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  Joining us this morning on “Sports Saturday” are HS boys’ basketball coaches Tim Braford of Clear Fork, David Sheldon of Colonel Crawford, Ed Rich of Bellevue, Nick Coon of Mt. Vernon and Chris Armstrong of Madison.  Girls BB coach Natalie Lantz of Shelby.  “A Few Moments of the E.D.” with Doug Ute as we talk about helping HS athletes with their mental health.  Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports talks the Guardians, the Browns, and more of her favorite books.  The show runs from 10 AM to 1 PM on www.swankonsports.com.  Don’t forget to click on the listen line at the top of the page for audio.  
     
 

Edison to Play for State Title After Another Extra Inning Win

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Sean Hoover

 

          Edison is a baseball team that plays with incredible intensity and yet patience and that played out again Thursday night as the Chargers outlasted Roger Bacon (3-0) in eight innings to a division III state semifinal played at Canal Park in Akron.

          They have win three extra inning game in tournament over the last two years.

          They return to the Rubber City on Saturday to face Waynedale of the Wayne County Athletic League for a state title.  The Golden Bears beat Liberty Union and likely major league draftee Jacob Miller (5-3) in Thursday’s other semifinal.

          Coach Sean Hoover says his team found a way to overcome.  “It was just back and forth with zeros on the board for seven innings.  You can get frustrated with loss opportunities throughout the game, but our guys didn’t do that.  I know we went out and did the right things on the mound and defensive wise to hold them to the same zeros and we were finally able to break through in the eighth inning,” said Hoover.

          Lefty Thomas Simon went the first seven inning and Hoover says he battled and was able to get out of some jams and keep Roger Bacon off the scoreboard.  “He was awesome.  He made a lot of big pitches, especially with guys in scoring position for them.  A lot of big “K’s” in those situations,” he said.

          With the game still scoreless in the bottom of the sixth, Roger Bacon tried to score a sac fly, but centerfielder Bryce Michaelis gunned they down at the plate and it wouldn’t be they last big play he would make.  “It was a shallow fly ball to center and they tested his arm and he threw a laser right to the plate.  That was a big out of us to end the inning,” said Hoover.

          It was still all zeros through seven until Edison finally broke through to get on the board with a clutch hit from Michaelis.  Hoover says that relieved a little of the tension for them.  “We got a leadoff single by Haden Fry and Noah Smith laid down a nice bunt and their pitcher kind of bobbled it and that gave us two guys on.  We bunted again to get them both into scoring position.  Bryce Michaelis came up with a big hit by third base to kind of break the ice,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Xander Danner hit a hard ball that third basemen made a great play on, but threw it kind of quicky to home.  He had a little more time that he thought he did.  It was a high school kid making a great play, but it was a little wide at home and we were able score two runs on that throw.”

          Ben Bates got the save for the Chargers by working a scoreless eighth.

          As for Waynedale, Hoover believes his team is going to have to score some runs to take the trophy home.  “I have not had a lot of time to look into them.  They played really will (Thursday), they hit up and down the order.  I think we are going to see a lefty on Saturday.  Their number two is a lefty.  The kid that came in pitched at the end of the day (Thursday).  They hit the best pitcher in the State of Ohio.  We are going to have to be ready to go and have our hitting shoes on I have a feeling,” said Hoover.

 

Published 6/10/22

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Click here to listen to comments from coaches on Ryan Teglovic

 

 
     
 

Edison Downs Fredericktown in Extra Innings

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Sean Hoover

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Ryan Hathaway

 

          With aid of a balk and an error, Edison scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning and they rallied to beat Fredericktown (5-4) in a division III regional semifinal on Thursday evening at Elida Middle School.

          The Chargers return on Friday to face Ottawa Hills for a regional title.  The Green Bears beat Pemberville Eastwood (5-1) in Thursday’s first semifinal.

          Fredericktown, the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference champ, scored three times in the first inning off Edison ace Thomas Simon.  With one out Kaid Carpenter singled.  Then with two outs Jackson Doup singled and Luke Bean drove home the first run with a hit.  Xavier Mullins walked and Braden Sapp followed with a two run single.

          Edison, the “SBC” Bay Division winner, got two in the bottom of the fourth when with two out, Dominic Dymond reached on an error, Hayden Fry and Noah Smith walked, and Brady Barker got an RBI hit driving in Dymond and Fry scored when the ball was thrown away by the Freddy infield.

          However, Fredericktown responded to make it (4-2) in the top of the fifth when Brady Lester doubled inside the bag at first and scored on Carpenter’s sacrifice fly.

          Edison tied it in their half of the fifth when Xander Danner reached on an error, Thomas Simon singled and Dymond singled him home.  They tied it on an error by the third baseman, scoring Simon.

          Simon was replaced by Ben Bates after seven and likewise Carpenter, the Fredericktown starter, was replaced by Ben Mast after seven.

          In the bottom of the eighth, Barker got a one out single.  He got to second when Blake Simon chopped one in front of the plate and was thrown out at first by Mast.  He was then balked to third and scored when the Freddies were unable to handle an infield roller hit by Bryce Michaelis.

          Edison coach Sean Hoover says they got behind early, but they kept plugging away and eventually made the plays they had to make.  “We have been down early before, so we did a good job of chipping away.  We were able to hit balls hard enough, I guess.  They helped us out with a few errors there to extend some innings.  I told the guys we don’t necessarily have to hit ball hard, we just have to make them make plays,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “Make a little contact and see what happens.  Blake got Brady up to second.  He didn’t hit it 40 feet, but he made them make a play.  He got a guy in scoring position.  When you just need one hit to win the game that is a big at bat to move him over there.”

          Fredericktown made five errors in all, all of Edison’s runs were unearned, and coach Ryan Hathaway says you can’t do that in the regional tournament.  “We just didn’t make enough plays defensively.  We gave them too many opportunities.  They scored probably all of their runs with two outs if I had to look back on it now.  We fought the whole game and tried to stick with them.  We just couldn’t get one across in the late innings,” he said.

          Carpenter was dominate early in the game, retiring the first 11 batters. Hoover says they tried to get him out of his rhythm.  “He went nine up and nine down and then we loaded them up in the fourth and he started to tire a little bit.  We made him throw from the stretch and feel a little pressure.  He was just free and easy.  He was working slow, he was working quick, he was trying to quick pitch.  He was doing a good job of messing up our timing early.  I think later we called timeout in the box a little more to make sure we were ready making sure our hitters were in there and not getting quick pitched.  We kept the pressure on.  We were able to get it tied and pull it out,” said Hoover.

          Hathaway says Edison got some clutch hits.  “After they saw Carpenter a couple of times around it seemed like they started to figure him out a little bit.  We let them on there with two outs multiple times.  You give any team life when you are at this point in the tournament, they are going to capitalize on it, they are a good team,” he said.

           A big key, according to Hoover, was laying off Carpenter’s curveball.  “I think we swung at too many curveballs in those first two innings.  We have tried to work on not swinging at those too early in the count.  We didn’t do a great job of that the first three innings.  He really wasn’t throwing any curveballs over for strikes.  The only strike he threw over the plate to the first three innings was a called strike three on the seven hitter, that was the only curve he threw over the plate.  He bounced every other one on the dirt.  So, we were a little more patient.  We went back to stuff we worked on early in the year bringing us fastballs so we can barrel them up and we did a better job of getting some guys on base,” said Hoover.

          When it comes to Ottawa Hills on Friday, Hoover says they are what you would expect at this level and they will have to play well.  “They are obviously a very good team.  I don’t really know a lot about them.  I watched hit the ball really well against Eastwood.  They pitched well, they played good defense.  They are what you expect in a regional finals opponent.  We will have to come out and battle and be ready to go,” he said.

 

Published 6/03/22

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Fundamentals Key in Columbian Win over Defiance

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Curt Mellott

 

          Tiffin Columbian used great pitching and timely hitting to beat Defiance (1-0) in a division II regional semifinal played on Thursday afternoon at Carter Park in Bowling Green.

          Senior Carson Mellott threw the shutout and had the only RBI hit of the game for the Tornadoes, who play Akron Hoban Friday, again at Carter Park, in the regional final.  Hoban beat Sandusky Perkins (8-0) on Thursday.

          Coach Curt Mellott says it was just a great baseball game.  “It was such a great game on both sides.  Both teams had phenomenal pitching, phenomenal defense, some diving plays, some balls that we thought might get to the gap were caught.  We had they one big, timely hit when we needed it and were able to close the door at the end.  All of the credit goes to the kids, they were just amazing,” he said.

          Mellott says Carson was outstanding again and he had great defense behind him.  “We were just able to stay ahead in counts for the most part.  We had a little bit traffic on the base paths, but Carson was able to pick off two runners, might have had a third if we would have gotten the throw down at second base.  That kind of helped alleviate some of their run game, which is something they have always relied heavily on.  We fielded the bunts when we needed to and just made routine plays,” said Mellott.

          Defiance has been ranked number one in the state in the statewide coaches poll and they are a team that likes to be aggressive.

          Mellott says they were able to take advantage of that.  “We had a lot of discussion leading into this.  Just talking about what they like to do in terms of the run game.  We know Defiance in playing them for a number of years during my coaching career.  Just how they can take advantage of you by seeding you up.  Like clockwork, the first guy that gets on base, he goes on the first move and we have him picked off.  That kind of set the tone for us that we know what is coming,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “So, a couple of times later when they tried that, we picked two runners back to back.  We threw behind a guy from the outfield and got a big one and got a few out there.  Those little things that Defiance typically does we took advantage of.  I felt our guys where just a half step ahead.  Thank goodness we were able to take care of some of those mistakes and capitalize on the defensive end.”

          They only run of the game came in the fourth inning and Mellott says again it was fundamentals that were a factor.  “We got that because of things we really preach.  Gunther Kissell, our leadoff hitter, on a 1-2 pitch, wears one on his shoulder.  Bryce Roggow comes up and lays done a beautiful bunt that we thought might me a hit down the third base line and their third baseman had a great play on the run.  With two strikes, Carson Mellott drives one off the right center wall to make it 1-0.  It kind of give us the steading factor that okay we have a lead now let’s finish this off,” said Mellott.

 

Published 6/03/22

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Hillsdale Does it Again

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Jason Snow

 

          Hillsdale has a chance to make it to the final four for the second time in three seasons as they beat defending division IV state champ Warren JFK (4-3) in a regional semifinal played at Gates Milles Gilmour Academy on Thursday.

          The Falcons were state runners up in 2019.

          They will play Tiffin Calvert, of the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division, for a regional title at Gilmour Academy on Friday.  Calvert beat Bristol (5-3) on Thursday.

          Warren JFK scored three runs in the first inning, all unearned, but after that Hillsdale coach Jason Snow says Nick Kandel was masterful.  “It was a great credit to Nick Kandel on the mound.  He kind of got himself in a little trouble that first inning on a bunt that we threw away and it led to three unearned runs, but he settled down after that and over the next six innings held them to two hits and struck out seven.  Quite a performance for Nick,” he said.

          Hillsdale got single runs in the second and fifth to cut their deficit to (2-1) and then got two in the sixth to win it.  Ninth place hitter, catcher Daniel Painter tied it on a double that scored Braylen Jarvis and then Kandel followed with a run scoring single to give the Falcons the lead.

          Snow says they just kept fighting.  “That is kind of how our whole tournament run has been.  It has been 4-3, 4-2, 4-3 the last three games.  It has been one here and one there.  We talked (Thursday) it would be nice if we could just have one of those big innings.  If we could get three or four and get a crooked number up there one time it would be great.  The kids are so resilient,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “They talked about, guys let’s just chip away and find a way.  Every inning we had guys on base.  We didn’t get the big hits all of the time, but eventually Daniel Painter came through with a big hit to get us on the board there in the sixth inning, just a key spot for us.”

          Regarding Friday against Calvert, Snow says they just have to keep finding a way.  “They stole a few bases.  We had chance to see them (Thursday) and we got a little more scouting elsewhere.  It is probably the same scenario as us.  We are both coming with our number twos, mixing up some speed, see how we can stay back and take care of some off speed pitches.  The same thing for us, we just have got to throw strikes and give our kids a chance to field the ball.  When we do that, we are usually in the game.  Right now, our offense if just finding ways to get just enough.  Hopefully, that will continue to (Friday),” said Snow.

 

Published 6/03/22

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Plymouth Beats South Central for District Title

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Jake Strayer

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Mike Perry

 

          There aren’t many times when a coach addresses the opponent after a tournament baseball game, but both coaches did that on Saturday amid the controversy surrounding the division IV district final at Heise Park in Galion.

          The work by the umpires in the game seemed to be inconsistent at best. The strike zone appeared to be a moving target.  There were a total of 16 walks in the game.

          Plymouth beat South Central (6-5) and will advance to the division IV regional tournament where they will face Antwerp at Patrick Henry High School on Thursday afternoon.

          Plymouth coach Jake Strayer says his players handled a difficult situation.  “They battled and fought through a lot of adversity, a lot of stuff they couldn’t control and they played hard.  They are 16, 17, 18-year-old kids.  A lot of them were put in positions (Saturday) that they were never put in before and they handled it.  That is something we talk about in the program is handle things the right way.  You don’t know how things are going to happen or why they are going to happen.  You have to make the best decision you can with them and I am proud of how our guys handled that,” said Strayer.

          The Big Red score twice in the top of the second inning when Shae Sparks belted an RBI triple and scored himself when the ball was thrown away trying to get him at third.

          South Central tied it (2-2) in the bottom of the second when Brandon Mitchell and Aaron Hauler walked, Eric Sanders singled home Mitchell and Hauler scored on a ground out by Isiah White.

          The Trojans took a (3-2) lead in the of the third when Mitchell again walked and scored on White’s double.  They added two more in the fourth on a couple of walks, three stolen bases a sacrifice and an error and it was (5-2) Trojans after four.

          After a scoreless fifth, things got interesting in the top of the sixth.  Trace McVey walked and Cole Wentz followed with what was called a two run home run down the leftfield line, although in the opinion of this reporter it appeared to be foul by a good 20 feet.  Third base umpire Mark McCoy called it a home run and when asking home plate ump Jeff Sutter, the call was confirmed.  Galion Police were called to the park to handle the unhappy crowd, but no physical altercations took place.

          That cut the South Central lead to (5-4), but the Big Red wasn’t done.  The next batter, Ethan Gilliam walked and Carson Tucker followed with a single.  Sparks sacrificed and Clayton Miller singled home the tying run.  Following a strikeout and a walk, Zeth Goth’s single gave Plymouth a (6-5) lead.

          Miller, who had replaced Goth on the mound, in the fourth, retired six of the last eight batters he faced to give the Big Red the win.

          South Central coach Mike Perry says he feels the performance of the umpires was inexcusable.  “The umpire tells my shortstop that he lost the ball in the sun, so he called it a home run.  Out there guessing in a situation like that is inexcusable and it breaks my heart that I have a bunch of seniors that are walking off a high school baseball field because a guy didn’t see it, so he guessed.  That can not happen in a district championship game and it did and they are dealing with that right now,” said Perry.

          Perry says they are in no way blaming the Plymouth coaching staff or players, but feels they were robbed.  “We are not mad at Plymouth.  I even told Plymouth, guys you just won a district championship, be happy, be loud, we are good with that.  I told (our players) not a lot of teams win 20 games and their conference and we were able to do that.  We felt like we were the better team.  Honestly, shooting from the hip, this game was taken away from us,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “I told them that there are lessons that you are going to learn in this life and one of those lessons is not everything is fair, not everything balances out.  Sometimes you are going to end up on the short end of it.  You learn from it and move on.”

          South Central left eight men on base in the game and Plymouth coach Strayer says he feels his team took advantage of their chances.  “They responded to the options that they had.  I said it on Wednesday night that all we need is a chance.  We gave ourselves a chance and I couldn’t be happier with them,” said Strayer.

          Miller was a star for Plymouth, not only does he get the game tying hit, but he pitched four innings of one hit baseball for the Big Red.  “He comes in and throws strikes and he competes.  He does what we ask him to do.  He goes out there and he works quick and he works fast and he is efficient.  That’s what we needed and that is what he did for us,” said Strayer.

          The OHSAA has been concerned with the lack of umpires and that came to a head on Saturday.  The game was originally scheduled for Friday and was not played due to wet field conditions.  A new group of umpires had to be found for Saturday and there were more questionable calls than normal in a game of this magnitude.

 

Published 5/29/22

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Norwalk Eliminates Bellevue

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Wes Douglas

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Andy Dennings

 

          Norwalk scored a run in the first inning and made it stand up as the Truckers beat Bellevue (1-0) in a division II district semifinal played at Fremont Ross High School on Thursday afternoon.

          They will play either Sandusky Perkins or Shelby for the district title on Saturday.  The Pirates lead Shelby (4-0) in the bottom of the third inning in a game that was suspended on Thursday when the skies opened up.  Nolan Thomas hit a big three run home run for the Pirates in the first inning.  That game will be resumed Friday afternoon, weather permitting.

          Kelton Chapin got the start for the Truckers and he fired a shutout, allowing only four hits.  He induced eight pop ups or fly outs in the game as he was able to keep the Redmen off balance.

          Norwalk coach Wes Douglas says he has improved tremendously this year.  “He went from our number four, number five to giving up one earned run in 40 plus innings.  He doesn’t walk people, he hit one guy (Thursday) maybe.  He fields his position.  Works quick, which our guys like and keeps the ball down for the most part.  Good for him, I couldn’t be happier for him, he’s a great kid,” said Douglas.

          Bellevue coach Andy Dennings can’t fault his team’s effort and intensity.  “We played our hearts out, but unfortunately we weren’t able to get one across the plate,” he said.

