want to win at home, just like the Eagles did.  “I mean it’s another game, right?  Obviously, we want to get a spilt with them.  They defended their home field, so we want to come back and defend ours next game,” he said.

 

Published 4/20/21

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St. Paul Edges New London

 

          Norwalk St. Paul’s Scotty Adelman outdueled New London’s Jacob Shaver and the Flyers beat the Wildcats (4-1) in a Firelands Conference game on Monday evening.

          Both pitchers struck out 15 batters.

          The win keeps the Flyers (11-3,5-0) in share of first place in the conference with Plymouth, who beat South Central (9-8) on Monday.

          Coach Aaron Fries says it was the kind of game he expected.  “We kind of thought going over there that runs and hits would be tough to come by.  I thought we had a good plan.  It kind of played out for us the way we hoped.  It was definitely a pitcher’s duel with 30 strikeouts between the two of them.  Shaver was an excellent pitcher.  I had heard quite a bit about him from the kids and he did a nice job.  Scotty was just unbelievable again (Monday) night like he has been all year,” he said.

          Adelman has not allowed an earn run over his last three starts.  He has permitted only one earned run in in Firelands Conference play, which has included wins over Monroeville, Crestview and New London.

          Fries says he had both of his pitches working on Monday.  “(Monday) was about as good as he has pitched since really our scrimmage versus Norwalk as far as his command.  I thought he was really good with his command with both his pitches, his curveball, which is excellent, and then his fastball, and he was able to put them about anywhere he wanted to and he got ahead of most of the hitters throughout the night.  He is really in midseason form right now, right where you would want him to be.  He just seems to be gaining more confidence and getting better with each outing,” said Fries.

          Eli Fisher tied the game at (1-1) with an RBI single in the top of the third, Kaden Maxwell doubled and scored on wild pitch in the fifth to the Flyers on top (2-1) and St. Paul added two runs in the seventh that scored on wild pitches.

          Fries says this executed on offense.  “I think anytime we face a strong pitcher our goal is to get as many guys in scoring position as we can if we get them on, we want to get them over and get them in scoring position.  We know when we get them in scoring position they aren’t always going to score, but the more times we do that the better our chances are to get a few and that is what we feel we need in most circumstances with the pitching we have.  He was by far the best pitcher we have seen this year, so it was good to preform that way,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We are going to see good pitchers throughout the season and you have to play a certain way to compete and be successful.  I thought what we did (Monday) night was exactly what we needed to do.  When we got guys on, we got them in scoring position and we got enough in and put enough pressure on them.”

 

Published 4/20/21

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Edison Maintains First Place in Bay Division

 

          Thomas Simon allowed only three hits and struck out 11 as the Edison Chargers maintained a one game lead in the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division with a (5-0) win over Oak Harbor on Monday evening.

          The Chargers lead Huron by a game in the division standings.  The Tigers beat Willard (15-1) on Monday in division play.

          Coach Sean Hoover says Simon really didn’t have command early in the game, but he battled.  “He had a great game.  He got up in the zone early and struggled a little bit and got his pitch count up, but battled through it and that is what good pitchers can do, they can battle though sometimes when they don’t have their best stuff until they start to find it,” he said.

          Simon stuck out the side in the seventh inning to put the game away.

          Hoover says he showed some mental toughness.  “Especially with young kids when they don’t have their best stuff sometimes mentally that doesn’t put them in a great place out there, so they have to learn how to not only get over the physical part of it and how can I still put the ball where if the other team hits it we can make outs and not just get frustrated because they don’t feel like they have command of all of their pitches,” said Hoover.

          Simon and Clint Finnen had RBI hits in the fifth for the Chargers (8-4,4-0) and they scored three in the second with the befit of only one hit.

          Hoover says it’s about finding a way.  “We did a good job of getting some guys on base in the second inning.  When you find ways to get them across the plate, you will take them whenever you can get them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “We didn’t hit any balls in the gaps or clear bases with bases loaded.  A couple of guys were standing in the right place in the batter’s box to wear a couple of pitches.  You will take the lead anyway you can get it.”

 

Published 4/20/21

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Vermilion Tops Bellevue

 

          Vermilion got solid pitching and took advantage of opportunities on offense to beat Bellevue (10-3) Monday evening in play in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          The win keeps the Sailors (9-4,6-1) a game behind Perkins in the Lake Division standings, the Pirates beats Clyde (5-0) on Monday.

          Coach Jeff Keck says it was a good overall win for his team.  “Jake Krausher had another good game.  He’s 3-1 right now.  He had 10 strikeouts and was able to go six innings and Carter Klausing finished it in the seventh, I think he threw under 10 pitches in the seventh to finish it off.  We were ale to create some runs,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We are able to take advantage of some walks by Bellevue.  I think that was probably one of the things that was a key to the game.  We were able to push some runs across.  I think we only had about three or four hits.  It was a good win.  The weather was pretty nasty.  It was pretty windy and cold.  It was one of those typical spring games on the lake.  It’s hard to play in the elements like that.  So, we were fortunate to come out of it with a win.”

          Keck says they are a team that knows how to run the bases and pick up some runs and they got some key hits Monday.  “That is part of high school baseball you can create some runs.  One thing that we take pride in is our kids runs bases well.  They take extra baes when they can, read pitches and do things the right way on the bases and because of that I think sometimes we can create runs.  Basically, we are taking advantage of other teams’ mistakes, not even necessarily mistakes, just playing the game the right way.  Cody Shultz came up with a big hit that scored two runs.  Ethan Hendrickson had a key hit that scored two runs.  So, out of those three hits, two of them were pretty big hits and accounted for four runs.  We had hits at the right time,” said Keck.

          The weather has turned kind of nasty of the last week and it is supposed to be worse on Wednesday when the Sailors are supposed to play at Bellevue.  Keck says you have to be mentally tough.  “Both teams have to play in it and you have to be the one the team that plays through it and overcomes adversity.  We were able to do that (Monday).  I guess (Wednesday) morning we are supposed to have about three inches of snow on the ground, so I don’t know how that is going to work in late April, that’s interesting,” he said.

 

Published 4/20/21

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Mehock Relays Return

 

          After a year hiatus due to COVID-19 the Mansfield Mehock Relays returned Saturday under a partly cloudy sky and the competition was solid with Brunswick winning team titles in both boys and girls.

          Crestview was second in the final boys’ standings and Mansfield Madison was second in the girls.

          In boys’ competition, Brunswick won five events as Tomas Rimac took both the shot put and the discus, Evan Jarold won the 1,600 meters, Alex Keller won the 3,200 meters and the Blue Devils won the 400 meter relay.

          In the girls’ side, they were also strong in the field events with Madison Wyatt winning the discus and Emma Gray the pole vault, they also won the mile relay.

          Madison had an excellent day and coach Andrew Saris says their performance was a little unexpected. “Actually, it was a little bit of a surprise.  We just ran Thursday at the Ontario Relays and I thought I put together a tough lineup for that.  (Saturday) I wanted to specialize with a few kids here and there.  We had some girls, and even boys, that I didn’t expect would come in and place, maybe snuck in and got a fifth or a sixth.  Some kids weren’t fully evented, but in the events they did come out and participate in they were able to score points for our team.  It was cool, I didn’t know I would be getting this trophy, but it’s awesome,” said Saris.

          Kari Echenwiler was dynamite for Madison in winning the 300 meter hurdles (48.29) and the long jump (17’3”). “I wanted 17 so bad (Saturday), I have been waiting all season it, actually I have been waited two years for it.  I just felt really good.  I felt like I really wanted to win Mehocks because it would be my third straight.  I knew 17 would have to do it, so I went really hard and was really aggressive with my jumps and I go it,” said Echwnwiler.

          She also won the long jump at the 2018 and 2019 relays.

          Nevaeh Lewis took the 100 meters and Alexsia Davis the 200 for the Lady Rams.  They also won the 400 meter relay.

          Brunswick totaled 110 points, while Madison had 100.  Shelby finished third with 64, Lyndhurst Brush fourth with 55.75 and Crestview fifth with 46.75.

          Other local winners in girls’ events include Samantha Comer of Galion the 100 hurdles, Emily Hanft of Mt. Gilead in the 3,200, Kassie Stine of Shelby in the high jump and Bree Mills of Ontario in the shot put.

          Also, Brie Trumpower of Ontario won the 800 meter run. “I felt pretty good.  It was a little weird with this being my first race.  I usually have the mile or the 4x800 before it, so my legs felt a little heavy, but I eventually warmed up,” said Trumpower.

          With a tremendous finishing kick, Destiney Rose of Willard took the 1,600 meters.  “I have been running cross country and track for a really long time.  I wanted to be sprinter, but I wasn’t able to do that very well and I have always been able to kick in the end,” said Rose.

          Isaac Brooks of Madison took two boys’ events in winning the 110 and 300 hurdles, so did Tanner Moore of Crestview in taking the 100 meters and the high jump, Josh Hawley of Ashland won the 800 meters, Aveon Grose of Mansfield Senior won the long jump and Ethan Staley of Clear Fork the pole vault.