          Norwalk catcher Sam Battles was instrumental in his team’s win on Thursday.  He started two run downs and threw a runner out trying to steal second.

          Douglas says he can fly under the radar sometimes, but he is the leader of this baseball team and he makes big plays.  “He picked off three guys back there.  He made a nice call on the bunt back to the mound to get the lead runner there.  He goes unnoticed by a lot of people, but not by me.  He controls things.  I’d like to take credit for coaching him, but he came to me that way.  He keeps getting better.  He understands the game really well.  Those were huge outs.  I hate making them and when we can get them those are just huge outs,” said Douglas.

          Small ball has been a key to Bellevue’s success this spring, but Dennings says they didn’t execute very well on Thursday.  “Small ball, we didn’t do what we needed to do there, seeing the bunts down, and getting the bunts down.  In games like this you have to be able to do that,” he said.

          Norwalk got on the board in the first inning when Caleb Sommers was hit by a pitch, advanced to third on a double inside the third base line by Ian Minor and scored on a sacrifice fly by Eli Obringer.

          Douglas says it was good execution and aggressive play, especially by Sommers.  “We started Sommers on that hit, so he was moving on the pitch.  It was pretty bold to come to third, he made that decision on his own, a good throw would have had him.  To get the sac fly from Obringer after that.  Then zeros, zeros and good,” he said.

          Sommers also helped turn an inning ending double play in the fifth.

          Douglas says he does what is asked of him.  “We have the big three in Battles, Oblinger and Minor and he is right there with them.  He always gets the short end of the publicity stick.  I have known him and his family and his older brother played for us.  I’m happy for him, he is enjoying himself and having fun,” he said.

          Norwalk (19-7) has been playing outstanding baseball as they have lost only three games in the last month.

          Douglas says this is a veteran, experienced team that has good focus right now.  “They just have a really good vibe right now.  We had a couple of good days of practice, we had a team meal, they are loose, they are having fun, they are confident.  They are a veteran group, they have been through it.  They missed the COVID year or they would right up there across the board in the record book in team wins and individual stuff, but they don’t care about that,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “They have played a lot of baseball together since they were kids.  Their dads were a great group of coaches that taught them the right way, taught them to play multiple positions, everybody could pitch, everybody could catch and it was paid off for our program.”

 

Published 5/27/22

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Big Inning Gives Edison Win

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Sean Hoover

 

          Edison scored seven of their eight runs in one inning on Thursday afternoon as they downed Wynford (8-6) in a division III district semifinal played at Norwalk High School.

          The Chargers (20-8) will play Margaretta (20-7) for a district title Saturday afternoon at Norwalk.  The Polar Bears (20-7) beat Genoa (3-1) on Thursday.

          Wynford (20-6), the Northern 10 Athletic Conference champion, led (3-1) going to the bottom half of the sixth inning and that is when Edison got busy.

          Haden Fry tripled to start the inning and Noah Smith doubled him home.  Then Brady Barker tied the game (3-3) with an RBI triple.  After a Max Hoover infield single, Bryce Michaels gave Edison the lead (4-3) an RBI double.  It became (5-3) on Xavier Donner sacrifice fly.  Three more runs scored on an error, a Clint Finnen BRI single and a wild pitch.  It was (8-3) Edison going to the seventh.

          Edison coach Sean Hoover says the hits became contagious.  “We hit some balls hard early in the game and didn’t have a whole lot to show for it.  Wynford made a couple of nice defensive plays and we smoked a couple of balls right at them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “In the sixth inning we were able to drive some balls out over their heads.  We started the inning with a triple, a double, and another triple and it just snowballed from there.”

          Wynford battled back too to score three times in the seventh, but Hoover says they were able to survive.  “It was a little nerve raking there at the end.  That is kind why we preach to our guys that you can never have enough runs, just keep going and pushing.  No lead is ever safe.  Wynford fought to the very end like we expected they would, but we were able to pull it out,” he said.

          Edison has beaten Margaretta twice this season (7-0) on the road May 5 and (7-4) at home May 12.

          Hoover says they know each other well.  “We have played them six times in the last two years, the seventh time on Saturday.  The kids are familiar with each other and the coaches as well.  It is good to have an all “SBC” district final.  We are expecting a tough game,” he said.

          Hoover adds it is going to boil down to execution, which is mostly the case in district finals.  “We both have a general idea of what each team is trying to accomplish out there offensively and defensively.  You have to be able to make the plays when they are there to be made.  Errors will always come up and bite you in any game.  I think it is going to come down to execution on Saturday,” he said.

 

Published 5/27/22

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South Central Moves onto the District Final

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Mike Perry

 

          South Central pounded Hardin-Northern (10-0) in five innings in a division IV district semifinal played Wednesday afternoon at Galion Heise Park.

          The Trojans (20-6), the Firelands Conference champion, will play conference foe Plymouth for the district title on Friday evening back at Heise Park.

          Sophomore Eric Sanders got the ball from coach Mike Perry and he turned in a terrific performance going all five innings and allowing only three hits and two walks while striking out five Polar Bears.

          Perry says he did exactly what he asked him to do.  “Eric will throw strikes.  We were thinking were we going to start Sam (Seidel) or start Eric and we went with Eric because I want Sam’s glove out there defensively,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Eric did exactly what we wanted him to do, throw strikes and make them put the ball in play and let our defense do its job and everybody did their job.”

          Seidel is an All-Ohio shortstop headed to Bowling Green next year.  He and the Trojans played a clean game with no errors.

          Perry says Sanders works well with catcher Kayden Hauler.  “You have a sophomore that is starting the biggest game he has ever started in his high school career.  Giving him a few runs early kind of calmed him down.  He was going to attack anyway, that just the kind of kid he is.  He did a great job and he has a lot of trust in his catcher.  We let Kayden call the game and he does a great job with that in keeping them in the moment,” said Perry.

          South Central got going early in the game with a three spot in the first when Seidel, the lead off hitter, walked and eventually scored on a wild pitch.  Karl Ferber, the number one starter and expected to start against Plymouth, singled and later scored on an Aaron Hauler hit.  Another run scored on a Polar Bear error.

          They added another run in the third when Ferber walked and scored on Sanders double up the left-centerfield ally.  Make it (4-0) Trojans.

          Perry says he liked their approach at the plate.  “We have not been all year.  It started with the five conference games in five days and for some reason that just got a lot better.  We have been feeding off of that.  Their kids didn’t throw as hard as we have seen, so we worked on staying back and using the middle of the field.  They did a great job, great at bats,” said Perry.

          Ferber put the hammer down in fourth when he greeted relief pitcher Zach Spearman with a three run moonshot homer over the rightfield fence.  “When they made the pitching change, he came down, and I said, what are you going to do if they hang that curveball and he said I’m going to hit it 450.  It wasn’t 450, but he put a change into that one,” said Perry.

          South Central added another in the fourth on Brandon Mitchell’s hit.  Mitchell then ended the game in the bottom of the fifth on a two-run single.

          Plymouth beat Buckeye Central (8-6) in the second semifinal.  Friday’s district final will be a rubber match with the Trojans and Big Red splitting their conference games.

 

Published 5/26/22

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Plymouth Holds Off Buckeye Central

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Jake Strayer

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Chad Jensen

 

          Plymouth scored at least one run in each of the first four innings and then hung on to beat Buckeye Central (8-6) in a division IV district semifinal played on Wednesday evening at Heise Park in Galion.

          They return to Galion on Friday to meet rival South Central, a (10-0) winner over Hardin-Northern on Wednesday, in the district final.

          Zach Hamman opened the bottom of the first with a single and with the aid of a walk and two errors, the Big Red jumped to a (3-0) lead.

          They added two more in the second when after back to back hit batters, Zeth Goth tripled to the left-centerfield wall and it was (5-0) Plymouth after two.

          Coach Jake Strayer says they barreled up some balls and took advantage of their chances to score.  “We came out and hit the ball hard.  The first inning or two the helped us a little bit by kicking it around, but we were hitting the ball hard.  That is an extremely good baseball team.  That (Alex) Kanney kid is a heck of a pitcher.  He has thrown well all year.  He threw well (Wednesday) night,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We just happened to get bats on balls and hit them hard.  Kudos for our guys being able to do that.  I know that hasn’t happened a lot to him this year.  There is a reason for it because he is a good pitcher.”

          Ethan Gillum walked with one out in the bottom of the third and scored when Cole Wentz singled and the ball was misplayed in the outfield and it became (7-1) Plymouth.

          Buckeye Central coach Chad Jensen says the errors were uncharacteristic of the Bucks, plus with 10 runners stranded they had a lot of chances to cash I and did not.  “We have had the same defense all year.  Our kids have played well all year.  They hit it hard and we had a couple of miscues, but we had opportunities throughout the game.  That is not the reason that we lost.  We had opportunities.  Plymouth put the ball in play and took advantage of the opportunities that they had,” said Jensen.

          Plymouth added another run in their half of the fourth making it an (8-1) Big Red lead after four.

          The back came Buckeye with two in the fifth and three in the seventh.

          Strayer says they walked nine guys and that is way too many.  “I wish they would have made a few more plays.  They helped us out.  Especially with as many walks as we game up (nine).  That was our problem, we didn’t throw a ton of strikes.  We walked a lot of guys and that is where a lot of their runners came from.  They hit one or two balls hard and one was in the seventh inning.  That has got to get that fixed for Friday,” he said.

          Buckeye’s runs in the fifth came on three walks and an error.  In the seventh thy got a couple more walks and RBI hits from Clay Green and Graham Geissman.

          Pitcher Alex Kanney, a first team all district selection, went the distance for the Bucks and he gave up eight runs, but only three were earned.

          Jensen says his kids kept grinding.  “Our kids don’t quit.  Our kids at Buckeye Central don’t quit.  I am really proud of these kids and really proud of our seniors.  Alex is our senior.  He is our ace.  He is an All-Ohio kind of kid.  He was chosen to be in the All-Ohio senior series, so he is one of the top 80 seniors in Ohio and he proved that.  One thing about our kids they are going to be very successful in life because things happen and they just let it go and move on,” said Jensen.

          With two runners in scoring position when the final out was recorded, the Big Red almost surrendered that big lead, but Strayer says he will take a win anyway he can get it.  “The district semifinal win is a win. I don’t care what it is.  I don’t care how we win.  It is satisfying,” he said.

          Plymouth and South Central split their regular season meetings, South Central won the Firelands Conference pennant.

          Stayer knows it will be a challenge on Friday.  “I have coached there, dad teaches there.  We know each other.  Coach (Mike) Perry and I have a lot respect for each other.  At the start of the season this is who we expected to be here with.  They are a darn good team.  They know they are good because they saved (Karl) Ferber.  They didn’t throw Ferber (Wednesday) and he is a good pitcher too.  Let’s line it up and play ball,” said Strayer.

 

Published 5/26/22

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Fredericktown Back in Regionals

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          Fredericktown is making a return visit to the regional tournament after a (5-1) win over Amanda-Clearcreek in a division III district championship game played on Wednesday at Olentangy Orange High School.

          They advance to play at Elida Middle School and will meet the winner of the Norwalk district which will be determined on Thursday and Saturday.

          The thought going in was the Freedies might have to use a number of pitchers with their number one having gone in the semifinal. 

          However, coach Ryan Hathaway says Luke Beam would have none of that.  “With our pitching (Wednesday) night was all hands on deck, but we didn’t need it.  Luke Beam came out and gave us a start and went seven innings.  He was just in control from the first inning on.  He got in a little bit of trouble, but he really settled in.  I just felt like he pitched with a lot of confidence and our guys just had his back all night and had confidence is what we he was doing,” said Hathaway.

          Beam allowed one run on four hits.

          Plus, Hathaway says their defense was outstanding with only one error and solid play.  “Their top three guys are all going to play college baseball next year and we knew they were going to swing it.  Our defense was really strong (Wednesday) night.  We made a lot of good plays behind Luke.  We made the routine plays, which was the most important thing.  We didn’t do anything spectacular.  We just made the routine play and got us out of some jams.  It was just great to see our guys just playing with a lot confidence,” he said.

          Amanda-Clearcreek took a (1-0) lead in the top of the first on Kansas Rhymer’s RBI hit.  They would not score again.

          Fredericktown got busy with the bats right away as Brady Lester singled, Kaid Carpenter walked and Trevor Jobes bunt back to the mound resulted in a single and the bases were loaded.  Jaxen Doup’s sacrifice fly tied the game (1-1) and them pitcher Trent Hodges walked in two more to give the Freddies an early (3-1) lead.

          Carpenter stole home in the second inning to make it (4-1) part of six steals the Freddies put together on the day.

          Hathaway says they were aggressive.  “We got three in the first inning and then we got one in the second and maybe another one in the fourth.  We knew we were going to have to try and keep up.  At least get three or four there and we lucked out and got five.  I thought we kept the pressure on them on the base paths.  We were able to move up.  We ran a lot.  We just put a lot of pressure their defense to make plays.  That is what we felt like we had to do,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “The wind was blowing in again, so we knew we weren’t going to have a lot of extra base hits.  We executed the bunt and moved a lot of guys over.  Got guys in where we had runners in scoring position.  Just all around great execution by our guys.”

 

Published 5/26/22

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Hillsdale Wins District Title

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          Hillsdale earned a division IV district title Wednesday evening with a (4-2) win over Columbia in a game played at Medina High School.

          They will play either Warren JFK or Lake Center Christian in next week’s regional in Gates Mills.

          Just like in their district semifinal win over Mogadore on Tuesday, the Falcons fell behind Wednesday, but rallied from a (2-1) deficit after two to tie it in the third and put two up in the fourth to take the lead.

          Coach Jason Snow says pitcher Cade Fickes was tremendous on Wednesday.  “It was really similar to (Tuesday) we fell behind, we get one, they get one, we get a zero finally on them and then we get one.  The kids are really resilient.  They battled.  Cade Fickes threw one heck of a game,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Wednesday, “He gave up a couple of runs the first two innings.  Then next three innings he put zeros on in the hits and the runs.  We just found a way.  The top of the order got things done offensively.  Daniel Painter in the nine hole had a couple of hits for us.”

          Fickes went six innings and gave up only three hits and struck out six.

          Hillsdale was not as sound as they normally are with three errors that led to two unearned runs for Columbia.

          Snow says Fickes was able to work around their errors while they took advantage of the Columbia mistakes.  “The key for us we have said is defense.  We talked about this after our last game.  Both teams kind of booted the ball around.  We took more advantage of their mistakes.  Caden battled around our mistakes and just gave us a chance to win.  Mark Able closed it out.  He came in with a guy on base and got the next three guys to seal it,” he said.

          Fickes also added two hits and an RBI for the Falcons (23-4) and they also got one hit each from the top part of their order in Nick Kandle, Jack Fickes and Ethan Goodwin.  Plus, they got two hits, including a double from Daniel Painter.

          Snow says Painter was a big plus for him.  “He hit the ball well.  His second hit should have been another double, but he kind of lost his balance and fell coming around first base and he settled for a single, but we were still fortunate to pick him up and score him that inning.  We have potential one through nine and we will have to continue to find ways for all of guys to pitch in if we want to keep rolling,” said Snow.

 

Published 5/26/22

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Northmor Outlasts Pleasant; Advances to District Final

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          Northmor needed extra innings and a lot of them, eight in fact, to beat Marion Pleasant (4-2) in a division III district semifinal played on Tuesday evening at Pleasant.

          The game had all of the plot twists of a Stephen King novel, just when you were sure one team would win, they didn’t.

          Northmor coach Buck Workman, already an old man, probably got a lot older on Tuesday, but he says it was worth it.  “With games like that your will get old fast.  It was crazy.  I still haven’t digested the whole thing quite yet.  Credit our kids they kept grinding and found a way to get it done,” he said.

          Drew Hammond, who didn’t even start the game with a bat in his hands drilled an RBI single off Pleasant’s Peydon Gosnell in the top of the 15th to give the Golden Knights a (3-2) lead.  A second run would score that inning on a walk.

          Northmor tied the game at (2-2) in top of the seventh on Max Lower’s RBI double to force extra innings.  Pleasant had taken a (2-1) lead in the bottom of the fifth on RBI hits by J.T. Snively and Nik Osborn.

          There were lots of histrionics in extra innings.  A Northmor runner was thrown out at the plate in the eighth.  The Golden Knights Trenton Ramos made a game saving diving catch in the ninth.  Pleasant stranded two runners in the 12th, left them loaded in the 13th, and had a runner forced at home in the 14th.

          Workman says their defense was exceptional.  “It was about every inning because it felt like we were always intentionally walking somebody every inning to set up a better situation for us.  Grant (Bentley) started and went eight innings and did a tremendous job and Drew (Hammond) came in and went the remaining seven and he did a fantastic job too dancing in and out of trouble,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “The defense was huge (Tuesday) night.  We played 15 innings and we had maybe two errors.  That was why we won because of our defense.”

          In a game like this is there are many stars, but if the were an MVP for the Golden Knights, it might be Hammond.  He took the mound in the 8th inning and went the rest of the way, allowing only two hits.

          He also picked up a bat when called upon in extra innings by Workman and boy did he deliver.  “Drew was big.  He started off the game at third base and he was getting DH’d for.  Our DH was struggling a little bit, so I said we have to give Drew a shot here.  I think he grounded out the first time and hit it decent.  Then that next time with two outs, he had a big hit.  He is only a sophomore, but I expect him to continue to do big things like that these next two years,” said Workman.

          Northmor (18-7) meets Liberty Union at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University on Thursday in the district final.  The Lions beat Grandview Heights (7-0) on Tuesday.

          Workman knows they will face one of the better high school pitchers in the nation.  “That is going to be a tall order.  We are going to be seeing Jacob Miller, who is arguably the best pitcher in the state and one of the best pitchers in the county.  The kid can hit 98.  So, we are going to have our work cut out for us.  I am probably going set up the “L” screen (Wednesday) 10 feet away and try and throw as hard as I can to replicate what he does.  We will just see what we can do on Thursday,” he said.