          In the final boys’ standings, Brunswick totaled 113 points, Crestview had 92, Mansfield Senior was third with 68, Shelby fourth with 55, Brush fifth with 51 and Madison sixth with 49.

 

Published 4/17/21

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Colonel Crawford Faces Mohawk in Big One

 

          Colonel Crawford shares first place in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference softball standings with Bucyrus, a game in front of Mohawk, at nearly the halfway mark of the conference schedule.

          The Lady Eagles (10-0,7-0) beat Mohawk (6-5) on Wednesday in Sycamore and will host them at Chuck Huggins Field in the rematch on Friday in North Robinson.

          Crawford beat New London (13-4) in a non-conference game on Thursday evening.

          They are unbeaten on the season overall and coach Sarah Fraser says they have had great consistency so far this year.  “That is one thing we have been hammering in.  We really make a conscious effort to expect every team is going to be the best team we are ever going to play.  So, that definitely helps with the tough schedule,” she told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We have six games this week, after (Thursday) night we are only halfway through.  It is definitely grueling for spring sports.”

          It’s more of an offensive game that is ever has been, but pitching is still the key in softball and Fraser believes they have two very successful pitchers.  “We are fortunate to have our ace in Lauren Frietchen, who has won six big games for us this year and our number two girl Alivia Studer, who was number one two years ago, she pitched (Thursday) night and picked up her fourth win.  So, we have been very fortunate to have a very good one, two punch,” she said.

          Going into this week, Frietchen had an ERA of 1.13, second on the conference.  Studer is also the Lady Eagles leader in home runs and RBI.  Mohawk’s Aubrie Harper leads the “N10” in batting average and RBI.

          Having won the first game with Mohawk (9-1,4-1), Fraser hopes the home field gives her team a little edge.  “I am glad we went up there (Wednesday) and got the win on their turf, so we can bring them to our field.  I think the home field advantage will help a little bit, but it’s Mohawk.  They are an amazing team and we have got to dig in and play,” she said.

          Fraser also played for Colonel Crawford, and very successful it should be added, and she says being at home in North Robinson makes you more comfortable.  “As a player I always did.  I think a lot of it is you are playing for the people that don’t go to all of the away games.  You are playing for that community that really supports you.  There is just something about being on Chuck Huggins Field period. So, I hope that will play in our favor,” said Fraser.

 

Published 4/16/21

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South Central Beats Mapleton; Stays in FC Race

 

          Blane Wheeler picked up the win on the mound and added two hits and three RBI leading South Central to an (8-6) win over Mapleton in Firelands Conference action on Thursday evening.

          The Trojans (5-6,3-1) trail Norwalk St. Paul and Plymouth by a game in the conference standings.

          Coach Mike Perry says this was a big win for his team.  “It was very critical to get the win (Thursday) night, so we could kind of hold serve.  Mapleton is a very talented team, they hit the ball well.  We knew we would have our work cut out for us after getting down big and coming back and taking the lead (Wednesday) and then losing it at the end.  It was important in a lot of ways for us to win this one,” said Perry.

          Mapleton had won (12-11) in eight innings at their place on Wednesday.

          Perry says his team was determined on Thursday.  “They definitely came to play, they were focused from the very beginning.  We gave up a couple of runs in the first inning, but I don’t think they ever questioned they were going to win this game,” he said.

          The Trojans trailed (4-1) after two and half innings, but got three in the third to tie it and tacked on four more in the fourth.

          Karl Ferber also had two hits and three RBI for the Trojans.

          South Central plays Wellington and non-league game on Friday.  Perry says it should be a lot of fun.  “The funny thing is the coach at Wellington is a friend of mine.  They are a Lorain County team and I live in Lorain County.  I am really looking forward to it.  I coach a couple of Wellington kids on my summer team.  So, it is going to be a lot of fun,” he said.

          Then next week, the Trojans play Plymouth and Crestview in two home and home conference series.

          Perry says he is looking forward to it and believes his team in playing well right now.  “Next week with four conference games it is going to be important for us to come to play.  To tell the truth with the way we have been pitching the ball and getting some quality at bats all of the way through the lineup I am really liking where we are sitting right now,” said Perry.

 

Published 4/16/21

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Fredericktown Meets Highland Again

 

          Fredericktown fell from a share of first place with Highland in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference when they lost (4-1) to Scots on Wednesday.  They get a chance at some revenge when they host Highland on Friday in the rematch.

          Outside of Wednesday, the Freddies has really been hitting the ball well.  They 17 runs against East Knox on Tuesday and 11 on the Bulldogs last Friday in conference play.

          Coach Ryan Hathaway says they have been getting their timing back.  “We have been really happy with what we have been doing on offense.  Guys are starting to get their timing back from the year off, but it seems like they are starting to put it all together, especially at the plate,” he said.

          Hathaway says, yes, the game against Highland is important, but it is not going to make or break their season.  “It is an important one.  It is not the most important of the whole season, but it is definitely up there, that is how we are approaching the next game with them.  We just made too many mistakes on Wednesday.  When you get a team like Highland, I think it is the best team that I have seen in the six years that I have been at Fredericktown.  You just can’t give them extra outs and put extra baserunners on when you are playing a team like them,” said Hathaway.

          Hathaway emphasizes that they have to play with confidence on Friday.  He adds this is a team that’s going to get better as the season unfolds.  “You can’t be perfect, but you try to be.  You just have to have confidence that you are going to make plays and I think that is the thing that our guys are starting to come around to this season.  To face Highland early, I don’t know if we had full confidence facing Highland on Wednesday night.  We are starting to get there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “I think when this team gets to later in the season and we have a lot of games under our belt I am excited to see what happens.  We will try and get it figured out in time for (Friday) night.”

 

Published 4/16/21

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Clear Fork Stays in First Place

 

          Clear Fork buried Galion (19-3) on Wednesday to remain in a tie for first place with Marion Pleasant in the softball standings in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

          They lead River Valley and Ontario by two games after the Lady Vikings beat Ontario (14-8) on Wednesday.

          Lady Colts coach Jeff Gottfried feels the wins they had last week against River Valley set the foundation for their season.  “We have had a good start.  I would like to talk more about last week than this week within the conference.  Winning two games against River Valley, our first conference foes.  You don’t know what you have got, especially after having a year off with COVID stuff.  To win at home against them like we did 3-1, solid pitching and defensive effort and a couple of timely hits for us.  Then to go on the road back down to their place the next night and come away 4-3 winners and we were down 3-0 in that ballgame was certainly nice see with our kids and be resilient and be able to battle and come back and beat a pretty solid team in River Valley,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “This week, with Galion, they are definitely down with their players and their abilities.  We are still focusing on our pitching and defense more than anything else and right now we are doing things there pretty well.”

          Clear Fork also beat Galion (26-0) on Tuesday and Gottfried says that while it can be difficult to keep locked in they were able to work on some things.  “Absolutely it difficult to keep your focus.  We just try to stress to them that we still have to play to our level.  We worked on base running things.  We worked on some situational things on defense making sure people were in the right places.  Just talking about some little things that still need to happen.  Checking the outfielders out pre pitch when you are on the bases and doing different things like that regardless of the pitches you see.  If anything else it was almost like two days working on hitting changeups because that is all the faster they were coming in, normal changeup speed.  For some of our kids that is difficult to do even if you know it’s coming.  I felt our kids still played the way we play in our program and followed what we do for two days,” he said.

          Clear Fork (7-4,4-0) plays a tough non conference schedule too and that is a plus.  Gottfried adds this week also gave him a chance to give other players a chance to get in the game more.  “There are not a whole lot of breaks in our non conference schedule.   We have Ashland coming up at the beginning of next week.  We were supposed to play Bucyrus on Friday, but they have some COVID issues, so we found a game with Northmor and they are 5-2 or something like that right now, so they are a solid opponent and Plymouth on Saturday.  It was the nice the last couple of days to get some kids that are role players for us that don’t necessarily get a lot of at bats, pinch runner, pinch hitter type kids.  They got some looks that they normally wouldn’t get in regular games.  It was nice to give them that opportunity.  The one thing that I really, really like about our team is the way they get along.  They are very unselfish, very good chemistry, they just enjoy being around each other and it shows in the way they play and the success we have been having so far to start our season,” said Gottfried.

 

Published 4/15/21

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River Valley Outscores Ontario

 

          River Valley scored seven times in the first two innings and went on to down Ontario (14-8) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference softball game on Wednesday evening.

          Shelby Westler had an RBI single in the first and an RBI double in the second for River Valley.

          Assistant coach Katie Jividen ran the game on Wednesday for the Lady Vikings because head coach Phil Shepler was unavailable due to sickness.

          She says they got off the bus ready to play.  “Absolutely, our bats were hot.  We knocked their pitcher out in the second inning.  We came out ready to play,” she said.

          Ontario errors certainly helped the River Valley’s cause on Wednesday.  The Lady Warriors had nine errors.