 

Published 5/25/22

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St. Paul Uses Small Ball to Beat Old Fort

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          Norwalk St. Paul scored five runs on two hits in the bottom of the sixth inning to rally and beat Old Fort (7-3) in a division IV district semifinal on Tuesday evening at Clyde High School.

          They will have a district rematch with Tiffin Calvert on Friday in the district final.

          Old Fort (13-8) took a (3-2) lead to the bottom of the sixth, but their mistakes helped the St. Paul rally.

          Kole Maxwell led off the inning with a solid single.  He moved to second on a wild pitch and was sacrificed to third.  Eli Fisher tied the game with a bunt hit.  After a hit by pitch, Kaden Maxwell dropped another bunt down and Fisher scored to give the Flyers the lead (4-3) and everybody was safe.  Three more St. Paul runners crossed home plate on a passed ball, a wild pitch and a ground ball.

          Kaden Maxwell retired the Stockaders in the seventh to get the win.  He pitched 4 2/3 innings of hitless baseball.  Fisher went the first 2 1/3, giving up three unearned runs.

          St. Paul coach Aaron Fries says they executed what he asked the players to do in that sixth inning.  “We got a couple of runs early.  We got guys on throughout the game, but we just couldn’t get the big base hit with runners in scoring position.  In that sixth inning we got the leadoff runner on and then we just started playing some small ball.  It was a combination of our kids doing a good job of really getting the bunts down and them starting to throw it around a little bit.  We got us five runs and the only ball that left the infield was the first base hit of the inning.  So, we were pretty happy with the results,” said Fries.

          In high school baseball, according to Fries, it the execution of small ball that makes the difference.  “There is no other way to say it.  Absolutely you have to be able to move guys up and put them in position and certainly you need to be able to defend it.  Both of us bunted (Tuesday) night a number of times.  I thought we did a pretty good job defensively handling it.  I thought we did a really good job throughout the game of moving guys up.  We kept moving guys up, we just couldn’t get that big base hit.  Then in the sixth I just kept pushing the button.  Our kids did a really nice job of executing,” he said.

          St. Paul (17-9) plays Tiffin Calvert (14-12) on Friday at Clyde.  The Senecas beat state ranked Hopewell-Loudon, who also won the Swankonsports.com coaches poll title in the small school division, (7-3), in 10 innings in the first semi played on Tuesday.

          Calvert also beat St. Paul (12-2) in last year’s district semifinal.

          Fries says they will have to be at their best.  “I expect that is going to be a challenge for us.  They are a good baseball team.  Obviously, they were in the regional finals last year.  They beat us in the district semis last year.  They are well coached.  I got a chance to watch some of their game (Tuesday) when they played Hopewell-Loudon and they are a very good baseball team and they were able to beat them.  So, we are going to have our hands full,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Tuesday, “You expect nothing less in a district final game.  So, I think it was just exciting to have the opportunity to play for a district championship.  Anytime you get to play for a championship it is special and we are looking forward to it.”

 

Published 5/25/22

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Hillsdale Edges Mogadore in Districts

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          With single tallies in the fifth and sixth innings Hillsdale rallied to beat Mogadore (4-3) in a division IV district semifinal played Tuesday afternoon at Medina High School.

          They return to Medina on Wednesday to face Columbia in the district final.

          Hillsdale took a (1-0) in the first when Nick Kandel scored on a Mogadore error.  The Falcons tied the game (2-2) in the third when Kandel again scored on an error, the Wildcats had five on the day.  They would respond again in the fifth as Kandel, the Falcons lead off hitter, scored his third run of the day, this time on a fielder’s choice, and the game was tied (3-3) after five.

          The biggest hit of the day came in the bottom of the sixth when Braylen Jarvis doubled to score Jake Hoverstock and give the Falcons the (4-3) lead.

          Kandel also went the distance on the mound giving up three runs, one of them unearned, on five hits.  He struck out four and walked three.

          Hillsdale coach Jason Snow says they made enough plays to win.  “It was a great game offensively.  Really both teams made some mistakes defensively.  They made a few more than we did.  We were fortunate enough to get that run in the sixth and hold on,” he said.

          Hillsdale has had a great deal of tournament success in recent years, including an appearance in the division IV state final in 2019.

          Snow says his kid’s experience in pressure situations was a plus.  “Even with a lot of our kids with their travel ball teams playing in tournament championships.  I think the last several years just being around the success that we have been fortunate to have in our program.  Plus, all year long winning those games, but also have those tight games that we won and lost.  I think those experiences add up and our kids feel comfortable.  Everybody gets those butterflies and those nerves, but they are excited.  They are ready to go for (Wednesday),” said Snow.

          Hillsdale (22-4) will face Columbia on Wednesday, who beat Dalton, also of the Wayne County Athletic League, like Hillsdale, (2-1) on Tuesday, also in come from behind fashion.

          Snow says they have to throw strikes and good strikes.  “They are a pretty aggressive team.  They have a couple of power arms, so we are going to be challenged with our batters.  They have some pitchers that have gotten some strikeouts.  We are going to have to find some ways to muster runs.  We have to throw strikes.  They are pretty patient.  They like to wait for a fastball.  So, our pitchers are going to have to mix it up and throw some off speed,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win Tuesday, “Our key with our guys is throwing strikes.  If we don’t walk four or five guys or lead the inning off with a walk.  Typically, our defense is pretty good and they will give us a chance to win the game.  It is key for us to challenge their hitters, but also be smart with where we are making our pitches.”

 

Published 5/25/22

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Freddies Rally Past Worthington Christian

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          Fredericktown scored all four of their runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and they held on to beat Worthington Christian (4-3) in a division III district semifinal played Monday evening at Fredericktown.

          The Freddies (20-4) will play Amanda Clearcreek, who scored six runs in the seventh Monday to beat Centerburg (7-4), in district final to be played on Wednesday evening at Olentangy Orange High School.

          Worthington Christian lead (1-0) going to the bottom of the sixth.  Fredericktown coach Ryan Hathaway says they couldn’t get anything going.  “It seemed like an impossible thing (Monday) night to get baserunners on with the pitcher that they had.  Everything we hit went right to them.  The wind was blowing in, you couldn’t get anything over an outfielder’s head.  He kept us off balance the whole entire game,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Our guys just kind of stuck with it and then in the sixth inning we got a couple of guys on and got the top of the order up at the right time and we were able to put some runs up on the board.  It was a scratch and claw kind of night for us.”

          Hathaway says his team, who advanced to the regional last season, never lost confidence on Monday.  “We felt like we have played a lot tight games this season against a lot of good teams.  It is good to see it pay off when you get in the tournament in tight games like this.  It didn’t seem like our guys lacked confidence or anything.  They were just waiting on us to get something going.  I felt like we were prepared to grind that game out,” he said.

          With the Freddies having a three run lead going to the seventh maybe they could breath a little easier?  Well, there was probably some pacing going on in the dugout and the sidelines before Fredericktown put it away.

          Hathaway says they got the outs they had to get.  “Kaid Carpenter, we had to get him out, he was getting up their in pitch count as far as his limit.  We felt like if we couldn’t get one more out with a relief pitcher, we probably didn’t deserve to win it.  Luke Beam came in and he ended up closing the door in a tough situation.  It was just good to see him step up.  The defense made plays.  Just a good all around team win for us,” said Hathaway.

          Fredericktown beat Amanda Clearcreek (4-3) in a district final last year and Hathaway says a lot of kids that played in that game will suit up for both sides on Wednesday.  “I know they are really going to want a piece of us after last year, beating them last year in the district final.  They have all of those guys back from that team.  We have bunch of our guys back from that team.  It will be another tough game.  We will see their good pitcher.  At this point in the season, you just have to show up and figure out how to get one more run than them.  We will see what we can do,” he said.

 

Published 5/24/22

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Northmor Blanks Buckeye in Tune up

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          Northmor, who plays a district semi on Tuesday, beat Buckeye Central (10-0) in six innings on Monday in a game scheduled to get both teams some work.

          Jack Sears and Drew Hammond combined on a two hitter for the Golden Knights.  Grant Bentley, Gavin Whited and Garret Corwin all had two hits.  Andrew Armrose and Corwin had two RBI each.

          Coach Buck Workman says they wanted to stay sharp.  “We have been playing pretty well of late.  We just wanted to make sure we were seeing some live pitching before we got into this big game with Pleasant (Tuesday).  Coach (Chad) Jensen was kind enough to come over,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “We were scheduled to play them earlier and then we couldn’t make it work with rainouts and stuff.  He plays Wednesday against Plymouth and we have a game (Tuesday), so we got together and had a little tune up.”

          Buckeye Central (11-11) plays Plymouth in a division IV district semi on Wednesday in Galion.  Northmor (17-7) plays at home against Marion Pleasant (14-8) in division III district semifinal on Tuesday.

          Workman says their pitchers did a good job and when Buckeye hit the ball hard, they hit it right at someone.  “They hit some balls hard, but out defense was solid.  Jack Sears has been coming around.  We thew Drew (Hammond) for a couple of innings.  Anything they hit hard seemed to be right at us.  It was one of those nights when we were fortunate from that respect,” he said.

          Northmor got 10 runs on nine hits highlighted by a big six spot in the bottom of the sixth.  Workman says things seemed to mushroom for them in the sixth.  “We scored three in the third.  Everything seemed to be hard to come by until we got to the sixth.  Things just snowballed in the sixth we were able to get a couple of walks, a couple of hits, they made a couple of mistakes and the next thing you know we score six runs and it’s over.  We hit the ball pretty well, I wasn’t disappointed with that.  We had some at bats that I would like to have back, but on the whole it was pretty nice,” said Workman.

 

Published 5/24/22

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Northmor Shuts Down West Jeff

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          Northmor won their division III tournament opener Thursday evening in beating West Jefferson (4-1) at Northmor to advance to play Marion Pleasant next week.

          Starter Grant Bentley was terrific in limiting the Roughriders to one run on one hit and the Golden Knight had only one error.

          Coach Buck Workman says that is how they have to play baseball.  “Bentley was on point (Thursday) night.  He only gave up one hit and when they did put if in play our defense was solid behind him.  That is the recipe we have to have to be successful,” he said.

          Northmor only got three hits themselves, but Workman says they were able to find ways to get runs.  “Our guys did a nice job of coaxing some walks.  They were patient.  We got a couple of bunts down.  We got a couple of slow rollers.  The speed that some of our guys have put pressure on them and they made a couple of mistakes.  Normally, when you get three hits, you don’t score four runs.  Our approach at the plate was really nice.  We hit some ball hard, but there were right at them.” he said.

          Workman has been coaching the game for a long time and he feels that getting down bunts in key situations is important.  “West Jeff came and scouted us on Tuesday when we played Fairbanks, who is in their league.  It is hard not to show too much.  I am a small ball guy by nature.  I didn’t care, we were still going to put pressure on them,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “It is tough, you are playing on that turf, and the ball is bouncing and they have to go get it, field it and make a nice throw.  Let’s make them make plays instead of swinging at bad pitches and striking out.  We don’t need to do that.”

          Northmor (16-7) plays host to Marion Pleasant (14-8), a (7-3) winner over Columbus Bishop Ready on Thursday, next Tuesday in district semifinal.

          Workman says Pleasant is solid and they have to continue to play fundamental baseball.  “I have kind of followed the “MOAC” pretty closely this year.  I have some kids that play travel ball they play for Shelby, Ontario, and Galion, so I keep an eye on those guys.  Pleasant being in our district.  They are a really good team.  They have some studs.  It is going to come down to who executes in that game.  We have the ability to beat them, but if we don’t play baseball like we are capable of, they could run us off the field.  It is one those deals that if we play like we did (Thursday) night, we will be fine, if we make errors we are going to be in trouble,” said Workman.

 

Published 5/20/22

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Buckeye Central Downs Carey

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          Buckeye Central Thursday evening won a game between two teams in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference as they beat Carey (5-1) to win a division IV sectional title on their home field in New Washington.

          It isn’t east to beat a team three times in a season, but the Bucks also swept the Blue Devils in conference play, winning (6-0) April 22 and (6-4) on April 22 this season.

          The Bucks starter Alex Kanney delivered the kind of start that the team has become used to as he went the distance striking out 10 Blue Devils and permitting only four hits and walking just one.

          Carey’s only run came in the first inning and after that Kanney threw up goose eggs.

          Coach Chad Jensen says he came out Thursday as was business like and did the job.  “Alex is our ace.  He has been our ace the last two seasons.  He pitched great.  He kind of had a fluke balk in the first that scored a run, but after that he settled down and was his usual great self.  He really came to play (Thursday) and he did a great job as he always does,” he said.

          Buckeye Central would tie the game (1-1) in the bottom of the second.  They then took the lead with a three spot in the third.

          Jensen says they got a couple of big hits off a tough pitcher in Carey’s Jordan Vallejo.  “We had a big hit by Clay Green and we had a big hit by Lane Bauer.  Those were huge because we were facing a very good pitcher in Jordan Vallejo.  We knew we had to get some timely hits against him because he is a kid that if he gets a lead, he is hard to beat.  We knew if we could get a couple of runs that would help us and give us a cushion,” said Jensen.

          Buckeye Central (11-10) will play Plymouth, who beat Lucas (4-1) on Thursday, in a division IV district semifinal, next Wednesday in Galion.  South Central and Hardin-Northern play in the other semi.

 

Published 5/20/22

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St. Paul Advances With Win

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          With four runs in the fifth inning Norwalk St. Paul rallied to beat Toledo Christian (6-3) on Thursday evening and will advance to play Old Fort in the district semis next week at Clyde.

          It is the sixth straight sectional title for the Flyers.

          Kaden Maxwell belted a two-run double in the bottom of the fifth to give the Flyers a (4-3) lead.  Luke Blum’s double made it (5-3) and Ashton Stang’s RBI single put the Flyers up by three.

          Coach Aaron Fries they knew they had to play well to win.  “We knew coming in it was going to be a battle.  Toledo Christian is a good baseball team and we absolutely knew that.  It was a very good baseball game and we played really well.  They certainly made us earn it and I think we did that,” he said.

          Toledo Christian scored three in the first inning, all unearned due to a misplayed flyball, but St. Paul thew a runner out at the plate to end the inning.

          Fries says from then on their played some solid baseball.  “We had maybe one miscue in the first inning that really allowed them to get their three runs and then after that we played really clean baseball.  The past couple of games have been a little challenge for us and giving some runs away and stuff.  There were a few spots in the field where the kids just weren’t playing confident.  Those kids really turned out and made a lot of good plays in the field.  We got some good hitting, some timely hitting, 10 hits,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “It was a good all around game.  We got great pitching from Eli Fisher and Kaden Maxwell.  They were really in control for most of the game.  The three runs they get were all in the first inning.  If we didn’t have a miscue there on a flyball they don’t get any.  If was a good win for us for sure.  A good confidence builder.”

          Fisher allowed three unearned runs in five innings and Maxwell went two for the save.

          Fries says their defensive play over the last week had not been very good, but they stepped up on Thursday.  “You have to have a short memory, especially if you are coming off a couple of games when you have a few miscues that were really impactful.  So, you have to have a short memory.  Our kids have worked hard and they have grinded it in practice (Wednesday) and came out (Thursday) and played very good baseball,” he said.

 

Published 5/20/22

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Colonel Crawford Beats Crestview

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          Colonel Crawford is a step away from returning to the division III district tournament as they beat Crestview (6-2) a sectional semifinal game at Crestview on Thursday evening.

          They travel to Genoa on Friday for a chance to earn a ticket to the districts.

          They gave the ball to Brennan Hamilton on Thursday and coach Dan Gorbett says he wasn’t at his best, but he made some big pitches when he had to against the Cougars.  “Brennan struggled a little bit at times, but he got the big out when we needed it.  In one inning he walked three batters, but they didn’t get any runs in that inning.  They had threatened two or three times early and we were able to shut them down with no runs.  So, Brennan struggled, but when his back was against the wall, he made the big pitch,” said Gorbett.

          Gorbett adds that they were able to get some key hits, but also do some fundamental things in order to get on the scoreboard.  “We had a big inning.  We were up 2-0 and we scored four.  We have kind of struggled with guys on base.  Just not move them around.  (Thursday) we had hits and walks, moving up on passed balls.  A good inning where you are scoring on a like a ground ball.  We had some big hits in the bottom the order,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night after the win, “A little bit of everything.  Really pleased with our offense.  We did strikeout a lot, but we got clutch hits that we have kind of been lacking throughout the year.”

          Colonel Crawford (9-13) plays at Genoa, a (20-0) winner over Bucyrus on Thursday, in a sectional final.

          Gorbett says again fundamentals are going to be key for the Eagles.  “We have had some struggles in some of those things throughout the year.  The whole lesson was, okay, when we get to tournament time, we can’t do that kind of stuff.  We have got to clean it up and not make those fundamental mistakes.  That is the key to winning a tight game,” he said.

 

Published 5/20/22

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Seneca East Gets Past Oak Harbor

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          Seneca East rallied in the late going to beat Oak Harbor (11-9) in a division III sectional semifinal on Thursday evening outside on Attica.

          They will play fellow Northern 10 Athletic Conference member Wynford on the road on Friday for a sectional title.

          Coach Rick Bowerman says it was a game where they had to score runs and they were able to do it.  “It was a back and forth game.  We started (Wednesday) and got two and half innings in and unfortunately with the pitch count rule neither of our number one pitchers could throw (Thursday).  So, we went with our number two and they went with their number two.  We started hitting the ball very well (Thursday), so that was a very good thing,” said Bowerman.

          The Tigers were trailing when the action resumed on Thursday, but Bowerman says they go busy with the bats right away.  “We started the day down 2-1 in the bottom of the third.  We get a walk and error an then a big triple by our sophomore number two hitter.  It just seemed every inning we were able to get key hits.  Something that at times during the season, we haven’t been able to do, but in key situations we were able to come through,” he said.

          Trailing (8-7) going to the bottom of the sixth, Seneca East put up four runs to take the lead.

          Getting clutch hits can be the toughest thing in baseball.  Bowerman says when you do that if really give the team that needed confidence.  “What a momentum booster it is when you get those,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We got bit hits and our dugout was going nuts and just kept that momentum going for us.  Oak Harbor didn’t back down.  We took the lead and they came back and took the lead, but we came right back and took the lead away from them.”

          Brandon Hines and Blake Martin both had two hits for the Tigers against Oak Harbor.  Hines and Jake Bowerman both had 2 RBI.

          Wynford (19-4), #3 in the final Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, won the “N10” this year and beat Seneca East (13-2) and (11-0) in conference games.

          Bowerman says they have to be at the top of their game on Friday.  “They are a very good team.  They hit very well.  I know they have three hitters hitting over .450, so our pitcher is going to have to be on and spot the ball and make good pitches.  If you make a mistake against anyone of their hitters, they are going to make you pay for it.  We have to be solid on defense,” he said.

 

Published 5/20/22

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Clear Fork Hammers Mansfield Senior

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          Clear Fork dodged the rain drops and demolished Mansfield Senior (21-0) in five innings in a sectional semifinal game in division II on Wednesday afternoon at American Legion Field in Bellville.

          The Colts (13-10) will advance to play at Shelby (15-6) in a sectional final on Friday.

          Coach Joe Staab says it was good to get back on the field and play well.  “We had a spell there a couple of weeks ago where we weren’t playing our best baseball.  Last week, we really started to turn the corner coming into the tournament and this part of the season.  It was good to get out there and our kids had the right approach.  The boys played hard,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We put the ball in play really hard and that was awesome to see.  We had a number of different hits by a number of different guys in the lineup.  So, it was total offensive production and hopefully the hot bats can carry over.”

          They scored 13 runs in the first inning.

          Clear Fork totaled 19 hits, including four each by Jay Jackson and Ty Sellers, both also had two doubles.  Kaleb Hollar had four RBI on the day.  Kaden Riddle go the start and win for the Colts, allowing two hits over four innings and striking out seven.

          Clear Fork has gone through some offensive slumps this season and Staab says they just have to stay grounded.  “Slumps happen just because of how mental the game of baseball can be.  You can never be too high, never be too low.  That’s why it’s called a batting average.  That is why you have somebody that will go 4-4 one game and 0-4 the next game and everything has to even its way out.  You just have to stay grounded and humble and you have to go up there with the right approach and not worry about the outcome so much,” said Staab.

          Actually, the Colts didn’t dodge the rain drops, they got rained on a lot and Staab says they showed some mental discipline.  “It was nice to see and the boys did have mental discipline.  Hopefully, at this point of the year the mental stuff doesn’t have to be coached up as much because it is win and advance and lose and go home.  We are a very senior dominate team.  They know it’s the last go around and it’s time to play some quality baseball and play together because that is the only way we are going to be able to advance,” he said.

          Shelby won both of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference meetings with the Colts, (1-0) and (12-2), and Staab feels it will be a competitive game on Friday.  “I think it should be a fun and competitive game.  Both teams know each other being in the same conference.  Coach (Jon) Amicone is going to have his team ready to play.  He runs such a great program and I have so much respect for them.  Our boys are hungry and want to play Shelby again.  So, it should be a fun atmosphere and hopefully it is a competitive, clean baseball game and it should be a fun one to watch,” said Staab.

 

Published 5/19/22

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South Central Outright Champs

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          South Central claimed an outright Firelands Conference baseball title after a (9-0), five inning, win over Monroeville on Wednesday evening outside of Greenwich.

          Coach Mike Perry says his kids came ready to claim the prize.  “All of the credit to the kids.  They came ready to play after the gauntlet that we ran last week.  They knew what the task was (Wednesday).  I had a couple of seniors that really stepped up.  Brock Hale, he has not played as much as he would have wanted, but he ripped a double down the line.  Isaac Rapp has been hurt most of the year and he was able to get some time.  It was good to see the kids get out there and contribute and everyone had a piece of a win,” said Perry.

          Perry says they have worked hard all season and it is starting to pay off for them.  “Actually, when you look at it, it started in January with some of the seniors leading the lifting and the kids putting in work back in the fieldhouse in the cages and the weight room before I was even coming down there every day.  The dedication these kids have shown to this program is really admirable and it is great that in paid off with a conference championship this season,” he said.

          South Central (17-4), #5 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, is top seeded in the Galion district and will host Upper Scioto Valley in a sectional final on Thursday.

          Perry says they have to be at their best.  He says he has confidence in the team, especially its pitching.  “These kids know that we have a target on us and Upper Scioto Valley is going to come to play.  We better show up or it could be a very short celebration.  The way we are hitting the ball and the way we are throwing it.  We have six arms that have really been fantastic all season,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “That is the reason we were able to go through a week like we went through last week.  When you have six kids that can go out there and throw strikes and make the other team put the ball in play.  As a coach that is all you can ask for.  Our pitching staff this season has been amazing.”

 

Published 5/19/22

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Clear Fork Shuts Out Bellevue

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          Clear Fork blanked Bellevue (6-0) on Tuesday evening in a division II district semifinal and the Lady Colts will advance to play Lexington in a district final on Friday in Willard.

          Ashtynn Roberts was tremendous for Clear Fork in the circle has she dominated Bellevue.

          Coach Chris Clapper says Roberts has turned it up in recent weeks for them.  “Another great outing by Ashtynn.  Her mental toughness and performance over the last couple of weeks has been outstanding,” he said.

          Clear Fork opened the scoring in the top of the third on an RBI hit by Trinity Cook.  They added four in fourth to take command as the first run scored on throwing error on a bunt, that was followed by a run scoring single by Katrina Rogers and two-double by Morgan Shafer.

          Clapper says that first run gave them confidence.  “I think the trend for us has been scoring that first run.  There was a runner on second with two outs and I sent her on a steal and got that first run across and that built a lot of confidence for them,” said Clapper.

          Rogers added a second RBI hit in the sixth.

          Clear Fork (16-6) will play Lexington (17-4) on Friday for a ticket to the regional tournament.  Lexington beat Madison (3-2) in the other district semi in Willard on Tuesday.

          Lady Lex beat Clear Fork (18-9) on April 15, but Clapper predicts a different result this time.  “Lexington is a tough team.  We faced them once already this season.  We know we can hang with them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday after the win, “It was a three run game into the seventh and we had one bad inning that kind of cost us.  I don’t believe we had the chemistry and the confidence that we have now back then.”

 

Published 5/18/22

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Shelby Dedicates Win to Memory of Fan

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          Shelby dedicated their (8-6) win over Lexington in a non-conference baseball game on Tuesday evening to the memory of former student and big Shelby Whippet fan Noah Sheaffer.

          The 24-year-old passed away on Monday.  He was known as the Shelby Whippets #1 fan for his love of Shelby Athletics.  He earned a sixth man award from the basketball program.

          As far as the game itself is concerned, coach Jon Amicone says it was a solid win for them, especially with tournament starting this week.  “We apricate Lexington hosting us.  I got with coach (Kevin) Morrow and we both wanted to play a game before our games on Friday.  They are always a quality team.  We really wanted to find some competition to get us ready for Friday.  It was a big win for us.  Our guys fought back.  It turned out to be a pretty good game for us,” he said.

          Amicone says he believes the players are continuing to have a good approach at the plate.  “I thought our guys did a really nice job of putting the ball in play and competing in the box.  It was nice to get some younger guys in.  We were able to get some pinch runners in and practice our tournament lineup.  We dress a lot of guys for the tournament in hopes we can get them in whether it be a pinch runner, pinch hitter or defensive replacement.  We tried to play this game as if it was a tournament game, so a lot of guys got some quality reps,” said Amicone.

          Shelby (15-6) will play either Clear Fork or Mansfield Senior, who play Wednesday in a sectional semifinal in Bellville, in a division II sectional championship game on Friday at Shelby.

          Amicone says it terms of how much who want to play and who want to pitch in preparation for the tournament is a judgment call.  “I don’t there is a right answer.  I think all teams are different and all years are different.  I was hoping we would be able to get in another game before Friday, but it just didn’t happen,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “So, we will do some stuff in practice (Wednesday).  We will try to do an intersquad.  Have some of our younger guys throw to our guys so they can continue to see live pitching.  There are so many variables, it goes by team and it goes by year.  At the end of the day, it is who comes to play on Friday and who is ready to compete.”

 

Published 5/18/22

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Madison Gets Tournament Win

 

          Madison opened tournament play with a (13-6) win over Toledo Bowsher in Northwest District play in division I and they advance to meet top seeded Perrysburg on Wednesday.

          Coach Nick Melton says some early offense was a big factor for them.  “I think 13 equals a season high for us.  I think we have done that twice now.  So, that was definitely good.  It was nice to kind of break the game open there in the second inning.  I knew we needed to get a couple of early runs to break the seal and loosen some things up.  Sure enough once we got one five them followed pretty quickly,” he said.

          Melton says they were doing some things against Bowsher that they have not been able to do all season.  “The kids started putting the ball in play and they saw some things happen.  They did some things (Monday) night what we have been preaching all year and that was getting bunts down and stealing bases.  When you practice so long and you haven’t had success, to see it work (Monday) night the kids gain confidence in that and they start to believe and buy in to what we are doing.  It was kind of full circle there in the second inning we ran a double suicide and got a couple of runs with our two hole hitter Gavy Cates up.  He helped his own cause because he was on the mound too,” said Melton.

          It is a two hour bus ride to Toledo, but Melton says it seemed a whole lot quicker coming home.  “It makes that bus ride home so much better.  Going up there, myself and the assistants, got to kick back and talk a little baseball and enjoy the ride up.  On the way back the kids are feeling good about themselves after picking up a win.  Coach (Zac) Huff had pizza delivered the bus and we got off at a rest stop and had pizza on the bus, so that as nice.  It is nice to see them enjoying the baseball season at this point of year,” he said.

          Perrysburg is very talented, but Melton says the pressure is on them and he thinks they will be able to compete.  “We talked about that a little bit (Monday) night now that we are at the Perrysburg game kind of what is coming and what is before us.  We really having nothing to lose.  Outside of our dugout and all the support we have everybody else thinks it’s a done deal for Perrysburg.  It was nice to get through the game (Monday) night with Gavin Cates, our number two on the mound, so we are able to save our number one Seth Ohl for Perrysburg,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Monday, “Seth has been outstanding for us on the mound.  He doesn’t give up a lot of runs or hits.  So, you have to think going into that game he is going to give us our best chance to win.  So, might as well go up there and compete and have fun and see what happens.”

 

Published 5/17/22

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Hillsdale Tops South Central

 

          Hillsdale beat South Central (6-1) in a non-conference game played Monday evening between two of the hotter teams in North Central Ohio.

          The Falcons, who have lost only once since the first week of April, and South Central, at least co-champs of the Firelands Conference, who won five straight important conference games last week.

          Hillsdale coach Jason Snow says it was a good test.  “It was a pretty good game.  It was actually 1-1 in the fifth inning.  We got five runs late to kind of break it open.  We are pretty competitive teams.  It was probably good for both of us to play each other before the tournament,” said Snow.

          Snow adds that fifth inning uprising was key for them.  “We mixed it in.  We got a couple of walks.  We only got three hits for the game.  We happened to get a couple of hits that inning to break it open after a couple of walks.  The pitchers did a nice job for us working out of trouble and holding them to one,” he said.

          Hillsdale (19-4) threw five pitchers, none going more than more than two innings against the Trojans (16-4) on Monday.  Snow says thy wanted to get a lot of guys some work to keep them ready.  “We are trying to keep guys fresh.  We haven’t played since last Thursday.  We wanted a couple of the guys that pitched Thursday an inning of two.  Just trying to keep guy’s arms ready to go.  Keep them active so they are ready to go when they get on the mound in a big tournament game,” he said.

          Snow says preparing for the tournament, especially having your pitching set up, can be tricky.  “Especially with that first round bye.  If we limit ourselves to one guy in that first game and we are fortunate enough to win then we don’t play again until the 24th, so we have five days in between there then you are going to get to the point where some of the guys, maybe they throw some bullpens, but it is different than actually seeing game action,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “  So, anytime we can get somebody an extra inning of work to try and get them out on that field we are going to do that here on this tournament run.”

 

Published 5/17/22

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Columbian Wins the “SBC” Lake

 

          Tiffin Columbian is the outright champion of the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division after a (4-1) victory over Norwalk on Thursday evening in Tiffin.

          Coach Curt Mellott, back in charge of the Tiffin program after two years at Heidelberg, says they are thankful for all this season has been so far, especially Thursday night.  “It was so enjoyable (Thursday) night.  What a great group of kids, a great group of seniors.  We are just so appreciative of everything that has come our way.  Just so thankful for everything,” he said.

          Columbian ace Carson Mellott went the distance allowing only five hits, striking out five and walking none.

          Coach Mellott says his senior son was efficient against the Truckers.  “Carson Mellott went out and had his typical game that he typically does.  The only difference I would says is we were not high in the strikeout totals, so kept his pitch count down, so that was a good thing.  We just played solid defense and got some timely hitting.  Just a credit to the kids to persevere and finish things off (Thursday) night the right way,” said Mellott.

          It was a clean game as both teams only had one error.

          Norwalk (14-7,8-4), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, scored first on a RBI single by Griffin Peiples in the second.  Tiffin took a (2-1) in the fourth when they scored on a groundout and wild pitch by Norwalk starter Buddy Baker.

          Mellott says the clutch hit for them came in the sixth and form an somewhat unexpected source.  “We talked about how that just really changes momentum.  For us (Thursday) night in the bottom of the sixth inning.  A senior who has not played since his senior year Preston Keckler came through with a huge hit to get to RBI to make it 4-1.  He was just grinding his at bat and found a way to line a single to right field and scored two guys.  Really proud of him and just all of the kids for their effort,” said Mellott.

          Keckler got the hit off reliever Kelton Chapin, who had just taken to the mound with two Tornadoes on base.

          Columbian (17-4,9-2), #2 in our poll, is the top seed in division II in the Bluffton District and Mellott likes their position.  “We are really excited for the tournament.  We love our draw.  We love where we at with opportunity to play at home.  Having our one go next Friday and then hopefully things go our way and be able to come back and throw the one again right way in the district,” he told Swanknsports.com after the win, “We just like the way things have set up for us.  The kids have been there, there is some experience.  Those things just kind of play into each other and create the snowball than can roll downhill right now.”

 

Published 5/13/22

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Wynford Claims Share of “N10”

 

          Wynford is going to at least share in its first Northern 10 Athletic Conference baseball title since 2016 after beating Buckeye Central (12-2) in five innings in a conference game Thursday evening at Wynford.

          They play Buckeye again Friday in New Washington and coach Tom Smith says they want to be greedy and claim that title to themselves.  “Absolutely, we want to win it all (Friday),” he said.

          Avery Langenderfer banged out three hits and had thee RBI on Thursday.  Teammate Cainen Allen had three hits and two runs batted in.

          The Royals (17-3,12-1), # 3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, totaled 14 hits.

          Smith says it has been a team effort with the bats.  “We are hitting good right now top to bottom one through nine.  The bottom of our order is just putting the ball in play and generating a lot of runs,” Smith said.

          Nine of their hits on Thursday came from hitters six through nine and Smith says those kids have been doing an excellent job.  “(Thursday) we had a couple of our big guys lead off an inning and didn’t get a hit and six, seven, eight, nine all got a hit after we scored three runs with two outs in the bottom of the lineup.  They are producing a lot of runs for us,” he said.

          Spencer Miller went all five innings to get the win against Buckeye (10-8,8-4) allowing eight hits and two runs.

          Smith says their pitchers have been putting them in positions to win.  Spencer and Sam Collene both have been pitching well all year,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Thursday, “Spencer started out a little slow in the first inning, but came around and shut them out after we gave up those two runs in the first inning.  Defense played well again, especially our outfield, they are really running balls down when they are hit their way.”

 

Published 5/13/22

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Edison Now Outright Champs

 

          Edison beat Margaretta (7-4) for the second time in a week Thursday evening and the Chargers are now outright champs of the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          Actually, that took place on Wednesday when Margaretta lost to Oak Harbor, but Edison coach Sean Hoover says they wanted to take care of their own business.  “We talked to the guys about not wanting to win the title through the back door by losing the game (Thursday) night and still have the title because of their loss.  We came out and fell down early in the game, but we were able to come back and get the win,” he said.

          Margaretta took a (4-2) lead with three runs in the third inning, but the Chargers put up a four spot in the fourth to take command. 

          Hoover says its important to respond quickly.  “The longer you stay down in a game I think the harder it is mentally to make the comeback a lot of times.  We did a nice job of coming right back, it was only an inning of so that they had the lead.  We had a couple of guys start the inning with a couple of hits.  We were able to string some more hits together and put up a four run inning of our own.  Then Thomas (Simon) and our defense shut them down the rest of the way,” said Hoover.

          Simon had eight strikeouts in the complete game win.

          Edison (15-8,9-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, is the second seed in next week’s district tournament in division III, but Hoover says you have always go to be ready to play.  “We have been playing fairly well.  I think we have hit the ball well especially the last three games, so the bats are starting to get hot at the right time.  Defensively, we have been pretty good, there was a play or two out there (Thursday) night.  They have been good all season long,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “So, it looks like things are starting to come together for us.  You have to make sure you go play every game and play every game hard.  You never know in baseball what is going to happen, it is one of those funny games.  You have to show up every night ready to play.”