          Coach Sean Snow says that is very uncharacteristic of them.  “You can’t make mistakes like we did against good teams like that.  I can almost tell you without looking at the stats that we made more errors than we have in the last 10 games we have played combined,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “When things are going really well, but a lot of times in this sport things fall apart and defensively it fell apart, but you can see that the girls don’t give up and I am proud of them for fighting back.  My pitcher threw well, we didn’t support her defensively.  Still proud of them and still pointing out the good things.”

          Freshman Autumn Taylor started the game for Ontario, but she lasted only an inning, and gave up six runs, four earned, on five hits.  She was replaced by sophomore Joselyn Frazier, who went the final six allowing, eight runs, four unearned on eight hits.

          River Valley (10-3,4-2) also beat Ontario (7-4,2-2) by a score of (10-9) on Wednesday.  They both trail Clear Fork and Pleasant by two games.

          Jividen says this was a big series for them after losing twice to Clear Fork last week.  “We talked about before we came in that this is one of the teams that is going to contend for the league and we have to come out and start strong and we did both nights,” said Jividen.

          Ontario trailed (11-0) going to the bottom the fourth, but responded with three in their half and scored in each of the final four frames to make it a game.  Catcher Kylie Snow highlighted the Ontario attack with three RBI.  The Lady Warriors scored three times in the bottom of the seventh and had a runner on when River Valley pitcher Laine Wooten struck out the final hitter.

          Westler and Bentley Auld had three hits for the Lady Vikings.

          Jividen says they gave a consistent effort on Wednesday.  “We never gave up.  We played hard the whole game and we finished when we needed to,” she said.

 

Published 4/15/21

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Ashland Beats Lexington in Pitcher’s Duel

 

          Ashland earned an Ohio Cardinal Conference win Wednesday over Lexington (2-0) behind a fine pitching performance by freshmen Luke Bryant.

          The Arrows trail “OCC” leaders Wooster and West Holmes by a game.  The Generals hammered Mt. Vernon (11-1) in six innings Wednesday.

          Bryant was masterful going six innings, allowing just one hit, walking one and striking out nine.

          Arrows coach Rick Gough says he surpassed their hopes for him on Wednesday.  “It was an outstanding performance.  You can’t ask mush more than that from your pitching staff.  We started a freshmen Luke Bryant on the hill (Wednesday) night.  He exceeded our expectations,” Gough told Swankonsports.com after the win.

          Gough says Bryant good stuff and he was able to keep ahead of the hitters.  “He was around the zone all night.  Coach Darren Hunt did an excellent job calling pitches and kept them off balance,” he said.

          Logan Fulk finished up for the Arrows throwing a scoreless seventh, striking out one.

          Lexington starter Cole Pauley and reliver Kevan Grimm were nearly as good for the Minutemen.  Pauley went the first five and together they only gave up six hits.

          Lexington coach Kevin Morrow was pleased with his pitching, but says they couldn’t get anything going at all on offense.  “Cole Pauley pitched an excellent game for us, but Ashland’s pitcher was even better.  We had no answers on offense,” he said.

          Two runs scored by the Arrows in the top of the third were the only tallies of the day.  Gough says they did it with some small ball.  “One aspect of our game right now is we are not hitting the ball as well as I think we are going to, so we have to scratch and claw and try and get a couple of runs here and there.  Chase Hunt got a good bunt down (Wednesday) night that scored a run.  We were lucky enough in a bases loaded situation to get a hit batsmen to get a run in and it held up,” said Gough.

 

Published 4/15/21

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St. Paul Stays Unbeaten in Firelands

 

          Norwalk St. Paul remained in a share of first place with Plymouth by belting Crestview (8-1) in a conference game at their place on Wednesday afternoon.

          Tyler Perkins was again outstanding for the Flyers (8-3,4-0) as he went all seven giving up no earned runs, only four hits and recording six strikeouts.

          St. Paul would erupt for six runs in the fourth inning to put the game on ice. 

          Jaycob Stanley, Adam Baker and Scotty Adelman had RBI singles and Luke Blum a two-run double.

          Coach Aaron Fries says they were able to get some key hits with runners in scoring position.  “We were able to put up eight runs (Wednesday) night, which was pretty good.  We put up five versus them (Tuesday).  (Wednesday) I just think we did a little better strategy wise.  We had a lot of stolen bases and were able to get guys in scoring position and then able to get them in.  (Tuesday) night we had a ton of opportunities with guys in scoring position and we just didn’t get that big hit.  In one inning (Wednesday) we put six runs up.  That obviously was enough, the two in the prior inning was enough.  That was certainly more than enough for Tyler,” said Fries.

          The Flyers had 10 stolen bases, five of them by Adelman.

          Perkins entered his start with a microscopic 1.11 ERA, the best in the conference, which is going to be lower after his start against the Cougars.

          Fries says Perkins pitched a little bit more to contact on Wednesday.  “He continues to impress.  Going into the year we thought obviously he was going to have a big year and he has certainly lived up to all of that.  His strikeout numbers were not as high (Wednesday) night, but he was very good and the defense behind him was very good, which was good to see because sometimes I think this year we haven’t played as good a defense behind him, but (Wednesday) we did a very good job of that.  Crestview put the ball in play and made us field it and we did a good job of that,” he said.

          St. Paul made only one error on the day and Fries says that was a step in the right direction after some problems in the field late in a (5-3) win at Crestview on Tuesday.  “(Tuesday) night we were sailing right along and in the sixth and seventh inning we had four errors there in the last two innings and basically gave them three runs and an opportunity to tie the game there.  They had the tying run at the plate.  Really it was nothing that they did.  For some reason we just lost a little confidence there.  It is a long season and that can happen, one mistake can turn into two and can cascade on you,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “It was good to see the kids bounce back.  I would say the defense was perfect almost.  The only mistake was had was Tyler on a little one out in front of the plate just overthrew first base, it allowed a guy to go to third and he eventually scored on a ground out.  Other than that, we were pretty good.  It was good to see because defensively you have to stay on things.  You can have events like that and it can start to snowball on you and go into other games.  We were able to stop that (Wednesday) night, so I felt really good leaving the field.”

 

Published 4/15/21

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Shelby Downs Harding; Climbs in “MOAC” Race

 

          Shelby has drawn to within a game of lead in the competitive Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference after a (10-7) win at Marion Harding on Wednesday evening.

          In other conference games, Galion beat Clear Fork (2-1) and River Valley handed Ontario its first conference loss (10-7) at Ontario.  Right now, Ontario leads Shelby, Clear Fork, Galion and Marion Pleasant by a game in the conference standings.

          Shelby had beaten the Presidents (10-0) on Tuesday.

          Coach Jon Amicone says the Whippets did what they had to in order to win the game.  “I was very proud of effort (Wednesday) night, it was a very gritty win and that what we told our guys after the game.  There were a lot ups and downs, a lot of lead changes.  You give Marion Harding a ton of credit.  After the game (Tuesday), they came back (Wednesday) and they were full of confidence and played extremely well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We were very fortunate to get some big hits at the end of the game and that gave us the lead.  They had the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh.  They pushed one across, but we were able to go to Blane Bowman and he was able to shut the door on them.”

          Amicone says they got some big performances on Wednesday form some kids that were forced into unfamiliar roles and they were ready.  “We have kind of gotten hit by the injury bug and some guys needed to step up in our lineup and they did a very nice job.  Luke Sheppard comes a hits cleanup for us and has three hits and four RBIs.  The bottom of our lineup did a really nice job with production.  We were able to push a run across late in the game running two bunts, we bunted a runner over to third and ran a squeeze to get him home and that was from our seven, eight and nine hitters to get that run across.  I was really proud that we found a way to score runs, especially in those really close games,” said Amicone.

          Amicone says it takes a lot of focus to be able to make those little plays that end up winning you games in the end.  “You work on things and doing it in practice, but doing it in the game when the pressure is on is two different things.  I was really proud of Doran Steele, our ninth place hitter to get the bunt down and run the squeeze and run it well.  It was a big run late in the game to tack on another one and give our pitchers a little bit of breathing room and a bit of comfort late in the game.  Those runs that extend leads are really key in high school baseball to put pressure on that other team to score more than one or two runs late in the game in kind of the name of the game,” he said.

 

Published 4/15/21

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Clear Fork Earns Big Win over Galion

 

          Clear Fork took the early lead and then put up a big three spot in the fifth and went on to beat Galion (6-2) on Tuesday and stay right there in the early season race in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

          They trail Ontario by a game in the conference standings.

          Clear Fork scored twice in the first inning on a single by pitcher Jared Scott, he moved up on a couple of wild pitches and scored on a RBI single by catcher David Ballinger.  The Colts then loaded the bases on walks to Luke Schlosser and Kaden Riddle.  Aaron Brown was hit by a pitch, forcing in Ballinger.

          In the third, second basemen, and leadoff hitter, Kaleb Hollar doubled down the leftfield line, stole third, and score when the Tigers misplayed the throw to third, making it (3-0) Colts.