 

Published 5/13/22

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Wooster Wins Another “OCC”

 

          Wooster has laid claim to a second straight outright Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball title after beating West Holmes in (11-1) in Wooster on Wednesday evening.

          It is the time in over 35 years the Generals have win back to back conference titles and coach Steve Young says it feels pretty good.  “It was awesome.  To be completely transparent, we weren’t really sure what we were going to have coming into this year.  Early on in the year you lose your number one pitcher in Elijah Steiner, defending “OCC” pitcher of the year.  We just talked to our kids all year about playing the next pitch, being resilient, fighting through and doing whatever is asked,” he told Swanknsports.com, “These guys did an awesome job of that and the reward came (Wednesday) night.  It is the first time since 84-85 that a Wooster baseball team has gone back to back.  It was definitely a very, very special moment and we certainly enjoyed it.”

          Young says this is a baseball team that has been getting better all season because they dedicated to working on their skills.  “That’s a credit to our guys.  Our guys showed up every single day.  I can’t tell you how many times the day after can I get extra work with guys.  For an example, after we win Wednesday and we celebrate out on the field with parents taking pictures and we had three kids going to extra work and taking ground balls after the game.  That is just kind of the work ethic and the mentality that trickles down through the entire program.  We are very, very excited to see these kids grow as young men.  They know if they want to earn something they are going to have to go out and work for it.  They did a great job this year and it certainly paid off,” said Young.

          Wooster (18-4), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Berlin Hiland (7-6) on Thursday in non-conference play and Young says they want to continue to play good baseball teams going into the tournament.  “We want to stay in a rhythm here.  We are finally getting some good breaks with the weather.  We are trying to find that rhythm that we haven’t been to find really all year because of the weather.  We are playing quality teams.  That was the whole point late in the year to see quality teams.  Berlin Hiland is ranked top 10 in the state, Norwayne is ranked top 10 in the state and Brunswick is a very solid program that we are going to see on Monday.  Just trying to make sure our guys are seeing good pitching and our pitchers are seeing quality hitters and get better every day,” he said.

 

Published 5/13/22

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Shelby Beats Ontario Again

 

          Trailing three different times in the game, Shelby rallied and beat Ontario (10-7) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Wednesday evening in Shelby.

          The win knocked Ontario out of a share of first place in the conference.  Highland beat Clear Fork (12-2) to secure the outright title.  Both Shelby and Ontario stand a game back, but the Warriors have two more “MOAC” games to play this week.

          They didn’t win a league title, but Shelby coach Jon Amicone says he was very proud their efforts.  “I told our kids after we got the Highland news there is nothing to be ashamed of.  Obviously, we didn’t’ reach our goal.  That was a gutsy two weeks by our team,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I am extremely proud of them.  We made our bed and we have to lie in it.  In my mind we continue to get better and we have to continue that going into the tournament.  We know we are going to have a tough first game next Friday.”

          Ontario (12-5,8-4) began the week with a one game lead, but lost Tuesday (5-2) to Shelby and without ace Ryan Chapman available Wednesday the Warriors sent four pitchers to the hill.  Jacob Barabani started and went the first 3 1/3 innings allowing three earned runs on three hits.  He was followed by Carter Walters and game three runs on three hits over an inning and a third.  Eli Stankovich also went 1 1/3 innings giving up two runs on three hits.  Braxton Hall got the last out of the sixth for the Warriors.

          Ontario coach Mike Ellis says it was a tough loss, no question.  “It was an up and down game.  Our pitchers, we felt like they threw strikes.  They won, they scored more than we did.  It’s just tough to lose, especially this way.  We just have to regroup and get ready for Marion Harding (Thursday),” he said.

          Overall, Ontario hurlers walked 11 Whippets and hit two more.

          Ontario took a (1-0) lead in the top of the first when Gage Weaver reached on an error and scored on a single by Colton Ramian.  Shelby tied in their half they loaded the bases on two hits and a hit batsmen and the scored on a RBI groundout by Luke Shepherd.

          Ontario took a (3-1) in the third on an error, walk and a couple of hits, including a RBI single by Ramian.

          Shelby went back in front with a four spot in fourth on a two-run single by Luke Shepherd and a RBI Texas Leaguer by Logan Green, and it was (5-3) Whippets after four.

          Ontario chased Shelby starter Landon Kennard with five straight hits in the fifth and run scoring single by Drew Yetter and two-run hit by Barabani.  Enter Shelby reliever Jeremy Holloway and he slammed the door.  “He was the player of the game for us.  He is a senior leader.  He takes the mound with a one run deficit with guys on base and they don’t extend the lead.  That was crucial in our game and it allowed our offense to stay in the game and continue to play our game and score some runs,” said Amicone.

          Holloway only permitted one run on four hits over the final three innings.

          Shelby retook the lead with three in the fifth on a Warrior error and three walks to make it (8-6) Shelby and they scored twice in the sixth on back to back doubles by Holloway and Marshall Shepherd.  Luke Shepherd added an RBI single and it was (10-6) Whippets.

          Shelby added nine hits to their walks and hit batsmen, so the Whippets had a lot of traffic on the bases.

          Amicone says his offense had a good day.  “Our kids did a really nice job against some tough pitching.  Our kids did a nice job of barreling up the baseball.  We have to clean up some base running things.  I was really proud of our lineup’s ability to score runs,” he said.

          Ontario plays Marion Harding on Thursday and Clear Fork on Friday in league games and Ellis believes they will be ready to play.  “I think after they get a good night’s sleep.  I always tell them the thing about baseball is it’s the next day, you have another game.  I’m the same way.  It will be hard to sleep.  I’ll get up and it’s a new day and we have Marion Harding.  Give Shelby credit, they are a good team.  Jon does a good job over here,” said Ellis.

 

Published 5/12/22

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Highland is “MOAC” Champ

 

          Highland is in its first year as a member of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference and after a (12-2) destruction of Clear Fork in five innings on Wednesday evening they are outright baseball champs.

          Shelby helped them by defeating Ontario (10-7) on Wednesday and knocking the Warriors out of a share of first.

          Coach Donnie Kline says the title feels pretty good.  “The boys have worked hard all year.  It’s a fun league to be a part of.  To be a competitive team at the end of the season, and playing meaningful games, is a lot of fun.  We got a couple of breaks and things went our way and we are really happy,” he said.

          Zach Pinkerton got his first starting assignment of the season and went four innings surrendering only four hits and no runs.

          Rider Minnick and Kort Sears led the offensive explosion with three hits each for the Scots.  Sears had two doubles and two RBI for Highland.

          Kline said it last week after a loss to River Valley that the Scots (15-7,11-3), #5 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, had to win the rest of their league games and that is exactly what they did.  “With senior leaders it makes it a little bit easier.  They are kind of an extension of our coaching staff at times.  Our message to the boys was our tournament starts a little bit earlier than other teams,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win Wednesday, “We have to face it that way, where every game had that tournament feel.  We really couldn’t afford any losses.  We didn’t want to rely on any outside help.  We wanted to take care of business ourselves.  They boys kind of bucked down and played really good baseball.  We cleaned up some things offensively and defensively and played some pretty good baseball.”

          Highland has now won four straight conference titles, the last three in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference.  They have won or shared 13 league title since 2005.

          Kline says it’s about fundamentals.  “We talk about priorities and how we organize our team activities and team workouts.  They always center around pitching and defense.  The ability to control small ball and try and keep runners close and limit the big inning.  When you do that at the high school level all that it takes is for your offense to have a good inning here or there.  If you do that it puts pressure on the other side.  Fundamentals are what works at the high school level,” he said.

 

Published 5/12/22

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Norwalk in Position

 

          Norwalk has taken care of its business and now has a chance to move into a share of first place in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          They beat Clyde (5-2) on Wednesday and now they head for Tiffin Columbian (16-4,8-2), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, on Thursday with a plan in mind.

          Veteran coach Wes Douglas says they really played well in all aspects of the game on Wednesday.  “I was very proud of our team (Wednesday).  There was a little pressure on us, but they came through.  Ian Minor has 110 pitches and put us in position to win on the mound, he went six innings.  We got some production from the bottom of our order.  We ran the bases well.  It puts us in great position to go to Tiffin (Thursday) and see what we can do down there to get a share of the title.  Who knows what happens after that,” said Douglas.

          The Truckers are also the top seed in their division II district.

          Norwalk has played outstanding baseball as of late.  They have won their last six league games since a (6-0) loss to Sandusky Perkins on April 20.

          Douglas says they have been fighting to be in this position.  “All you want to be doing is to have a chance the last week or two.  Now, when it is a 12 game league season there is not a lot of separation.  What every coach at the beginning of the season predicted it would be a tough horse race has come to fruition.  We are happy to have that opportunity (Thursday) and we look forward to it,” he said.

          Norwalk (14-6,8-3), #4 in our poll, lost to Columbian (4-2) back on April 5.

          They likely face Columbian ace Carson Mellott again as they did the first time.  Mellott has surrendered only four earned runs all season.

          Douglas says they will have to be at the top of their game.  “That was our message to the kids.  We are going to have to play as well as we can play.  They are obviously a talented team with one of the best pitchers in Ohio on the mound.  Their coach has been there a long time.  Him and I have gone at it 40 plus times.  We have a lot of respect for their program.  We have our number one guy set up, our best defense, we will go down there in see what happens,” he said.

 

Published 5/12/22

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Jackets Win in Walk off Fashion

 

          Mt. Vernon is going to finish second in the Ohio Cardinal Conference this season as they rallied to beat Ashland (6-5) in an “OCC” game in Mt. Vernon Wednesday evening.

          Wooster beat West Holmes (11-1) and will win the title again this season.  The Jackets will finish a game back.

          They had lost (3-1) to the Arrows on Tuesday to fall out of a share of first and coach Nate Hunt says it looked like Wednesday’s game was going along a similar path.  “We were up three and quickly found ourselves down 5-3.  They did a nice job both nights.  Game one we were up 1-0 and they came back quickly and answered and made it 3-1 and that was the end of it for game one.  In game two, we put ourselves in the exact same situation up 3-0 and they come back 5-3 and we are down two.  We were stale right at the beginning, we scored three runs, and we were stale again,” he said.

          Hunt says they go a big rally going that ended on a walk off hit by senior Beau Bridges.  “Then in dramatic fashion we found ourselves with our one and two guys in the lineup, they got on base, we decided to get the guys in scoring position with a bunt and a throwing error scored those guys.  So, we have a guy on third base, so they walked our number two and our number three to make a force.  It is hard to not me romantic about the game of baseball, our four hole hitter, a senior, on senior night, hits a walk off to end it.  It was fun,” said Hunt.

          This is the first senior group to come through the Mt. Vernon program under Hunt’s leadership and he says it was a special night.  “Especially on senior night to have a senior come in the fourth and to basically close the door in the fifth, sixth and seventh, have a senior come in and close it.  It is something they will remember, it is something that I’ll remember for them as Mt. Vernon baseball players,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We talked at the beginning with the senior ceremony, this group of kids just sticking with me and believing in me and believing in my coaching staff, and believing in the program.  It was just a beautiful way to end the night.  We still have another home game, but what a fun way to end it for them.”

 

Published 5/12/22

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Ashland Has a Chance

 

          They are going to need some help from West Holmes, but Ashland has a chance to share the Ohio Cardinal Conference title after they beat Mt. Vernon (3-1) in Ashland on Tuesday evening.

          With their backs against a wall, the Arrows had to have a win and coach Rich Gough says they came out and did the job.  “Our kids played outstanding baseball (Tuesday) night.  We played a clean game and Luke Bryant was absolutely outstanding on the hill.  I couldn’t ask for much more,” he said.

          Mt. Vernon coach Nate Hunt says Ashland was tremendous and they need to be ready to play on Wednesday.  “Ashland did a great job (Tuesday) of battling all seven innings.  This time of year, is when you want to be working as one big unit and Ashland did that.  Hats off to Luke for pitching a great game.  We have to come ready to go (Wednesday) like it’s a fresh start.  We need to treat every game like were 0-0 and so is the other team,” said Hunt.

          Bryant, a sophomore, is Ashland’s number one and Gough says he turned in a clutch performance.  “Yeah, he is our ace.  I mean he has carried us into the sixth inning at least in every outing.  He would have finished the game, but his pitch count got a little high, so we had to go to Alex Grissinger to finish the game.  Luke pitched an outstanding ballgame.  He battled all of the way through,” said Gough.

          Gough says it was a well played game by both teams.  He says they made a couple of more plays.  “It was a battle.  Mt. Vernon is a good team and a well coached team.  I think each team had four hits.  They made a couple of mistakes at critical times and we were able to push across three.  I was a heck of a battle,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I think a key moment in the game was when out rightfielder Wyatt Mohrman threw out a runner at the plate and made a heck of a play.  I think that turned the game around in our favor.
          Ashland (10-6,9-2) will be at Mt. Vernon (13-5,9-2) on Wednesday for the second game of the two game series.  Wooster now leads the “OCC” by a game over the Arrows and Jackets after their (1-0) win over West Holmes on Tuesday.  They also play each other Wednesday at Wooster.

          Gough says they just want a chance.  “To go into the last game of the “OCC” season and have a chance to win a league title is about all you can ask for.  If we can get Mt. Vernon (Wednesday).  I know West Holmes and Wooster had a heck of a ballgame (Tuesday), I think it was 1-0.  If things fall our way.  We have a chance, that’s all you can ask for,” he said.

 

Published 5/11/22

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Shelby Closes to Within One

 

          This is the final week of regular season and the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference could still end in five different ways.

          A key was Shelby’s (5-2) win over Ontario on Tuesday combined with Highland’s (6-2) win over Clear Fork.  Ontario and Highland share first place with Shelby a game back.  The same two matchups are set for Wednesday.  Ontario must still play Clear Fork on Friday.

          On Wednesday at Ontario, Shelby got another solid pitching effort from Marshall Shepherd and three RBI from Alex Brushkotter in their key win.

          Brushkotter opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first and the Whippets tacked on three more in third on RBI singles by Marshall and Luke Shepherd and Brushkotter to make it (4-0) Whippets after two and half innings.  Ontario’s starting pitcher Ryan Chapman helped himself with a two run homer in the fourth making it (4-2), but the Warriors could get no closer.  Brushkotter provided an insurance run with another RBI hit in the top of the seventh.

          Shelby coach Jon Amicone says their understood there was no room for error.  “We understood going into this week what we had to do to give ourselves a chance for a league championship.  It is nice to get off on a good foot, but we understand the challenge is still in front of us.  We have a hungry team to play (Wednesday) in Ontario,” said Amicone.

          Ontario coach Mike Ellis makes no excuses, he says the best team Tuesday night won the game.  “Shelby was the better team (Tuesday).  They were aggressive at the plate and Shepherd was good on the bump.  Their defense made the plays.  I have to give them credit they are a good team,” he said.

          Amicone says the early runs the Whippets were able to produce was key for them on Tuesday.  “It was important for us to score early to give “Shep” a little breathing room.  Anytime you go up against a pitcher the caliper of Chapman runs are going to be hard to come by, so we really wanted to try and scratch a few across to give “Shep” some easy innings.  Getting that lead early was key for our team,” said he said.

          It comes down to this, if Ontario (12-4,8-3) wins Wednesday they can do no worse than share the “MOAC” title with Highland.  If Shelby (12-6,7-4) wins they also need Clear Fork to upset Highland to create a three way share of the title.

          Amicone says he is exceptionally proud of the way his kids have responded this year.  “That is why we play.  For us to be in our last league series with a least a chance to win a championship is why you do it.  I was very proud of our kids after starting slow this season they could have folded,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Tuesday, “They could have started working for the tournament, but they did a good job of understanding the goal and the mission to do everything they could to give themselves a chance.  Obviously, we want to do everything we can to win.  I can’t say how proud I am of this team with how they started and where they are now.”

 

Published 5/11/22

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Freddies Claim Outright “KMAC” Title

 

          They shared it last year, but there was none of that this year for the Fredericktown Freddies as they beat Mt. Gilead (7-3) on Tuesday to win an outright title in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference.

          Leadoff hitter Brady Lester collected two hits, including a double, a three RBI for the Freddies (15-3,11-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, on Tuesday.

          Coach Ryan Hathaway says winning that conference title was the first goal they had in mind this season.  “Anytime you can put numbers up on your banner and add something to your jacket it’s a good first step for the season.  There is still a lot we have to work for.  I am proud of our guys for accomplishing that (Tuesday),” said Hathaway.

          Ben Mast started the game for Fredericktown and went the first four innings allowing two earned runs on six hits.  Kaid Carpenter, the Freddies ace, went the final three innings, permitting only one hit.

          Fredericktown suffered its only conference loss to Centerburg (6-4) last Wednesday.

          They needed the win Tuesday to avoid sharing the title with the Trojans.

          Hathaway says it was a good response.  “It was good to see us bounce back.  After you have a tough loss like that, we kind of got to see what our guys were about.  That was our first league loss.  We rallied this last week and started playing better baseball.  It seems like we are starting to hit our stride at the right time,” he said.

          Fredericktown earned the second seed in the division III in Central District and will play either Madison Plains or Johnstown Northridge on May 19th at home.

          Hathaway says will they are peaking, they still have some improving to do.  “That is always the plan.  Some years are a little different than others.  I think this year we are starting to put it together and kind of seeing where guys fit in in the lineup and what guys we can rely on on the mound.  We have another week here to figure things out, but I think it is starting to come together,” said Hathaway.