          Clear Fork coach Joe Staab says his players were there to compete, especially when things got tighter later in the game.  “This was a great job of resilience by our players that we haven’t seen a lot of this year, but no better time to come out.  We put up a couple of runs on offense, but the biggest thing is we put up a zero in defense,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “When the game got close, we started tightening it up and playing even better baseball.  Our boys had a lot of energy and that is what it is going to take to win is everybody coming together.”

          Scott started and went the distance for the Colts.  He scattered six hits, walked three and struck out six, three of those strikeouts ended three of the last four innings, including Spencer Keller with two on in the seventh to end the game.

          Staab says Scott did what he was supposed to do.  “One thing we discussed with Jared is he is good enough to strike kids out, but that is not his job.  His job is to pitch to contact and throw the ball across the plate and strikeouts can be a byproduct of that.  He did a great job of pitching to contact and letting the defense play and when he did get behind, he came back and threw strikes,” said Staab.

          With Clear Fork leading (3-0) after three, Galion scored their only two runs of the game in the fourth on an RBI double by Troy Manring and RBI single by Luke Prosser.

          Galion stranded runners in both the sixth and seventh innings.

          Coach Neil Schafner says they had their chances.  “We didn’t get that key hit.  I thought we had good at bats and opportunities.  Defensively they made some good plays at the right time.  We were swinging at the right pitches and attacking the ball I thought.  It’s how baseball works they were stopping momentum when they needed to,” said Schafner.

          Staab believes one of those key plays came in the third when Hollar fielded a ball hit by Carter Keinath and tagged out Landon Campbell and threw Keinath at first for a double play to end the third.  “It was huge to get that tag and get that ball to first and anytime you can get two outs with one ball it is going to be a great day for your pitcher and your defense,” he said.

          Leading (3-2) going to the bottom of the fifth, the Colts would score three times.  DH Brock Talbott doubled off the rightfield fence with one out, Ethan Staley pinch ran for Talbott and he scored on a single by Schlosser, who advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a balk.  After two Galion errors and a couple more wild pitches, Ben Blubaugh, the Colts leading hitter on the season, plated the final run with an RBI single.

          Clear Fork (4-4,2-1) plays at Galion (6-3,3-2) on Wednesday in the rematch.           Staab hopes they can gain some needed confidence from the Tuesday’s win.  “Hopefully, one thing it does is it gives us confidence and it gives us a little energy to want to come out and play together as a team and win as a team.  Anything we want to accomplish this year is going to be by a join in by everybody we have in the dugout and everybody we have on the team.  I thought they did a great job (on Tuesday) and hopefully the next step is going forward,” said Staab.

 

Published 4/14/21

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Madison Rallies to Top Tygers

 

          Madison gave up three runs in the bottom of the first inning, but no more, and came up big late to beat rival Mansfield Senior (5-3) in eight innings in Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball on Tuesday afternoon at Arlin Field.

          Kade Mullins hammered a solo home run the top of the seventh to tie the score (3-3) and then the Rams got a two run hit from Jarrett Mandusic in their half of the eighth to get the win.

          Coach Nate Taylor says they showed some resiliency.  “It definitely didn’t start off that way.  We fell behind first inning 3-0.  We kind of talked to the guys we have to suit up and get after it here and start pushing a couple of runs across,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We chipped away and then Kade Mullins hit a game tying home run in the seventh.  Jarrett Mandusic singled in two more runs in the eighth to take the lead.  Hunter Church on the mound shut it down.”

          Madison (2-7,1-4) needs some momentum and Taylor hopes they can get some of that, especially with the way they had to dig down deep and get the win.  “You build on every possible thing that you can.  The easiest thing to build off of is obviously a win.  To do it the way we had to comeback and battle and scratch and claw, those are the things that kind of brings a team together and you can capitalize on down the road,” said Taylor.

          The rematch is Wednesday at Ram Field at Madison High School.  Taylor believes it’s a very important game for them, but he knows the Tygers (1-8,0-3) will be inspired to play and they better be too.  “Senior High is going to be ready to play (Wednesday).  They are going to have a bitter taste in their mouth.  They are going to show up ready to play.  It is going to be up to us to show up and do the same thing and hopefully take care of business,” he said.

 

Published 4/14/21

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Norwalk Beats Sandusky; Plays Vermilion Next

 

          Norwalk got back in the win column in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference with an (8-4) win at home over Sandusky on Tuesday evening.

          They trail Perkins by a game in the division standings.

          Sam Battles opened the bottom of the first inning with a double and Eli Obringer followed with an RBI double.  Ian Minor had a RBI single and the Truckers used some small ball to get a (4-1) lead after one.

          The Blue Steaks got back in the game and trailed (6-4) going to the bottom of the fourth.  Norwalk pushed two more across in their half of the fourth when Jessie Cole singled and Battles followed with another single.  They scored on a ground ball and a sacrifice fly.

          Coach Wes Douglas says it was a good way to start the game for them.  “We came out in the first inning, first pitch double, second pitch double, followed that with some small ball and got four runs in the first inning, pushed it out to 6-2, they cut it to 6-4 and it ended up 8-4.  So, it was a beautiful night for baseball and we played pretty clean defensively.  Got a win in the league and looking forward to a game at Vermilion (Wednesday),” said Douglas.

          Cole started and got the win, Obringer pitched the final three innings for a save.

          Norwalk (7-4,3-1) suffered their only loss in the division to Perkins (5-3) April 7 and Douglas says it was key to get back on the winning track on Tuesday.  “That was a tough loss.  We had one bad inning defensively.  They played cleaner than us and they put the ball in play a little bit better than us.  So, it was good to play solid (Tuesday),” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “I thought we had some really good at bats and extended some at bats and got some momentum going into a big week with Vermilion and Bellevue.  We are playing Defiance over at Bowling Green on Saturday.  So, it is a very good week to compete against some good teams.”

          The Truckers play at Vermilion (6-4,4-1), a (3-0) loser to Perkins on Tuesday, a big early season game in the Lake Division. 

          Douglas says they can’t afford to get too far behind.  “Perkins has a one game lead over us and Vermilion now, so whoever does not come out on top (Wednesday) will be two back in the loss column.  You are digging a little bit of a hole.  I don’t know what is going to end up winning the league.  We can’t afford to fall much farther behind than that.  We are going to need our best effort (Wednesday).  We have our top two pitchers both healthy and fresh.  So, we will go over there and compete and hopefully we will play well,” he said.

 

Published 4/14/21

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Ontario Pounds River Valley; Keeps First Place

 

          Ontario routed River Valley (14-6) on Tuesday to maintain first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference standings.

          They are unbeaten through three conference games and lead Clear Fork by a game, the Colts beat Galion (6-2) on Tuesday.

          The Warriors scored 10 runs over the last two innings to rally and get the win.

          Coach Jeff Fisher says they got some big hits and a lot of them were for extra bases.  “We had 13 hits and seven of them were doubles, but that really didn’t come until after the fifth inning, so it was one of those back and fourth games early.  We had a quality start out of Ryan Chapman.  It really wasn’t the nail in the coffin until the seventh,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “I was really happy to go on the road and claw out a win after a week where we found ourselves fighting each other on how to play the game the right way.  It was good to start the week on the right foot.”

          Colton Ramion had three hits for the Warriors.  Ryan Brophy and Jacob Barabani had two hits each.

          Fisher says they had to grind it out early in the game and you often have to do that in baseball.  “That is the nature of the game.  It’s a seven inning war.  You try to get to the bullpen.  We had that big five run sixth that chased the starter and we were able to extend the lead.  It is a long year and here we are and still young and have to find ways to win,” he said.

          Ontario (5-4,3-0) plays host to River Valley (3-5,1-4) in the rematch on Wednesday afternoon in “MOAC” play.

          Fisher says they are still seeking the consistency that they have been lacking in the early season.  “We are still seeking that consistency.  The lineup is starting to settle in a little bit and the pitching rotation hasn’t.  There are still some x’s there as we seek out some roles to go forward into (Wednesday).  This group has some baseball savviness about it.  We have put ourselves in a position here early that we control our own destiny.  I think it is important here that we continue to play fundamental baseball.  We have bulldogged the tough moments and were able to persevere and come out on top,” said Fisher.

 

Published 4/14/21

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Seneca East Stays in First

 

          Seneca East stays in a share of first place in the competitive Northern 10 Athletic Conference with a come from behind (9-6) win over Ridgedale on Tuesday evening in Attica.

          They are in a fist place tie with Colonel Crawford and Wynford.  The Royals beat Bucyrus (5-3) on Tuesday in conference play.

          Starting pitcher Turner Bridgford gave up six runs, three unearned, over the first two innings, but rallied to go the distance, striking out eight to get the win.

          Coach Rick Bowerman says Bridgford solved some mechanical issues and got better as the game went along.  “It was a gutsy performance by a senior pitcher.  Hs struggled the first couple of innings.  He wasn’t really sharp, but he kept battling.  He got better as the game went on.  I don’t think he let a runner past second base after the second inning, so I was very proud of him.  He did what a senior is supposed to do he gutted it out and worked on some mechanical issues early on and found his rhythm and pitched very well those last five innings,” said Bowerman.

          Trailing (6-2) after three innings, the Tigers (4-3,4-0) scored three in the fourth, took the lead with two more in the fifth on two run singled by ninth place hitter Matt Chappell and tacked on two more in the sixth.

          Bowerman says they weren’t ready to play early in the game, but they got more focused after getting behind.  “I think we are maturing as a team.  We have some young players and they are getting some varsity experience,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We got down early on I think, it was a matter of we beat them pretty handily on Friday, coming in thinking we are going to do it again, and they came in with a lot of excitement, jumped on us early, and we weren’t really playing with the excitement we needed to, but we found a way to get it done.  We chipped away, chipped away, and we finally got some momentum going and did what a mature team does and found a way to win.”

          Buckeye Central (2-9,2-4) is the opponent for the Tigers on Wednesday and Friday in league play.  Bowerman says they need to be ready from the get go.  “We have Buckeye Central coming up on Wednesday and Friday and they struggled early on and lost a lot of close games then their last two games they knocked off Mohawk, who is a pretty good team.  You can’t take anybody for granted in this league,” he said.

 

Published 4/14/21

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Colonel Crawford Maintains a Share of “N10” Lead

 

          Colonel Crawford stays in first place after recording two victories over Carey in Northern 10 Athletic Conference baseball on Monday and they did it was only two hits over the two games.

          In the game that was completed from Friday, Carey’s Ian Yeater threw a no hitter, but the Eagles scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings as the Blue Devils had three errors and won (2-1) behind Drayton Burkhart.

          Crawford coach Dan Gorbett says he has never really been through game like that has he has been a coach for a lot of years.  He says the goal is to win and that is what they did.  “That’s the bottom line.  When you win a game with no hits, I don’t think that has happened to me in 30 years as a head coach, but I’ll take it.  He just kept us off balance.  We didn’t strike out much, he just changed speeds and is a good pitcher even though he doesn’t have that blazing fastball, he did a good job against us,” he said.

          Burkhart permitted only four hits and struck out 10 on in game one.

          In the second game, the Eagles (8-0,6-0) beat Carey (14-2) and they got only two hits in that game.  However, Carey pitchers walked 12 Crawford batters.

          Gorbett says they found it tough to get in any rhythm at the plate, but they did what they had to win the game.  “We had some sac flies and we did some good things.  They were kind of out of pitchers.  So, when you get a game where you walk two batters in a row and there are not a lot of strikes being thrown it can be hard to get in your hitting grove,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We had good pitching and great defense in both games and found some ways to score some runs and win and that is the bottom line.”

          The Eagles only had one error over the two games.

          Colonel Crawford, Wynford and Seneca East all have no losses in the conference so far, the Eagles have played six league games, Wynford five and Seneca East three.  Wynford plays Bucyrus and Seneca East hosts Ridgedale in “N10” games on Tuesday, they were rained out on Monday.

          Crawford returns to conference play on Wednesday against Mohawk.

          Burkhart has won all four of his starts this season, three in conference games against Buckeye Central, Upper Sandusky and Carey, and leads the “N10” in strikeouts.

          Gorbett says they have gotten outstanding pitching this spring, including Monday.  “Drayton Burkhart came back (Monday) to pitch and he was really sharp.  All of his pitches where going.  In game two, the Hamilton bothers both pitched well.  Cade started and we pulled him, so he would be eligible for Wednesday.  His little brother (Brennan) came in and did an outstanding job.  So, our pitching was outstanding (Monday),” said Gorbett.

 

Published 4/13/21

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Northmor Beats Mt. Gilead Twice

 

          Northmor picked up two important wins in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference on Monday in beating Mt. Gilead (10-9) and (5-3) to keep themselves in the conference race.

          They trail Highland and Fredericktown by game in the conference standings.

          Coach Buck Workman says Monday was a rare opportunity.  “We don’t get a chance to do that very often unless it’s a Saturday.  Being able to pull out two on Monday makes it even nicer,” he said.

          The first game was started on Friday, stopped due to rain, and continued on Monday.

          Workman says they didn’t start on Monday very well in giving up five runs in the top of the fifth, but they were able to battle back.  “It didn’t start out so swimmingly for us.  We come out and we are up 5-4 and the next thing you know we are down 9-5.  We gave up five runs and that first inning that we start games has been giving us issues, but a tribute to my kids they never give up and they got right back in it and tied it up at nine in the bottom of the fifth.  Then we held them twice and were able to get a run across in the seventh to win it,” said Workman.

          Grant Bentley had a walk-off RBI single for the Golden Knights.

          Workman says one of the best things about these kids is their grit and determination.  “They don’t quit, I’ll give them that.  I would say in the eight games that we have won, we have been down in five or six of them and found a way to come back and get the job done,” he said.

          Jack Sears got the win in the second game for the Golden Knights (8-1,3-1) by going the distance in giving up only six hits and no earned runs.  Drew Hammond got the win in relief in the first game.

          Workman adds playing these games on Monday changes a lot of things, but his kids where prepared.  “You have to change your game plan and the way you do things.  You are getting out of the school a little sooner, you are kind of rushed.  A good majority of my kids have done this stuff, they have played some travel ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “We aren’t 8-1 if we don’t have the baseball I.Q. that some of these kids have.  We don’t have flame throwers out there on the mound, but we have kids that know the game and they find a way to get it done.”

          Max Lower had two hits in both games against Mt. Gilead.  They had nine hits as a team in the first game and 11 in the second.

          Workman says this team has found a bunch of ways to score runs this year.  “We have done a little of everything.  We have played some small ball, we’ll hit a away, and take walks and sometimes when people make mistakes on errors and what not.  It has just been a combination from game to game.  You just don’t know what is going to happen with us, but we find a way to score,” said Workman.

 

Published 4/13/21

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Buckeye Central Holds on to Beat Mohawk

 

          Buckeye Central won its first game Friday against Mohawk and they beat the Warriors again Monday (3-2) in Northern 10 Athletic Conference play to continue to build momentum.

          Kaiden Vaughn fired a five hitter on Monday, striking out 12 for the Bucks.

          Coach Chad Jensen says they knew they had to build on what they did on Friday.  “We knew that Mohawk is a very good team and we knew we would have to play our best.  We talked about not having any letup.  We had to play well and in fact we played better.  I couldn’t be more proud of our kids.  We got two runs in the first on a two-run double by Tommy Phillips, got a suicide squeeze in the second from Manny Mullins and Kaiden Vaughn pitched a heck of a game, a complete game, and struck out 12, and we didn’t have any errors.  It was just a great team win for us,” said Jensen.

          Jensen says Vaughn was just tremendous on Monday and they knew he has this kind of talent.  “Our league is tough. Alex Kanney has developed himself into our ace, but Kaiden Vaughn has had some injuries early in the season and hasn’t really pitched very much.  We felt he and Alex were both legitimate one type of pitchers.  So, he hasn’t pitched as much.  He felt good (Monday) and got the start and pitched like aces do.  We need to continue to keep him healthy.  He pitched lights out (Monday) night and I couldn’t be more proud of him,” he said.

          The Bucks (2-9,2-4) play Seneca East, one of the co-leaders in the “N10” along with Colonel Crawford and Wynford, on Wednesday and Friday.

          Buckeye Central has gotten good pitching this year and Jensen says Vaughn was a bulldog for them on Monday and made big pitches when he had to.  “Our pitchers keep us in games and we feel that gives us a chance.  I felt like when we got the 3-0 lead, I knew Mohawk was good, and Kaiden hung a curve ball Trey Combs hit one that hasn’t landed yet and he is a great player and had a really great night for them.  The key that we talked about was after he gave up the homer to Combs, he stuck out the next two,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “So many times over the years when the kid gives up a homer he hits the next guy or walks him on four straight or whatever and Kaiden didn’t do that.  In the seventh, the tying run was on first and Kaden was able to strike out the number two hitter to seal the victory.  So, it was just a lot of gut check from all out kids.”

 

Published 4/13/21

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Highland Stays on Top

 

          Highland maintained its share of the lead in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference by getting two wins over Cardington on Monday, one was a continuation of a game started Friday, but postponed due to rain.

          The Scots (8-0,4-0) share first place in the “KMAC” with Fredericktown, a game in front of Northmor.

          They beat the Pirates (22-0) behind Rider Minnick and (7-1) with Wyatt Groves getting the win.

          Coach Donnie Kline says those were two good wins.  “That is a pretty challenging Cardington team this year.  The boys jumped up on the early on Friday.  I don’t want to say that game was over before it was finished, but I think both teams knew where it was headed.  The second game was a real pitcher’s duel.  They threw their ace and we thew one of our aces and it was 0-0 going into the fourth.  It was a close game and eventually the boys stretched out the lead and made it a 7-1 game, but very good game,” said Kline.

          Kline says they have found an approach this year that is working for them and they are going to stay with it.  “We have preached to the boys this year, let’s keep it simple.  Let’s get them on, get them over and get them in and that seems to work.  Maybe with the kids we have this year, we don’t have as much experience as the teams we have had in the past.  We have had to simplify things and it seems to have really worked out for us so far,” said Kline.