 

Published 5/11/22

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Wooster Guarantees Share With Win Over West Holmes

 

          Wooster will do no less than share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball title this season after edging West Holmes (1-0) on Tuesday evening outside of Millersburg.

          They lead Ashland and Mt. Vernon by a game.  Wooster hosts West Holmes on Wednesday.  The Arrows and Jackets play each other in Mt. Vernon.  Ashland knocked Mt. Vernon from a share of lead in beating them (3-1) on Tuesday.

          Coach Steve Young says they want that title to themselves.  “Every team sets out at the beginning of the year to try and win a championship.  At least to know we have part of a grip on one is a good feeling.  Our boys really didn’t celebrate (Tuesday) night.  Of course, we celebrated the win, but we really didn’t celebrate any championship.  We know we have one more to get and it is going to be a tough one to get.  (Wednesday) we will wake up and hit the reset button and try and get after it,” he said.

          Freshmen Brady Bowden was again outstanding for the Generals (16-4,10-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, as he went six and third innings, allowing only four hits.  Drew Becker got the save.

          Young says it was a pitcher’s duel.  “(Tuesday) night was everything high school baseball should be.  You had two teams that were fundamentally sound.  It was a pretty clean game, just competing, and grinding out every single pitch.  It was really fun to be part of.  Obviously, it’s a little more fun when you are on the winning end of it.  Tip my cap to our freshman Brady Bowen, who had a good game.  We kind of knew going in that Noah Clark, he was our only league loss last year, so we knew we had a tough one ahead of going down there, he thew a heck of a game, he is a competitor,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “To be quite frank, I am glad we are never going to see him again on the mound because that kid can fill it up.  It was a great team win and glad we got it done.  It was definitely an instant classic.”

          Jack Williams got the big hit.  An RBI single the top of the sixth.

          Young says it was a clutch play.  “We thought we would have a few more.  We had a kid thrown out a home plate.  They made a couple real nice plays defensively.  I think we had three hits with a runner on second base and we were only able to muster up one run there.  We had some guys come through in a clutch spot.  It was one where there was a little bit of small ball and try and see what we can come up with.  We were fortunate enough to get a big hit from Jack Williams, one of our seniors, our of our leaders.  He got the game winning RBI in the sixth inning there,” said Young.

 

Published 5/11/22

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South Central Survives; Holds First Place

 

          Aaron Hauler got the win and the game winning hit as South Central scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally and beat New London (4-3) on Tuesday evening outside of Greenwich.

          The Trojans (14-3,8-1) lead both Norwalk St. Paul and Crestview by a game in the Firelands Conference standings.  St. Paul smoked Monroeville (18-0) and Crestview beat Plymouth (7-2) on Tuesday.

          Coach Mike Perry says New London gave them a tremendous challenge.  “We had so many opportunities.  I am not going to take anything away from New London.  The (Logan) Girton kid pitched a tremendous game.  He is a really special player and a great kid.  They came out and came after us two days in a row.  We knew we are going to get everybody’s best shot,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “They came out and played very well.  They played clean defensively and they pitched well.  We were able to win a couple of games and in the grand scheme that is the important part.  If we win 4-3 or 14-3 it doesn’t matter as long as we get that “W”.

          South Central beat New London (9-7) in eight innings on Monday.

          Brandon Mitchell pitched the first 3 and two-thirds for the Trojans and Aaron Hauler finished up with the final 3 and one third, allowing only one hit.

          In the pivotal seventh Aaron’s older brother Kayden tied the game with an RBI single and the Aaron provided the winning run with his own RBI single.

          Perry says Aaron is young and talented.  “Aaron Hauler, a 14-year-old freshmen, who came in and threw three innings and shut them down and then got the game winning hit.  Sometimes I have to remind myself he is a 14-year-old kid, he is a special player.  He has confidence in himself.  His talent is off the charts.  Three more years of high school baseball for this kid.  He is one of those kids that some of these big schools need to start looking at now because he has that level of ability,” said Perry.

          It has been a year of rainouts and South Central has had more than its share.

          Perry says they have three more Firelands Conference games this week.  “We have another back to back to back.  We have Western (Wednesday), we finish up our game with Mapleton on Thursday and then we have Crestview on Friday.  It’s one game at a time, we are not looking down the road at anybody.  We did kind of hold back a little bit of pitching because we knew it was going to be a grind.  (Wednesday) I fully expect Western Reserve to come out and take their best shot at us too,” said Perry.

 

Published 5/11/22

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Ontario Rallies to Win Again

 

          Ontario still has a one game lead on Highland in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference standings after they rallied to beat Marion Harding (5-4) on Monday evening in Ontario.

          Similar to last week’s game with River Valley, a (16-14) win, Warriors coach Mike Ellis says they picked it up in the eighth inning.  “It was a game that we started last week, but we were tied 3-3 after seven innings and had to call it due to darkness, so it got pushed back to the beginning of this week,” he said.

          Ontario made some mistakes in the top of the eighth, leading to a Harding run, but Ellis says they didn’t make an out in responding in their half of the inning, culminating with a game winning hit by Gage Weaver.  “They were up first and we hit the first batter.  The ball got away from my pitcher, but he pitched out of it.  We had a throwing error, which cost us a run.  So, it was 4-3 going to the bottom of the eighth,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Carter Walters was leading it off and he got up and hit a single to leftfield.  Then Carter Weaver and he gets a single to rightfield.  We had two on, first and second, and we laid a perfect bunt down.  They didn’t want to throw the ball away at first, so it was another single.  So, with the bases loaded and no outs, Gage Weaver came up and he laced a single to leftfield and we scored two runs there.”

          Ontario (12-3,8-2) plays third place Shelby (11-6,6-4) on Tuesday and Wednesday.

          Ellis says they have been pretty good in clutch situations and they have to be ready to play this week.  “These guys have been in this situation before continuing a game that was tied last week with River Valley.  We have played in some close games with Sandusky Perkins and stuff, so we have a little bit of experience.  They seem a little more relaxed.  It was a good win for us, but I told them to enjoy it, however, we have Shelby that is coming to our place and that is going to be a tough ballgame for us.  So, one game at a time,” said Ellis.

 

Published 5/10/22

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Bellevue Beats First Place Tiffin

 

          Bellevue has made things more interesting in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference as they beat first place Tiffin Columbian (6-1) on Monday evening in Bellevue.

          The Redmen trail by two games and second place Norwalk is now only one game back.

          Bellevue coach Andy Dennings says it was an outstanding win for them.  “They are a really quality opponent.  We had a really good game with them the first time when we got beat (1-0) at their place and just didn’t come away with the “W”, I think we out hit them.  So, it was a good response for us.  Our number one Ethan Mohr pitched really against a really tough lineup,” said Dennings.

          Mohr threw a five hitter for the Redmen, allowing only a run in the first inning on a single by Carson Mellott.

          Tiffin (15-3,7-2), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, pitchers walked 11 batters and they hit three more and Columbian coach Curt Mellott says you are not going to win doing that.  “We struggled on the mound (Monday) night and offensively couldn’t string much together.  Credit Ethan Mohr for a quality start,” he said.

          Mohr now has five wins on the season for Bellevue (10-7,6-4) and Dennings says he has become a consistently quality pitcher.  “He has been pretty darn good.  The opening day against Wynford, he kind of struggled a little bit.  He took a loss at Norwalk and really that was nothing that he did wrong, we just had a bad inning defensively.  I think he has won four or five games in a row.  He has pitched outstanding,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “He competes extremely well.  He has really shown a lot of growth for last year.  The back end of last year he really kind of progressed.  He has parlayed that to this year for a really outstanding senior year for us.”

          Bellevue plays Huron in a division II sectional title game on May 20th and Dennings this team is capable of making a run in the postseason.  “I definitely think we could do some damage, absolutely.  We have been kind of farting around all year.  Win two, lose one, lose two, win one, kind of can’t string it together, but hopefully that is about to change here.  This win ought to do nothing but make us feel pretty good about things and try and push us in the right direction.  We have a heavy week with four in row, so we are going to have to play well, but it’s an opportunity to get the ball rolling,” he said.

 

Published 5/10/22

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Crestview in the Hunt

 

          Crestview beat Plymouth (6-0) on Monday evening in Plymouth to keep themselves just a game back in the Firelands Conference race.

          South Central rallied to beat New London (9-7) in eight innings to keep the lead.  Norwalk St. Paul, an (11-0) winner of Monroeville, like the Cougars, trails by just a game.

          Crestview (11-7,9-2) will host Plymouth on Tuesday.

          Coach Don Keener says Jarek Ringler was tremendous on the hill on Monday.  “Our pitcher (Monday) night Jarek Ringler was just outstanding.  He gave up maybe two hits in six and two thirds innings.  I mean he was on,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “He was hitting the strike zone and we played good defense behind him.  I think we had maybe one error.  With high school baseball, I will take that any day.”

          Keener says when the pitcher throws strikes, that makes the fielders more on their toes and ready to make the play.  “That helps a lot for the kids to keep their attention to what is going on.  Staying focused, it definitely helps when you have a kid throwing strikes,” he said.

          It was a tight game for most of the way, but Keener says they had an explosion late in the game, aided by the Big Red a little bit to take command.  “It was a back and forth game.  It was 1-0 going into the sixth inning and then we strung some hits together.  They had a couple of mosques, but the bottom line was our kids were putting the bat on the ball and putting it in play and that is what you want to do,” said Keener.

 

Published 5/10/22

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Lexington Downs Norwalk

 

          Lexington continues to play improved baseball as they beat Norwalk (4-2) in a non-conference game played in Lexington on Monday evening.

          Norwalk (13-6), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, stands in second place in the tough Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says it was a solid win over a very good program.  He says they got outstanding pitching.  “The tournament seeds and that stuff is over with, so we have some heavy hitters where to finish out the year getting ready and who better than Wes Douglas and the Norwalk Truckers, who are just on fire.  They just got the one seed in the district up there.  We just wanted to compete against somebody that was really good and would prepare us for our district tournament.  Landin Goetz threw an excellent six innings and Bradley Miller came in with a one inning close.  That was a big time win against a great program,” said Morrow.

          The Minutemen (6-11) also beat Tiffin Columbian, another Lake Division power, (3-1) last week.

          Morrow says they have developed more pitching depth.  “We have three good pitchers that are going for us in Pauley, Goetz and Murfield and they have been keeping us in games.  Our struggle has always been our ability to blow a game open or get a clutch hit to give us a little breathing room.  (Monday) night we got just enough.  We got four runs in the first inning and we made it stand.  So, we are playing good baseball.  We are kind of hot and cold, but when our pitchers are on, they usually throw really well and keep us in games,” he said.

          Lexington drew a division II first round tournament game at Celina later this month.

          Morrow says the tournament actually sets up pretty well for them.  “It is a heck of an opportunity.  Some things fell in place that we didn’t expect being the seventh seed.  I didn’t think we would have a first round bye and it just fell in our lap, so we jumped on it.  We get to throw our number and then turn around if we are fortunate, and throw the number one again in the district semi.  We did play Wapakoneta really well this year,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win Monday, “We have to get a win against Celina.  We are familiar with Wapakoneta.  We played them last year in the sectionals and won and we had a really close game this year and had a chance to win it.  So, there are some good things lined up for us.  We just have a long road trip, a couple of hours on a bus, but we are feeling pretty good about ourselves.”

 

Published 5/10/22

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Hillsdale Edges Fredericktown in Extra Innings  

          Jax Rogers hit a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning and Hillsdale beat Fredericktown (6-5) in a non-conference baseball game between two of the better small school teams in North Central Ohio on Monday evening.

          Coach Jason Snow says it was a good test for the Falcons heading into the tournament next week.  “We were looking forward to this contest.  It was a pretty good game.  They made some errors early and we made some errors late.  It came down to one swing and Jax Rogers were able to hit one over the leftfield fence to give us the game winner,” he said.

          Snow says due to injury, Rogers has been an out of the lineup, but he stepped up big time for them on Monday.  “Jax is coming back from shoulder surgery after football season, so he has been in and out of the lineup.  He hasn’t been able to throw until about three weeks ago, so he plays a little first base.  He came off the bench.  He didn’t start (Monday), but he came in in the fifth inning and got a walk in his first at bat and then came up in the eighth and became the hero for us,” said Snow.

          Ethan Goodwin had three hits for the Falcons.  Jack Fickes also homered for Hillsdale and he got the win in relief too.

          Hillsdale (17-3) has won 13 straight games and is the top seed in their division IV sectional in the Northeast District.

          However, Snow says they can’t take anything for granted.  “One thing that I will remind the guys before our first round game is all games matter.  It only takes one good outing by a pitcher to shut you down and a couple of errors here and there.  Cuyahoga Heights and Open Door will play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “Cuyahoga Heights knocked us out last year.  If they happen to win, we have a little motivation.  They lost eight guys, so they are pretty young.  That’s our team, throw strikes and play good defense and find some ways to scape some runs across the board.”

 

Published 5/10/22

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Baseball Matchups Determined

 

          Brackets for the baseball postseason were determined at sectional seed meetings held on Mother's Day.

          Division I schools covered by Swankonsports.com are spread out quite a bit with Ashland and Madison in the Northwest District, Mt. Vernon and Marion Harding in the Central District and Wooster in the Northeast.

          Ashland plays at Sylvania Northview on May 18.  Madison plays Toledo Bowser on May 16th and if they win, they play number one seed Perrysburg.

          “We ended up with the 11th seed, so our options were limited.  We knew were going to have to travel.  We have to so up against the fourth seed in Northview, but we avoid the top three seeds until the district finals,” said Ashland coach Rick Gough.

          “When you’re going on the board where we got to there is only a few options to choose from.  We took a spot where we have a chance to go win a game and then if we do, so we get the number one team.  It’s tournament baseball and anything can happen on any night.  We not us?” said Madison coach Nick Melton.

          Mt. Vernon was the 10th seed in Central District.  The Jackets plays host to either Dublin Jerome of Chillicothe on the 18th.

          “We are excited about the tournament draw this year.  All of the hard work the kids have put into all pays off now.  Obviously, this week is huge for the conference and takes first priority.  The kids will have the same mindset we have harped on all year when it comes to the tournament, one game at a time, one day at a time, just be where your feet are,” said Mt. Vernon coach Nate Hunt.

          Marion Harding hosts Columbus Briggs on the 16th.

          Wooster plays May 19 at home against either Strongsville or Cleveland John Hay.

          “We were fortunate enough to have a solid season, earn the number eight seed and earn a bye into the sectional final.  There is a good possibility we will see a familiar face in Strongsville, who knocked us out last year at their place.  So, hopefully we will be motivated and excited for the opportunity to try and get one back.  They had a lot of other options or bracket lines to fill and jumped into the sectional with us rather quickly.  I am fairly confident our boys understand that.  That won’t be lost in our minds,” said Wooster coach Steve Young.

          In division II, there 11 schools competing in a district where the district action is at Fremont Ross High School.  Norwalk is the top seed, followed Sandusky Perkins, Shelby and Bellevue.

          “Happy to be the number one seed and get a bye.  We have beaten Clyde one and play them again this week.  Sandusky has two wins, one versus Norwalk and one versus Clyde, so there are no easy ways to the district.  We have five tough games this week, all on the road, and excited about the opportunities this week offers,” said Norwalk coach Wes Douglas.

          In the upper bracket, on Wednesday, May 18th Clyde hosts Sandusky with the winner playing at Norwalk on Friday, May 20.

          Also, on the 20th Bellevue is at home for Huron.

          Meanwhile, in the lower bracket, Port Clinton visits Vermilion on May 18 with the winner travels to Perkins on the 20th.

          Also, Clear Fork hosts Mansfield Senior on the 18th and the winner goes to Shelby on May 20.

          “The top teams in the tournament are really good.  We have to be playing our best to have a chance to shake things up,” said Clear Fork coach Joe Staab.

          “We are excited to play a former “OCC” team again.  Even though we have struggled this season, we don’t have to be the better team, we just have to be the better team that day,” said Mansfield Senior coach J.R. Davis.

          “The draw sort of played out the way we thought it would.  Top to bottom it’s a tough district, and even getting out of the sectional will be a challenge for all teams involved,” said Shelby coach Jon Amicone.

          There is also a division II district with finals at Bluffton University.

          Galion plays at St. Mary’s Memorial on May 18 and the winner gets to play at Wapakoneta on the 20th.

          Lexington takes the long bus ride to Celina for a sectional final on May 20.

          “There were a couple of early surprises in the brackets, but we ended up with a good situation to play for a sectional title with our number one pitcher available,” said Lexington coach Kevin Morrow,

          In the lower bracket, Fostoria plays at Elida the 18th and the winner plays at “SBC” Lake leader Tiffin Columbian on the 20th.

          “We are humbled and excited to gain the top seed in the Bluffton District tournament.  We look forward to preparing for either Elida or Fostoria for a sectional title,” said Columbian coach Curt Mellott.

          Upper Sandusky hosts Lima Shawnee on the May 18 and the winner advances to play at Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference leader Ontario on May 20.

          “I like where we are at, but nothing is ever guaranteed.  We still have to go out and play well,” said Ontario coach Mike Ellis.

          In the Central District, Highland is the number 6 seed in division II, and they host Lakewood on May 19.

          “The Mason District should be a fun backet as it features four “LCL” and two “CCL” teams, two of best conferences in Central Ohio.  Lakewood is one of the most storied programs in the state.  They are a scrappy team that is much better than their record of 6-10.  We will need to play a complete game to compete with the Lancers, a team we faced last year in the district championship won 4-3 in 11 innings.  There are no easy paths in the D2 Central District bracket and a win in the sectional championship will get us a game with number 2 ranked Buckeye Valley, champions of the Mid-State League.  They are one of the best hitting teams in Central Ohio and we will definitely have our hands full trying to keep them off the scoreboard,” said Highland coach Donnie Kline.  