          He adds that one of the big things a coach is charged with doing is finding what buttons to push.  “Every year is a different family.  Every year is a different culture.  Even a lot of times you have the same boys, but they develop different throughout the years.  Some of the kids spend some time in the summer developing their game and some others focus on some other sports.  Coming to together every year is kind of a challenge,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Without being able to play last year, we didn’t know what kind of family we were going to have this year.  So, for us to be able to put it together so far it has been a lot of fun and the boys have been playing some very good baseball.”

 

Published 4/13/21

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Colonel Crawford is Unbeaten

 

          Colonel Crawford has gotten off to a fast start to the season and right now they share the lead in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference with Bucyrus and Mohawk.

          They play Carey on Friday and Monday and then Mohawk in two games next week in conference play.

          Coach Sarah Fraser says she has a bunch of hard workers this spring and that is key.  “We are pretty good at every position and ultimately the girls they come in and work.  They don’t take any team lightly.  They think whatever team we play that night is best team in the area, that’s how they view things.  They are workers, they want to be the best and that has definitely helped us along the way,” she said.

          The Lady Eagles reached double figures in runs in beating Upper Sandusky twice this week (11-10) and (10-0) and they beat Buckeye Central (19-1), that’s a lot of runs.

          Fraser says they have a lot of depth in their batting order.  “We are pretty solid one through nine and we have some good speed.  We have some great slappers and bunters and we have five, six, seven girls that can hit for power.  So, we are very well rounded as far as everything goes.  Years ago, when I played it was definitely a base hit game.  Whoever had the most base hits scored the most runs or who could put the bunt down and it’s a lot different these days for sure,” said Fraser.

          Now, with the meat of their conference schedule remaining, things are going to get tougher for the Lady Eagles.  Fraser says they need to continue to get better, especially on defense.  “I think defensively we are really going to get tested with Carey coming up and Mohawk and Bucyrus, we have Riverdale coming up and Ridgedale all of the games we have coming up we are definitely going to be defensively tested, so I think we really need to zone in and tune in to our defense and make plays when they need to be made,” she told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We get up in a game and it is easy to relax on defense and have an error here or there, so we really need to focus in and make the plays 100 percent when we need to make them.”

 

Published 4/09/21

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South Central off to A Solid Start

 

          South Central has won four of its first six games this season and shares the lead in the Firelands Conference.

          They beat New London (10-0) and (19-7) in conference games on Monday and Tuesday.  They are in an early tie for first place in the conference with Norwalk St. Paul and Plymouth, who also swept their opening two games this week in conference play.

          Mike Perry is in his first year as the Trojans head coach and he says they are starting to swing the bats pretty well after a slow start.  “I think it has been our bats and our approach at the plate.  When we started out early with our non conference stuff we were pressing really bad and swinging at bad pitches, but they have really settled things down in the batter’s box, making better decisions and actually having a game plan when they are stepping up there to the plate,” said Perry.

          Perry says when you are new coach a lot of what you during the preseason and early in the regular season is get to know the kids and vise versa they get to know you.  “With this being my first year here they had to get to know me.  I had to get to know them.  Karl Ferber, my sophomore third basemen, first basemen, I was lucky enough to coach him in fall ball and travel, but a lot of these kids didn’t know me walking through the door, so it took a little time for us to get used to each other,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “I think one the big challenges they face getting back into high school mode is you are representing your school and that is important to me and they had to figure out my value system and how important it is for them to wear that uniform with pride because that’s what I’m all about them being proud of their school and representing it the right way.”

          South Central will host Norwayne of the Wayne County Athletic League in a non-conference game Friday, weather permitting.  They return to Firelands Conference action on Monday and Tuesday against Mapleton.

          Junior Sam Seidel has already committed to Bowling Green and his off to a great start this season.

          Perry says he is focused on improving as a player and that shows.  “Sam is a fantastic player, he never seems to have a bad at bat.  He never gives anything away on the field.  If you get him out, he makes you earn it.  He is always looking to get better.  When your best players are your hardest workers you know you are in pretty good shape.  No one is going to work harder at getting better at the game of baseball,” he said.

 

Published 4/09/21

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Lexington Boys’ Tennis Strong Again

 

          Lexington is historically the top tennis team in North Central Ohio and this season is no different.

          There are rated by the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association as one of the best squads in the Northwest district in division II, tennis has only two divisions as compared to sports like basketball or baseball that have four or football that has seven.

          Hall of Fame coach Ron Schaub says they have lofty goals.  “Our kids are really looking forward to playing this year.  We have goals of going to state and we are really excited.  We don’t have any seniors, but we have a couple of juniors that are really strong like Tommy Secrist, we have Ryan Mercurio, who has played a lot, we have Ross Drilik, who has played a lot.  We have guys like Carter Earick, Kevin Matney, we have some good sophomores like Joseph Litao.  We have got some really good freshmen in Karl Etzel and Ethan Ramey,” said Schaub.

          Having freshmen that play at a high level is not uncommon for the Minutemen, in fact Secrist and Mercurio were one step away from making it to the state in doubles two years ago.

          Schaub says many of these kids start playing at a very young age.  “Some of those kids get started when they are really young, like in first grade and stuff, so by the time they get to the ninth grade they may not be physically developed, but their games are pretty good and that is the way it is with Ethan Ramey and Karl Etzel right now.  Those kids are pretty developed,” he told Swankonsports.com, “They have played in a lot of USTA tournaments and in the summer.  Those kids are good players and even thought they may not be quite as strong as they will be their senior year, I have high hopes for those guys.  Tennis is not such a physical sport, it is more a skilled sport.”

          It is important to understand in tennis there are two postseason tournaments.  The Ohio High School Athletic Association runs an individual tournament that has singles and doubles play and the coaches association has a team tournament, which is like regular season play where there are three singles matches and two doubles with a point awarded for a win in each category.

          Schaub says by the time they get to tournament play, which in the team tournament is only three weeks away, they will now where they stand.  “Saturday, we play Columbus Academy and Wellington School out of Columbus, one is ranked one in the state and the other is ranked four in the state.  We also play Massillon Jackson, who is top ten in division I, we play Upper Arlington, we play Olentangy, we are playing Toledo St. Francis.  We will be well tested,” he said.

 

Published 4/09/21

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Mt. Vernon Demolishes Mansfield Senior

 

          On Wednesday at Arlin Field it looked like men against boys as Mt. Vernon, the Ohio Cardinal Conference leader, drilled Mansfield Senior (17-0) in an “OCC” game.

          The game was never in question, frankly, as Owynn Gleason started the game with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly and the Jackets never trailed.  They batted around in top of the second inning, scoring five times, highlighted by RBI hits by Gleason and Marcus Bradley.  The third inning was a like a bad rerun for the Tygers as Mt. Vernon batted around again, this time scoring seven more runs.  Bradley, Konner Daugherity, Zach Mullins, Logan Trace and Caden Rowland all drove in runs with hits.  Meanwhile, Bradley, who started the game for the Jackets struck out seven of 10 batters he faced.  It was (14-0) Mt. Vernon after three.

          Although, they ended up winning Tuesday (15-5), Mt. Vernon coach Nate Hunt says it was a better effort by them on Wednesday.  “Playing Mansfield Senior, they came to Mt. Vernon Tuesday ready to go and I think our guys were kind of not ready and it is a lesson learned for the season for the team.  We have a good group of kids.  So, I told them I want to challenge them.  I don’t even care if you get down 3-0, you have to get your pitch and get your swing and get ready to go and I think we have taken pride in that in the past and we kind of took a step back and it was a lesson learned,” said Hunt.

          With five errors and five strikeouts looking, Mansfield Senior looked confused at times and coach J.R. Davis was disappointed in their effort.  “The biggest thing is I see so much potential in these guys and just coming out and laying an egg and not caring that is the biggest thing,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “I think these guys can change Mansfield and the way we are viewed.  Obviously, Mt. Vernon is very good and I knew that coming in.  I knew it was going to be tough, but (Tuesday) we started out 5-0 against them.  We can compete with teams, but we have to believe it.  Now, we just have to change that mentality every day that we get down a couple of runs and it’s over.”

          Mansfield Senior (0-6,0-2) plays Crestline on Friday and meets Madison in their “OCC” series next week.

          Mt. Vernon showed gap power on Wednesday as Gleason, Daugherity, Ethan Laslo and Carter Carpenter all had doubles.

          Tyger pitchers also walked eight batters, but Hunt says they were able to stay patient.  “It really shows the difference between a good hitter and a great hitter.  If you can go 3-0 and say I am still looking for my fastball, or not even the fastball, I’m looking for something off speed and try and take it that way, it truly shows the difference between a good and a great hitter,” he said.

          Mt. Vernon (6-1,4-0) leads Wooster and West Holmes by game in the conference standings.  They play Wooster, probably the preseason favorite in the conference, on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. 

          Hunt says it is a great opportunity for them.  “I think the cliché thing would be to just focus on what is next.  Conference wise we have put ourselves in a good position.  Wooster is a good baseball team.  I was just telling the guys, if you don’t wake up next Tuesday just ready to go, goose bumps the entire day for the opportunity that you get, because not everybody gets it.  Wake up ready to go on that day because what a time to be in Mt. Vernon, what a time for baseball.  We have said it before, you know how easily it can be taken away.  So, now you are in the driver’s seat to say this is our conference to take and let’s take it,” said Hunt.

 

Published 4/08/21

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Madison Belts West Holmes Again

 

          Madison beat West Holmes for the second time in as many days (13-4) at Madison on Wednesday afternoon in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

          They Lady Rams had beaten them (14-5) at West Holmes on Tuesday.

          After losing twice to rival Lexington last week, coach Tim Niswander says they headed in the right direction.  “We are getting better.  Obviously, we are a lot better than we were a week ago at this time and hopefully we continue to improve.  Bailey Lyons, our number one pitcher, is back.  She is starting to feel much, much better.  That obviously doesn’t hurt.  It took her a little bit to get back in the grove, but I think we are starting to see that now.  The bats have come alive, we have hit the ball really well the last couple of days,” he said.

          Like a lot of schools, Madison is dealing with a lot of kids that have not played very much high school softball before this year, if any.  Niswander says they are kind of learning on the run.  “Things are not all bad, but there is still a lot to work on though.  My assistant coach Tim Carper described it (Wednesday) and it was the words I have been looking for that I really couldn’t really put my finger on with this group.  He said it’s immaturity.  When you hear that word, you think of kids being goofy and things like that and it is not that at all.  They are just not grown up and they don’t understand things and we are trying to fast track that process and get them up to speed.  It has taken some time, but we are getting there and the results are starting to show a little bit.  Hopefully, we can take that this weekend into Clyde, to Clear Fork Monday and Senior High Tuesday and Wednesday and hopefully we can keep things rolling a little bit,” said Niswander.

          With not having a season last year, Niswander says the younger players on this team missed more than just time on the field, but also the chance to learn about the sport from those that had experienced it.  “I only have two seniors on my team, but when they were freshmen, we won a district title and went to the regionals and we had kids like Mackenzie Mullins and Morgan Russell and Egypt Murphy were on that team and they got an opportunity to be around those kids all of time.  The class above them was the team last year that didn’t get their senior year and there were two division one players on there, so they have experienced a lot of different players that they have played with.  They have seen things, both good and bad.  They understand when we talk to them about certain things that we need to see about their approach and what they should be thinking about on every pitch on offense and defense.  They understand what those things are like and what those kids did.  They were around them and got to see those things and were part of that.  It is information that is just invaluable that we can’t teach it is something they picked up by being around those group of kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “Well, I have three sophomores and three freshmen that are starting that have never played with anybody, so it is all new to them.  That is something I always thought was important, but I didn’t realize how important it was and those two seniors that I have been able to experience softball with all of the kids that they have had big successes in our program and have gone on to college and had success is just something this group has missed and it is irreplaceable.  It is something they will never get to experience, but hopefully they have picked things up well enough that they can pass that knowledge on to groups that are coming behind them.”

 

Published 4/08/21

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Colonel Crawford Takes Apart Upper

 

          Colonel Crawford kept its share of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference lead as they torched Upper Sandusky (14-1) in a conference game on Wednesday at Upper.

          The Eagles, Wynford, Mohawk and Seneca East are all unbeaten early in the season.

          Colonel Crawford (6-0,4-0) plays Carey on Friday in their next “N10” contest.

          On Wednesday, Cade Hamilton got the start for the Eagles and coach Dan Gorbett says he was in command.  “Cade Hamilton has really made some big jumps from the mound.  He was outstanding (Wednesday), four hits and two of them were infield hits, he had eight strikeouts in four innings.  We brought in Jake Hoffman to pitch the fifth inning.  He had all of his pitches and I think he had one walk, so really happy with is performance,” he said.

          When they got in the batter’s box, Gorbett says they have had the best game hitting the ball they have had all spring.  “Offensively, early in the season, we were leaving a lot of guys on base and (Wednesday) we were getting key hits, sac flies real good discipline at the plate, we had a lot of walks.  With two strikes, we were fouling off those borderline pitches and we would get ball four.  Offensively, this was as good as we have looked all year.  One through nine we were making things happen,” said Gorbett.

          Gorbett has said all season that this team is capable to breaking out offensively and he says that is clearly starting to happen.  “I could see the confidence is their eyes when they come up to home plate a little bit more relaxed.  I kept telling them hitting is contagious, once we start going, we will be fine and that’s what has happened the last two games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We actually went down 4-2 and then we came back with like seven rungs in the next inning.  That was the first time we were down all year and I was glad to see how we responded.  We didn’t like it and went up there and hit the ball and scored seven runs.”

          Crawford also plays two against Mohawk next week and Gorbett says they have to continue to hit the ball like they did on Wednesday.  “I think we have been counting on our pitching and our defense has been solid.  It is hard to put into words, we didn’t have that grit and desire of let’s go get it when it came to scoring runs and offense.  I think we have turned the corner there.  Hopefully, we can stay hot as (Wednesday) we really looked good,” he said.

 

Published 4/08/21

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Northmor Rallies Past Centerburg

 

          Down by six runs early Northmor recovered to beat Centerburg (14-9) in a Knox Morrow Athletic Conference game on Wednesday evening.

          On the strength of two home runs by Joe Tepper, the Trojans took and (8-2) lead after just an inning and half, but the Golden Knights were resilient and fought back right away with a six spot to take a (9-8) lead.  Grant Bentley doubled in two runs, two more scored on walks and two more on fielder’s choices.

          Coach Buck Workman says his kids didn’t hang their heads and kept fighting, something that has defined this team so far this this spring.  “We were down 3-0 in the first and tied it up and went down 8-2 in the second and came back and took a 9-8 lead.  That is one thing about our guys is I don’t think they are ever going to quit on us.  They are always going to give you quality at bats and try and get us back in the game.  We got into a little bit of a hole there early and kept digging out,” said Workman.

          The Golden Knights (5-1,1-1) put it away with a five spot in the bottom of the fifth, highlighted by RBI hits by Bentley and Andrew Armrose.

          Drew Hammond pitched five and third innings of two hit relief to get the win for Northmor giving up no earned runs.

          Workman says this team has shown they can battle adversity and be successful.  “We started out really nice, 4-0, and then we had that little slip up there on Monday to Centerburg when we didn’t play really good defense, we didn’t throw as many strikes as we have been throwing, he hit a few batters and put ourselves in a bind, and lost 11-6, but the way they bounced back (Wednesday) was good to see,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “You have to have that short memory.  It is not like football where you have to wait a week.  We only had to wait two days to get out there and get on the horse.  With what Centerburg did to us early in this game, my kids had every opportunity to say this isn’t working out and we will pack it in, but they did not do that and I was ecstatic about the way they bounced back.”

          Northmor hosts Mt. Gilead in their next conference game on Friday.

          Workman says they don’t have a lot of experience this year, but he believes they have a good mix of talent.  “I think we have a pretty good mix.  When we say young, I think we mean young in terms of varsity experience.  We are starting a lot of juniors and a couple of seniors, but we have a couple of freshmen that have been carrying a heavy amount of the load on the mound.  So, it is nice to have that mix.  I think the combination is just boating well for us right now,” he said.

 

Published 4/08/21

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Wynford Rips Buckeye Central

 

          Wynford scored seven times in the seventh inning and belted Buckeye Central (18-2) in Northern 10 Athletic Conference action on Wednesday afternoon.

          They share first place in the conference with Colonel Crawford, who beat Upper Sandusky (14-1) on Thursday and Seneca East, who downed Carey (4-1) for their second straight win, and Mohawk, who beat Ridgedale (15-4) on Tuesday.

          Spencer Miller was outstanding for the Royals as he went the distance allowing only five hits and his defense had only two errors.

          Coach Tom Smith says the Royals are really hitting on all cylinders.  “We are really pleased starting 4-0 in the league.  Freshman Spencer Miller threw a compete game and was excellent,” he said.

          Eight of the nine starters had at least one hit against Buckeye.  The bottom two in the order really stood out as number eight hitter shortstop Dylon Robinson had two hits, including a double and three RBI and ninth place hitter sophomore Sam Collene added two hits, also including and double, and drove in five runs.

          Smith says they are seeing the ball well.  “We are hitting the ball one through nine right now.  We don’t have anybody that is not putting the ball in play.  I think we only had three strikeouts on the day.  We are putting the ball in play and good things happen when you do that,” said Smith.

          Wynford (4-2,4-0) plays at Bucyrus (2-2,2-1) on Friday in an “N10” game, the Redmen beat Ridgedale (6-1) on Wednesday.

          Smith they are doing a lot of things well, but it’s not like they are perfect either.  “We have trouble chasing down foul balls down the sidelines and behind the backstop.  We made a couple of plays (Wednesday).  We have some things to work on with defense there.  We are still struggling with pitching depth right now,” he said.