          River Valley, also of the “MOAC”, plays at home against Columbus East on May 16,

          Division III a district final is at Norwalk High School the top seed is Margaretta, with Edison number two, Genoa number three and Wynford four.

          Willard plays at Gibsonburg on May 18 and the winner is at Margaretta on Friday, May 20.

          There are two more semis in the upper bracket, Bucyrus is at Genoa and Colonel Crawford is at Crestview on the 18th and the winners play each other on the 20th.

          “It’s a very tough district, a pick your poison situation.  I thought about another line that would have had us playing a lower seed, but playing Edison with a bye if we win.  Crestview will be a challenge,” said Crawford coach Dan Gorbett.

          Western Reserve plays New London on May 18 and the victor advances to Edison.

          “We are excited to get the tournament started.  Our district is full of tough teams, so we will have to come ready to play,” said Edison coach Sean Hoover.

          There are also two semis in the lower bracket with Wynford hosting Woodmore and Seneca East is at home for Oak Harbor, both on the 18th, and the winners face off on the May 20.

          “We are happy to get to host in the sectionals and play a solid Woodmore team that plays in the tough Northern Buckeye Conference, but this week we are focused on Buckeye Central and winning the “N10,” said Wynford coach Tom Smith.

          “We play the number nine seed Oak Harbor. A very good team with a deceiving record due to the competition they play.  This will be a tough game and we will have to bring our “A” game in order to move on,” said Seneca East coach Rick Bowerman.

          In the Central District in division III, Liberty Union is top seeded followed by Fredericktown, Centerburg and Amanda-Clearcreek.

          “No big surprises with how the draw went.  It will be a tough road and we will have to play good baseball to get back to the regional,” said Fredericktown coach Ryan Hathaway.

          The Freddies play at home Thursday, May 19 against either Madison Plains or Johnstown Northridge.  Centerburg hosts Columbus Academy, Marion Pleasant hosts Columbus Bishop Ready, Northmor is at home for West Jefferson, and Mt. Gilead is at Grandview Heights, all of those games are also May 19.

          “The draw went as expected, not too many surprises,” said Northmor coach Buck Workman.

          Up in the Northeast District, a couple of Wayne County Athletic League are the top two seeds in Norwayne and Waynedale.

          In the games, Massillon Tuslaw is at Northwestern, Loudonville meets Wellington, Chippewa visits Smithville and Cleveland Garrett Morgan is at Orrville, all on May 16th.

          Norwayne, Waynedale, and Akron Manchester all have first round byes and will be play at home on May 18.  The Bobcats play the Chippewa/Smithville winner, the Golden Bears have either Brooklyn or Fairview Park and Manchester will play the winner of a game between East Canton and Lutheran West.

          There is a division IV district at Galion where South Central is top seeded, followed by Plymouth, Buckeye Central and Hardin-Northern.

          “The draw was as I expected.  There is a lot of talent on both sides of the bracket, so we are looking forward to getting things started,” said South Central coach Mike Perry.

          On Tuesday, May 17, Upper Scioto Valley is at Mansfield Christian and the winner plays at South Central on the 19th.

          Mohawk plays on the road at Arlington on the 17th with the winner playing at Hardin-Northern on May 19.

          “Things went about as expected.  Being in the middle of the pack is tough because you’re going to play a tough first round game and if you win, you are going to see someone’s ace in the sectional final when yours is no longer available.  We have a pretty tough schedule, so hopefully that has prepared us,” said Mohawk coach Eric Hoover.

          Crestline is at Lucas on the 17th and winner advances to play at Plymouth the 19th and also in the lower bracket Carey is at Ridgemont May 17 and the winner gets Buckeye Central on the 19th.

          “We are happy getting a bye and being able to play for a sectional championship at home.  The kids have worked very hard this season and I am happy for our seniors that they get the opportunity to experience this,” said Buckeye Central coach Chad Jensen,

          There is also a division IV district at Clyde High School.  In that one, Hopewell-Loudon is the number one seed, Norwalk St. Paul is two, New Riegel three and Old Fort four.

          In the matchups, Hopewell-Loudon will play either Sandusky St. Mary’s or Arcadia on May 19.  Vanlue plays at Tiffin Calvert and Cardinal Strict at Fremont St. Joe in semis May 17.

          In the lower bracket, Danbury-Lakeside plays at Toledo Christian on the 17th and the winner plays at Norwalk St. Paul on the 19th.

          “I don’t know much at this point regarding Toledo Christian.  Typically, smaller schools around big cities play much bigger schools, so I expect them to be battle tested.  No matter who wins between Danbury and “TC” we will need to be at our best if we want to advance to the district,” said St. Paul coach Aaron Fries.

          The other semifinal has Monroeville at Old Fort on the 17th with the winner getting New Riegel on May 19.

          In the Central District, teams covered by Swankonsports.com, play in three games on May 18th , Danville is at Millersport, Delaware Christian is at Cardington, and East Knox hosts Harvest Prep.

          In one the division four districts in the Northeast District, Hillsdale in the top seed and will play Open Door Christian or Cuyahoga Heights on May 19.

          “We are proud of our number one seed, but we realize that it is a new season and you have to show up prepared each game or it could be your last,” said Hillsdale coach Jason Snow.

          Rittman, also of the Wayne County Athletic League, plays at home with Cornerstone Christian on May 17,  Mapleton also play the 17th against Andrews Osborne and the winner of that game plays Dalton on the 19th.

 

Published 5/09/22

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Shelby Stays in it; Drops Clear Fork

 

          Shelby beat Clear Fork for the second straight day, this time (12-2) in six innings in Shelby on Thursday evening on a night weather wise seemed more like Seattle in the winter, something we have gotten regrettably used to in 2022.

          The win keeps Shelby within two games of first place Ontario, the Colts drop three back, with three to play.

          Clear Fork (9-7,6-5) took a (2-0) lead in the top of the first on a single by Luke Schlosser and after a sacrifice, an RBI single by Jared Scott.  Scott later scored on a wild pitch by Landon Kennard.  They would not cross home again.

          Shelby made it (2-1) in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Luke Shepherd.  Thy took a (3-2) lead in the bottom of the third on RBI hits by Luke Shepherd and Alex Brushkotter off Clear Fork starter Kaden Riddle.  Shelby left two runners in scoring position in the third, but they would score five times in the fourth to break it open a two-run hit by Kennard, and RBI ground out by Luke Shepherd, a bases loaded walk to Brushkotter.  A Clear Fork error and some defensive miscues led to the big inning and the beat down was on.  Shelby added four more in the sixth to finish off the win.

          Shelby coach Jon Amicone liked the way his team responded to the early deficit.  “That was really nice to see, that is kind of what we talked about after the game.  How proud we were getting in that whole 2-0 right off of the get go.  Clear Fork had the momentum.  Really proud of our guys and how they came back,” he said.

          Clear Fork coach Joe Staab says he team folded when the Whippets were making their comeback.  “We have to compete for a duration of seven innings if we are interested in having the rest of the season be a success as well as a deep run in the tournament.  Mentally (Thursday) we were very weak,” he told Swankonsports.com right after the game, “When the going gets tough we have to find a way to be mentally tougher.  We have to find a way when we do make a mistake to get the next play.  When something doesn’t go well offensively, get the next at bat.  Playing entirely better as a team.”

          Clear Fork’s outfield defense was not up to par and as a team they had three errors and a number of plays that were not made that could have been.

          Luke Shepherd had three hits and three RBI for the Whippets.  As team, Shelby totaled 11 hits.

          Amicone liked their approach at the plate.  “Our kids did a really nice job.  We were hitting fastballs in fastball counts and those are things that we preach.  We did a nice job of moving runners, of bunting and stealing.  It was a really good job offensively of our guys doing what they are supposed to do,” he said.

          Other that some miscommunication that led to an infield pop dropping between three players, the Whippets were pretty clean on defense.  “Our defense did a really nice job behind Landon.  Landon didn’t have his best stuff, but he battled for us.  Looking back at his outing, I thought he had a very competitive outing even thought he didn’t have his best stuff.  He did a really good job of getting some soft contact here and there.  They are a good hitting team.  We knew we couldn’t make any mistakes or they would make it hurt,” said Amicone.

          Clear Fork plays second place Highland twice and “MOAC” leader Ontario once next week.

          Staab says they better be more focused.  “It has been an up and down season which is dealing with mental toughness.  The definition of mental toughness is consistency.  So, we haven’t been very mentally tough this year, which is the reason why we have been very inconsistent.  When we play very well, we can hang with anybody in the area.  When we don’t play very well, we can get beat by anyone in the area,” said Staab.

          Shelby (11-6,7-4) plays Ontario next Tuesday and Wednesday and Amicone says the look forward to the challenge.  “It’s a good rivalry, just like we have a rivalry with Clear Fork.  In Richland County, it’s good baseball, good coaches and good players.  It’s that friendly rivalry.  We need to bring our “A” game.  They are having a tremendous season.  They have some really good players and good coaches.  We need to come ready to play,” said Amicone.

 

Published 5/06/22

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Edison Claims Piece of Bay Division

 

          Edison can do no less than share the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division title after blanking Margaretta (7-0) on a rainy Thursday evening in a game played in Milan.

          Both Margaretta and Huron are game back in the loss column and the Chargers have only one division game left to play.

          Veteran coach Sean Hoover says getting this title feels especially good after coming so close the last couple pf years.  “It definitely does make you feel good.  The kids have worked really hard.  We have been pretty close the last few years.  We have finished second to Huron last year and Vermilion a couple of years before that.  So, it is nice to see our hard work pay off and clinch at least a share,” he said.

          In a big game like this there is no surprise the Chargers (13-7,8-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, would turn the ball over to Thomas Simon and Hoover says he was tremendous.  “Thomas (Simon) threw really well again.  Just five innings with the rain shorten game.  He struck out 10 in five innings, only gave up two hits, really shut their bats down.  A day when it is wet and rainy and the ball is wet and hard for guys to field it is big to have a guy that can strike a lot of players out and make it so you don’t have to field so many balls in bad conditions,” said Hoover.

          Simon (4-1,1.58 ERA) leads the Bay Division in innings pitched (35.33) and strikeouts (59) this season.

          Hoover says he changes speeds and arm angles and can throw three pitches for strikes.  “He can throw three pitches well.  A good curve ball, a really good change up.  It makes him look like he throws harder than a gun might show that he throws.  He throws a lot of balls by guys.  He has different arm slots.  He drops down three quarters on that left side,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “It makes it harder for the batter to pick up the ball.  Between that and being able to mix his pitches very well those are his keys to shutting down the other team.”

 

Published 5/06/22

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Ontario Beats River Valley; Stays in First

 

          Ontario only played an inning of baseball on Thursday, but it was worth it.

          They resumed a game with River Valley and beat them (16-14) in eight innings to keep first place to themselves in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.  They lead Highland by one and Shelby by two.  They play the Whippets in a big series next week.

          Coach Mike Ellis says they knew what they had to do.  “It was a game that started back on April 7.  It was tied 14-14 and we had to call it quits because of darkness and we finally got to finish it (Thursday) night,” he said.

          Ellis says they got some things going right away in the top of the eighth.  “Our batter (Braxton Hall) got up and laced one to centerfield.  The centerfielder tried to make a diving catch and the ball got past him to the fence and he got a triple.  Our second batter (Jake Chapman) hit it to third, he booked it down to first and they overthrew the ball and he ended up at third,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “It was one of those nights when w just took advantage of their errors.  When they came up to bat Braxton Hall set them down 1-2-3 and the game was done.  Pretty much what we were hoping for happened.”

          Ontario (12-3,8-2) also has a makeup game with Clear Fork that is tentatively scheduled for next Friday and needs to finish a game with Marion Harding as well.

          Ellis says they must maintain their focus.  “We have been telling these guys that we take one game at a time and be worried about who we are playing that night.  This league is, as you have seen, anybody can beat anybody.  It’s unbelievable this year the teams.  Like Shelby and Clear Fork, that 1-0, I mean that was a pitching duel.  You have to bring your “A” game every night,” said Ellis.

 

Published 5/06/22

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Crestview Wins Another Important Game

 

          Crestview remains just a game back in the Firelands Conference after the Cougars smoked Mapleton (11-4) on Thursday evening in a conference game played at Crestview.

          The Cougars, along with Norwalk St. Paul, are one game behind first place South Central and Crestview plays at South Central in a huge conference game on Friday if the weather permits, which right now it looks like it may not… go figure.  They also play the Trojans on Saturday, well… they might.

          Coach Don Keener says Thursday night was a big win for the Cougars.  “It was a great win.  The kids are really starting to hit the baseball.  We are getting good pitching.  Mapleton is a very good team.  If you go back and look at their scores they are right in there with everybody that is at the top of the league right now.  They may have even gotten a win.  I know they have to go back and finish something.  They have been playing pretty good too.  The guys the last couple of weeks have really started to pick it up a notch,” said Keener.

          With South Central and St. Paul and Plymouth, Crestview has almost been forgotten this year, btu Keener says they are really in top form right now.  “We are peaking at the right time and that’s what you want to do.  This is the time of the year when you want to play consistent.  If you are going to play consistent, you are going to have a chance to win the ballgame,” he said.

          Crestview (10-7,8-2) also must play Plymouth (11-5,8-3) next week.

          With so many big games, Keener says they have to take them one game at a time and not get ahead of themselves.  “That is the great thing about this.  We didn’t start off so hot at the beginning of the year.  The kids knew they had the potential to be successful.  We have to keep telling them, you have to take one game at a time, that is all you can do.  That is the mentality that we are taking right now.  The only thing you have to worry about is the game you are playing right now.  You can’t worry about what happened yesterday or what is going to happen tomorrow.  We have to take care of game at a time,” said Keener.

 

Published 5/06/22

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Wooster Blanks Ashland; Creates Logjam

 

          Wooster needed to beat Ashland on Wednesday to have a chance to defend its Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball title and they did exactly that in shutting out the Arrows (5-0) in Wooster.

          The Generals, the Arrows and Mt. Vernon, who beat Lexington (4-0) on Wednesday, all have just one “OCC” loss and share first.

          Coach Steve Young says they knew it was a must win.  “We talked about it coming into the week.  We knew what was ahead of us coming into this week.  Obviously, you can only get the one that is in front of you.  We had a baby faced freshman go out there and throw 84 pitches and a complete game and in seven innings give up three hits and help himself out a little bit.  We had some quality at bats offensively.  It was a really, really good team effort.  We played really good defense,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Pitching wise Brady Bowen, he is 4-0 in the league now.  It was a huge performance (Wednesday) night from him.  It only matters though if we go out and do it (Thursday).  If we don’t do it (Thursday) (Wednesday) means nothing.  We talked to the guys about that after the game.  Just kind of take the one that is ahead of you.  (Thursday) is the next one, so we have to go out and get that one too.”

          Wooster (13-4,8-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches in poll in the large school division, plays at Ashland (9-4,8-1) on Thursday.

          Brady Bowen also beat Mt. Vernon last month.

          Young says he is just a young kid having fun.  “He is an awesome kid.  I wish everybody could see his personality too.  He is literally just a freshmen kid playing baseball with his buddies.  That is kind of the mentality that he has.  He has fun and competes and does everything that we ask and is extremely coachable.  It has been an absolute pleasure to coach him this year.  We are excited with what he has done so far and hopefully we can keep this thing rolling,” he said.

          Brady’s older brother Blake Bowen had three hits and three RBI for the Generals.  Sam Nielsen had two hits for Wooster.

          Young says with seven hits they were able to have some success against Ashland starter Luke Bryant.  “We kind of anticipated seeing Luke Bryant (Wednesday) night.  He is their number one.  He has been really, really good for them all year.  We anticipated seeing him.  They wanted to get that first one and we knew that coming in.  Our kids were up to the challenge.  We were able to bang out seven hits, get three earned off of him and five runs total.  I’ll tell you what that kid threw the ball well for a sophomore.  Last year, I know he was a little banged up and didn’t get to pitch a whole lot as a freshman.  He was impressive.  We told him as a coaching staff that he is going to be special in a couple of years.  He was throwing three or four pitches consistently for strikes.  He worked both side of the plate up and down.  We were happy with our guys execution in working counts, trying to get in fastball counts and attacking the fastball when we got it.  That has kind of been the approach all year.  We will look to try and continue that,” said Young.

 

Published 5/05/22

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Shelby Outduels Clear Fork

 

          Shelby scored a run in the first and made it stand up as the Whippets beat Clear Fork (1-0) on Wednesday evening at American Legion Field in Bellville.

          Both trail first place Ontario by two games.  The Warriors game Wednesday with Marion Harding was tied and suspended due to darkness.  Shelby plays Ontario twice next week.  The Colts have a make up with Ontario and play Highland twice next week.  The Scots trail Ontario by one.

          Yes, it’s like trying to figure out a riddle.

          Blaine Bowman doubled in the bottom of the first and scored on a RBI single by Jeremy Holloway and Marshall Shepherd threw the shutout for the Whippets.

          Shelby coach Jon Amicone says it was a tremendous pitcher’s duel between Shepherd and Clear Fork’s Jared Scott.  “We were very fortunate it was a really good baseball game.  The pitching was really good.  Marshall Shepherd has been our guy the entire year much like Jared Scott has been Clear Fork’s guy.  If you wanted to see good pitching in North Central Ohio, you should have been at that game because those were two guys that really battled each other and really fought for their teams,” said Amicone.

          Clear Fork coach Joe Staab says both teams played outstanding baseball.  “It was a great competitive game.  Shelby was able to manufacture a run and made plays behind great pitching.  We played well enough to win.  We pitched a great game and our defense played well enough behind him,” he said.