 

Published 4/08/21

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Lady Colts Get Huge Win Over River Valley

 

          Hallie Gottfried belted two home runs driving in all three runs and Ashtynn Roberts scatted five hits and allowed one unearned run as Clear Fork beat River Valley (3-1) Tuesday afternoon in a game between anticipated contenders in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

          After giving up an unearned run in the first inning, Hallie smoked one over the centerfield fence to give the Lady Colts a (2-1) lead.  She added some insurance with a solo shot in the fifth.

          River Valley had won six of its first seven games and coach Jeff Gottfried says the win was huge for them.  He says they did a lot of things well.  “River Valley is always a solid program, solid team, their pitcher handled us well, fortunately we had one kid that saw the ball pretty well and believed in herself.  We had solid pitching,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Defensively, made a couple of mistakes, but the pitcher got stronger when that happened and that is what we have been trying to focus on and not allow one mistake turn into two and she did a nice job battling.”

          Coach Gottfried says his daughter’s home run in the first took a little pressure off his inexperienced team.  “We gave up a run in the top of the first, an unearned run, and we got on base with the first batter with an error on their third baseman and Hallie followed a nice rip to centerfield to give us a lead.  It helped us relax a little bit.  Sometimes you can press if you give up a run you shouldn’t early on.  It is a seven inning game and we knew at 2-1 that wasn’t going to be enough and fortunately we got another run late on another home run by Hallie,” said Gottfried.

          Renee Anders had two hits and Reghan Barker a single for the Lady Colts (3-2,1-0) on Tuesday.

          Roberts was outstanding for Clear Fork in going the distance, striking out eight.  Her defense backed her up in making only one error after the first inning.

          Gottfried says this was clearly Roberts best performance of the season so far in showing what she is capable of.  “Ashtynn has pitched five games for us this year and this was her best outing, no doubt about it.  She was in command hitting her spots and mixing speeds well enough to keep them off balance.  Just moving the ball in and out and keeping the ball down, so she got ground balls.  In our field here, the ball has a tendency to fly.  If you get some ground balls you give yourself a chance,” he said.

 

Published 4/07/21

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Clear Fork Blasts River Valley in “MOAC” Opener

 

          Clear Fork never trailed in overwhelming River Valley (13-3) in six innings in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Tuesday evening at American Legion Field in Bellville.

          Coach Joe Staab feels it was the Colts (2-3,1-0) best performance of the season so far.  “(Tuesday) we felt like we put it all together in a lot of phases of baseball.  We pitched it to contact and played defense behind good pitching.  We hit the ball hard and ran the bases hard.  We brought the game to them and good things happened and it swung in our favor,” said Staab.

          In first inning Kaleb Hollar was hit by a pitch, stole a base and scored on an error.  Clear Fork scored four runs on three hits in the bottom of the third to make it (5-0) after three.  River Valley looked like they might make it interesting in the fourth when they scored three times on five hits and stranded runners on second and third.  Hollar would have none of that as he hit the first pitch of the bottom of the fourth over the leftfield fence for a solo homer and that led to Colts sending 12 guys to plate and scoring six times to make it (11-3) and things were never in question after that.

          Staab says they were able to hit the ball consistently hard all day.  “I think we did a good job of getting the next base hit and that is kind of what we saw (Tuesday) was how the hitting was contagious with our guys,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We had a guy come up and hit the ball hard and get on base, even if there was an error, and the next guy was hungry to do the same.  Hopefully, that is getting something clicking with these boys to want to play together and play to win.”

          Colts had eight hits, including three by senior rightfielder Ben Blubaugh and two by junior shortstop Jared Scott.

          River Valley (0-4,0-3) did not help itself with seven errors on the day, many in clutch situations.

          Starter Kaden Riddle and relivers Luke Drockton and Luke Schlosser scattered seven hits, five coming in one inning.

          Staab says they aren’t overpowering, but they can throw multiple pitches for strikes.  “I think in different years compared to this year.  We don’t have the power pitching that we have had in the past with guys that that could throw pretty hard.  We have guys that can throw more pitches for strikes and if we are playing defense behind them, they will be successful,” he said.

          The rematch is Wednesday at River Valley and Staab says they have to come out focused.  “Coach Mark Lind, our assistant coach and pitching coach, said the hardest thing to do after you run rule a team is to come out and win, so we have to make sure we bring a focus because we know they are not going to take it lightly and they are going to bring it.  So, we have to make sure we are focused to play the game like we haven’t played them yet,” said Staab.

 

Published 4/07/21

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Hillsdale Rallies to Beat Dalton

 

          In a battle between contenders in the Wayne County Athletic League, Hillsdale scored eight runs in the final two innings to win (10-7) at Dalton on Tuesday evening.

          The big blow was a three run home run by Ty Williams to give the Falcons (7-0,3-0) in the lead in the top of the seventh.

          Coach Jason Snow says this was a tremendous win for his team, especially in the fashion that it happened.  “It was a great experience for our kids.  We fell behind 6-2 going to the sixth inning.  Our pitchers battled and we hung in.  We got a big three spot in the sixth inning and ended up putting five on the board with Ty Williams hitting a three run homer in the seventh to give us the lead and man our kids were fired up,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Just a lot of young kids hadn’t been in those situations yet and early on we struggled with it.  We struggled throwing strikes and didn’t make a few plays and heads wend down a little bit early in the game.  Whether we win that game or not when we battled back to 6-5 that was a positive, but to get over the top was just huge for our kids at this point.”

          Ethan Goodwin, Caden Fickes and Mark Abel all had two hits for the Falcons.

          Dalton (3-2,2-1) led (5-0) after two innings, but Hillsdale wouldn’t go away.

          Snow says it was a great learning experience for his young team.  “With a lot of those kids you almost take a year off with not playing last year.  We had one senior on the field, four sophomores, four juniors and a freshman.  They haven’t been in this spot before.  There is a big difference on the JV level or playing club ball and all of that.  Dalton was fired up, they got off to a big early lead.  It was a big game for both of us to try and get that first one before we play (Wednesday).  I don’t want to say take the pressure off because we need to try and get two of them, but going in (Wednesday) is little easier with that win rather than coming in in a must win situation after losing the first game,” he said.

          Williams is the only senior on the ballclub that played in the state final four in 2019 and Snow they are going to lean on him a little bit.  “He had a couple of rough at bats early in the game.  We left some runners on.  In the seventh, we set the table for him.  Our nine hitter Jax Rogers got a base hit to start that ninth inning.  We got an infield hit from our leadoff hitter (Ethan Goodwin), just a hustle play, to make it first and second.  He got one and it was a big spot for him and that is what we expect from him.  We expect big hits.  He is our lone returner who has been in this before.  We got two more runs, we added on behind him and picked up some big hits.  It really kind of got our kids going and relaxing a little more in saying we can do this.  Hopefully, we will feed on that down the road and to know we can make plays.  We are always in the game with our bats right now,” said Snow.

 

Published 4/07/21

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Shelby Gets Needed Win

 

          Shelby got the win they needed to have to stay in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference race as they doubled up Marion Pleasant (14-7) on the road in a conference game on Tuesday evening.

          The Whippets scored 11 runs in the first three innings, including six in the third.  It was the third time this season they have scored at least six runs in an inning in a league game.

          Coach Jon Amicone says it was a huge win for them.  “We made our bead and we had to lay in it.  We have an uphill battle to climb.  It was good to get that first step.  Now, it’s about us trying to piece wins together when playing those league teams.  The was a big step because it was the first step for us,” he said.

          Shelby (4-2,1-2) had 14 hits on the day, four of them by Marshall Shepherd, the starting pitcher, and three by leadoff hitter Blaine Bowman, who had two doubles and scored four runs.  Shepherd drove in four runs.  He also went five innings to get the win, giving up eight hits and striking out nine.  He threw 95 pitches, 63 for strikes, which was better than his outing last week against Ontario.

          Amicone says they are getting in good counts at the plate and driving the ball.  “We did a really nice job of having production at the plate.  We are having good approaches, the mental side of the game, we are hitting fastballs in fastball counts and that is what we are trying to preach and talk to our guys about,” he said.

          Shelby made three errors on the day and Amicone says that was a step in the right direction.  “The bottom line is you have to be able to field the baseball.  We are not doing that at a very good rate right now and there are things we need to continue to work on.  The biggest difference (Tuesday) night was we didn’t let it snowball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “We had an error in the first inning and against Ontario it just kind of snowballed from there.  (Tuesday) night I was really proud of our guys to fight back after that error let in a few runs and showed a little more resolve.  It showed me that they are willing to fight back a little bit.”

          You have to be able to play bad hops on high school fields and Amicone says you have to have solid mechanics.  “I think if you take the right mechanics of a ground ball and get a good read on it that should kind of take that out of it.  Ontario always has a beautiful baseball field and we take pride in our field too.  I thought we did a better job (Tuesday) of the mechanics of taking ground balls, taking them off the left eye and having good glove angles.  Those little intricacies that not a lot of people talk about.  Our guys did a really nice job of that approach of doing the little things to field the ball properly,” said Amicone.

 

Published 4/07/21

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