          Amicone says it always a key for them to score first, especially when Shepherd is pitching.  “We were lucky enough to get one across in the first inning.  That is really key for us.  We want to score first when we are on the road and we were able to do that and at least give “Shep” some comfort early on in the game.  Our defense really did a nice job of getting some key outs that were crucial allowing Marshall to go the distance,” said Amicone.

          Clear Fork nearly tied the game in the bottom of the sixth, but the Whippets threw out Luke Schlosser at the plate as he tried to score from first on a double by Kaleb Hollar.

          Amicone says it took perfect execution by the Whippets.  “Our relay system did a really nice job.  Ball in the gap and a runner on first.  If I am the third base coach, I am pushing the kid home too.  We had a good relay.  The communication was excellent and that was led by Blaine Bowman, our catcher.  He is our communicator when the ball is in play.  He saw the whole field and was communicating that with our shortstop and then Alex Brushkotter made a really nice throw to get him at home,” said Amicone.

          Shelby (10-6,6-4) hosts Clear Fork (9-6,6-4) on Thursday.

          Amicone says it’s a must win.  “You have two teams that are in that must win mode, quite frankly.  The “MOAC” is kind of a wild race this year.  It seems like anyone is beating anyone, so it is still anyone’s game.  Clear Fork is going to come ready to play.  Joe Staab is going to have those dudes ready and we are going to have to bring our “A” game (Thursday),” he said.

 

Published 5/05/22

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Mt. Vernon Moves into Share of First

 

          Mt. Vernon blanked Lexington (4-0) on Wednesday evening and moved into a share of the lead in the Ohio Cardinal Conference with three games to play on their conference schedule.

          They share the lead with Wooster and Ashland.  The Generals beat Ashland (5-0) on Wednesday.  Mt. Vernon has a two game series with the Arrows next week.

          Coach Nate Hunt says they new it was going to be a tough game on Wednesday because they were facing one of the better pitchers in the area in Lexington’s Cole Pauley, an Ohio State recruit.  “We knew (Wednesday) was going to be a tough one, especially knowing, one they were going to be coached up, Kevin is a good coach over there at Lexington, he does a nice job, but also Cole Pauley is just a good pitcher,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “He has a lot of velocity.  Knowing we were going to have to face him and moving forward into the tournament you are going see better pitching.  We had a good week of practice Monday and Tuesday preparing for that.  Eight hits is definitely something to be excited about when facing Pauley.”

          Hunt says their approach against Pauley was to not be too aggressive with the bats and try to make solid contact.  “Our thing for the guys was if you try and match how fast as he is throwing, it you try and swing as fast as he is throwing, you are just not going to make any contact.  You are going to pop up.  We had some good non-conferences.  Granville, same situation, they had a guy that was bringing it.  Just try and make it as short as you can to the zone.  Make good contact.  There were no errors between both of us.  Both pitchers pitching well.  It was a good baseball game,” said Hunt.

          Cash Finnell earned the victory for the Jackets.

          Lexington coach Kevin Morrow says he was in top form.  “Finnel was on his game and pitched an outstanding game,” he said.

          Mt. Vernon (13-4,8-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, will be Lexington (5-10,2-6) on Thursday.  Lexington picked up its biggest win of the season on Monday when then beat “SBC” Lake leader Tiffin Columbian (3-1) in non-conference play.

          Hunt says they have to play Thursday with the same kind of focus.  “The fun part about this conference you get about 24 hours to think about it and then you are right back into it.  We have done a nice job putting ourselves in a good situation.  You just have to focus on what is in front of you.  I heard a great one liner the other day, the reason the rearview mirror is so small and the windshield is so big is you always have to look forward.  We are just taking it one day at a time,” he said.

 

Published 5/05/22

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Highland Stays in Race with Shutout of River Valley

 

          Highland is right there on the doorstep in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference after beating River Valley (8-0) on Wednesday evening in a conference game at River Valley.

          They trail Ontario by just a game.  The Warriors game with Marion Harding on Wednesday night was suspended with the score tied.

          The Scots (12-7,9-3), #5 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, lost (5-1) to River Valley on Monday to fall from a share of the lead.

          Coach Donnie Kline says the assignment for them is clear.  “The way we have kind of treated this is we have turned the rest of the season into a tournament, a three game tournament.  If we lose one game, we are out of the running.  Right now, we need some help, but we are still in the race and it is a lot of fun,” he said.

          Blake Jodrey earned the shutout for the Scots, allowing only four hits.

          Kline says he was very efficient against the Vikings.  “The senior Blake Jodrey threw a complete game shoutout.  He had just 107 pitches, but 12 strikeouts to one walk and four hits.  He kept a pretty solid team off the bases and did a good job and gave our defense a chance to play.  The one thing I can say the most is he really competed out there and gave the boys a chance to win the game,” said Kline.

          Kort Sears had three hits for Highland, including a double, a two RBI.

          Kline says the team did an outstanding job of getting on the scoreboard.  “I think in league play, especially when you get familiar with opponents, it gets harder and harder to score and you need to find different ways to score to be competitive and I think the boys did that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We played some small ball and got 11 hits.  A couple multi hit games for guys and they squared some balls up.  Monday when we lost to River Valley, we tip our caps to them, they had zero errors and played very good defense.  (Wednesday) the balls found a little grass, so we were able to get some runners on there.”

 

Published 5/05/22

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Hillsdale Stays a Game Back

 

          Hillsdale got another win they had to have in blanking Rittman (5-0) on Wednesday evening behind Nick Kandle to remain a game behind Norwayne and Waynedale in the race in the Wayne County Athletic League.

          Norwayne beat Smithville (10-2) and Waynedale shut out Chippewa (10-0) on Wednesday.

          Kandle scattered four hits and struck out 15 Indians on Wednesday.

          Coach Jason Snow says he likes how they are playing right now.  “That is where we have been getting better since the start of the year.  Our pitchers are throwing more strikes and the defense we have cleaned it up quite a bit.  If you hold the other team without any runs, you have a pretty good chance to win,” he said.

          Kandle walked four over seven innings and the Falcons had no errors.

          Mark Able had three of the Falcons seven hits on Wednesday.

          Snow says they hit the ball well, but were a bit unlucky.  “We hit the ball really hard.  In first three or four innings we had a chance to kind of break the game open.  They made a couple of nice plays on a couple of line drives and turned them into some double plays.  Give them a little bit of credit for taking us out of a couple of innings when we could have really blown the game open,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We are trying to schedule some more games, we picked up Norwalk for (Thursday).  We are just trying to find some teams and keep getting better before the tournament run.”

          Hillsdale (15-3,8-3) has won its last 11 games and Snow says they are really playing some excellent baseball.  “It was a little frustrating early in the year.  Part of it was we played to top half of our league early.  We didn’t play really well and to their credit, they did.  We learned quite a bit and made some adjustments and moved some people around a little bit and it seems like we have settled in a little bit right now.  It’s a good time to start playing your best baseball.  We are just trying to keep it going right now,” he said.

 

Published 5/05/22

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Northmor Avoids Rain; Blasts Mt. Gilead

 

          Northmor scored nine times in the first three innings on Tuesday evening and they hammered Mt. Gilead (10-2) in a Knox Morrow Athletic Conference game played at Northmor.

          It was one of the few games in North Central Ohio to be played on Tuesday due to a couple of lines of strong storms.

          Coach Buck Workman says they were fortunate to get it in, but they, and Mt. Gilead, really wanted to play some baseball.  “I didn’t really have high hopes.  We have been so backed up we just had to take a chance.  Fortunate for us Mt. Gilead is not that far away, so they were willing to make that risk.  We were starting a little earlier and I think that helped.  We were able to get started.  We had one 30 minute delay, but we were clean after that,” said Workman.

          This was the final “KMAC” game for the Golden Knights, who are going to finish fourth in the final standings.  They want to fill the rest of the regular season with non-conference games and are looking for a game on Wednesday.  They play Crestline Thursday and Galion and Colonel Crawford next week.

          Grant Bentley got the start and went six innings for the Golden Knights.  He surrendered one hit and struck out nine.

          He did walk five, but Workman says other than the wildness, he did a good job on the hill.  “Outside of a few walks and a couple of hit batters he only have up one or two hits.  He did the job and we made some plays behind him when we had to.  We finally got the bats going, so it was a pretty good night,” he said.

          Northmor (10-7,6-6) banged out 12 hits.  Bentley, Max Lower, Andrew Armrose, Garrett Corwin and Marty Kearns all have two hits for the Golden Knights.  Lower homered, Bentley had a triple and Corwin a double.

          Workman says they finally got some balance in the lineup.  “We have been looking for some of that.  We have been top heavy.  The top of the order has been hitting well all year.  We have been up and down at the bottom.  (Tuesday) night we hit more one through nine,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We at least had some good AB’s, walks, or moved runners.  Up until (Tuesday) night we have been struggling with that.  Max Lower led off the bottom of the first with a home run and that got the guys going a little bit and made it a lot easier.”

 

Published 5/04/22

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Fredericktown Gets Share of “KMAC”

 

          Fredericktown earned a share of the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference title with a (7-3) win over Centerburg on Monday evening at Fredericktown.

          They can win it outright with a win at Centerburg on Wednesday.

          Brady Lester led off the bottom half of the first inning with a solo homer over the centerfield wall, but the Trojans (14-3,9-2) tied it in the top of the second on a hit batter, an error, and Jesse Rings scored on a wild pitch by Kaid Carpenter.

          Like good teams do, the Freddies (13-2,10-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, responded and scored four in their half of the second to take a (5-1) lead.  Korbin McGowan walked and Xavier Mullins doubled to start the inning.  McGowan scored on a ground out by Luke Bean and Mullins crossed plate on an error.  After a sacrifice by Alex Selby, Lester was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Carpenter singed to make it (4-1) and the final run of the inning scored when Branden Sapp walked with the bases loaded.  That chased Centerburg starter Daniel Lemaster, who took the loss.

          Fredericktown made it (7-1) with two in the third.  Mullins, Teegan Ruhl, and Selby loaded the bases with singles and Lester doubled two home.

          Fredericktown coach Ryan Hathaway said they had to keep adding on.  “We knew we had to put a lot of runs together against a team like Centerburg because they were going to come in and keep hitting the baseball all night, so we knew we had to try and stay ahead.  It seemed like they kept getting the tying runs and getting their kids to the plate, so we knew it was going to be a long one if we didn’t continue to hit and try and get base runners on,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We kind ran ourselves out of that inning when we had four, we made an aggressive play right there, but I thought if we could have kept the bases loaded we could have got a few more runs in that situation, but that’s baseball.

          Carpenter tried to score on a wild pitch on ball four to Sapp, but was tagged out.

          Centerburg coach Josh Moss says that second inning was the difference maker in his option.  “We knew coming in the margin for error (Monday) was pretty thin.  One thing about Fredericktown is Ryan does a good job with those guys.  They always seem to play good defense.  They always seem to have one guy on the mound that can go out and win a game.  Timely hitting, I don’t know how many two strike hits they had.  They did a great job moving guys over.  That one inning, Lou Piniella said best, he could look at 80 percent of his losses and attribute them to one bad inning and that was us,” said Moss.

          Centerburg struck for two in the top of the fifth an RBI single by Grayson Reynolds and a run on a wild pitch by Carpenter.

          Kaid had some command issues during the middle innings, but he retired eight of the last nine Trojans he faced to put the game away.

          Hathaway says they he was able to settle down and start to use his off speed stuff more the last two innings.  “His pitch count started getting up a little bit.  I thought he was throwing a lot of pitches early.  He really didn’t settle it until late.  I think he was very pumped up for the game, so a lot of fastballs were staying up.  You can’t do that against good hitters like they have on their team.  I thought he bounced back and started throwing his off speed for a strike and late in the game he was able to keep them off balance,” said Hathaway.

          Carpenter ended up with 12 strikeouts and no walks allowing eight hits over seven innings.

          Moss says Carpenter was able to make some adjustments.  “I tip my cap to Kaid, he is a competitor.  I like watching the way he plays the game.  He plays hard, he is gritty.  We made some adjustments, and credit our guys, we started putting the barrel on the ball.  He started mixing it up and started going to his off speed.  He came out and showed why he is one of the best guys in our league on the mound,” he said.

          Mullins had three hits for the Freddies, Letser, Carpenter and Ruhl had two.  Dalton Hall had three for Centerburg.

          Fredericktown shared the “KMAC” title with Highland, now a member of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, last season and Hathaway says they want to take care of business on Wednesday.  “We want to try and go out and win it outright and not have to worry about any other games.  We are honestly treating it like it is tournament style baseball at this point.  Going down to their place and seeing what kind of team they have after (Monday) it is going to be a good test for us to see where we are as far as where we stand going into the tournament with these guys,” he said.

 

Published 5/03/22

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Norwalk With Big Win over Clyde

 

          Norwalk remained two games behind Tiffin Columbian in race for the title in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference with a (5-4) win over Clyde on Monday evening in Norwalk.

          Veteran coach Wes Douglas says it gives them a chance to get a piece of that title.  “It keeps alive mathematically.  (Columbian) has to go and play a good Perkins team on Wednesday.  I will be rooting for Perkins in that one,” he said.

          Douglas says Norwalk (12-4,7-3), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, got one big inning and a gutsy pitching performance to get the win on Monday.  “We got one in the first inning.  Our lefthander Buddy Baker, they timed him up.  They took a 3-1 lead with three runs in the third.  We bounced right back with four run inning to go up 5-3,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “They chipped away in the last inning to get one with a couple of guys on base, but Buddy closed it out.  He went the distance and our defense was good enough and we put together one good crooked number.”

          Douglas says that four spot they got us huge for them and they got a big hit from an unexpected source.  “There were a bunch of guys that contributed there.  Jessie Cole, who we have DH’d for most of the year came up with a big hit in an extra inning win Saturday against Edison and he pitched seven innings of relief in that game.  He had a two run single with two strikes and two outs (Monday) in the nine hole and that scored our third and fourth runs of that inning,” he said.

          Douglas adds that Baker gave them a tremendous performance, especially in the later innings.  He says Baker is a kid that wants the ball.  “When Buddy is on the mound, he doesn’t think there is anybody better in the world.  That is his attitude.  He was pretty calm and got the ball back and went to work.  He was behind in some counts and worked out of it.  We had a couple of errors in there that did not go his way.  There was no bad body language.  He just got the ball back.  Some guys are just really comfortable on the mound and he is one of them,” said Douglas.

 

Published 5/03/22

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St. Paul Edges Plymouth; Stays a Game Back

 

          Luke Bloom singled home Eli Fisher in the bottom of the seventh to give Norwalk St. Paul a (4-3) win over Plymouth on Monday evening in Norwalk and keep the Flyers a game behind first place South Central.

          South Central buried Monroeville (21-0) and Crestview, also a game back, beat Mapleton (12-1) in five innings on Monday.

          St. Paul coach Aaron Fries says the got a big hit and that was the difference.  “They are definitely a good baseball team and we knew we had a challenge a head of us to keep ourselves in the race and we were able to play a nice ballgame.  It was really well played high school baseball game a fortunately for us were able to get that hit in the bottom of the seventh to drive home the winning run,” he said.

          Bloom also got the win in pitching two solid innings in relief of Fisher.

          Big hits were missing in (4-3) and (8-7) losses to South Central last week, but Fries says they stepped up on Monday.  “We got it (Monday) night.  Not just that one, but we had another inning when we had two out base hit that plated a run.  Those are big.  Those are things we didn’t have last week where we had a lot of opportunities and ended up dropping a couple of one runs games.  Those very opportunities we did not capitalize on last week and (Monday) we did,” he said.

          St. Paul (13-6,9-2) plays at Plymouth (11-5,8-3) on Tuesday if Mother Nature allows.  It will be a huge game for both.

          Fries says Monday was a game they had to have.  “There is no doubt about it, we had to have (Monday) night and it was going to be a challenge, we knew that.  We were facing a kid that no-hit us last year in Carson Wentz and he pitched a great game.  We were just fortunate to battle him enough and to pull one out.  Our backs were against the wall, we needed this one to keep ourselves in the race,” said Fries.

 

Published 5/03/22

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Bellevue Downs Perkins

 

          Bellevue trails “SBC” Lake leading Tiffin Columbian by three games after the Redmen beat Perkins (8-5) on Monday evening at Perkins.

          The Redmen have a outside chance to earn a share of the title.  Perkins is eliminated.

          Bellevue (9-7,5-4) scored three times in the top of first inning and never trailed in the game as Ethan Mohr won his third straight start, two of them coming against Perkins (11-6,6-4).

          Coach Andy Dennings says they really needed the win to have any chance of a title. “It was a really big win.  Perkins is a really good team.  I think they were a game in front of us in the league.  We are just trying to get better.  We know we have an outside shot.  We need a little help.  We have Columbian coming to town on Monday and we have to take care of business up to that point.  We would love to take care of what we can and see where the chips fall,” he said.

          The Redmen added two in the fourth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh.

          Dennings says they got good at bats throughout the lineup.  “We were really competitive one through nine.  I think our bottom four guys had half of our hits if not more.  They did a nice job.  They drove some runs in there and set some tables.  We were able to do some things offensively.  The (Ben) Keller kid threw a nice ball game.  He mixed his pitches up well.  We were competitive one through nine and we were able to play a little small ball, drive some balls and extend innings.  We had some really big two strike hits hat plated some runs.  In was a really nice game for us offensively,” said Dennings.

          Bellevue plays Sandusky and Vermilion this week and then ends its conference schedule with Columbian next Monday.

          Dennings says they just want to play good baseball.  “The goal to always be playing for something in May and we have an opportunity.  It is outside.  We are going to play important games.  We are building toward the tournament and if the “SBC” Lake works out, awesome.  These kids deserve it,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “They are a good group of kids.  They play extremely hard and are coachable and fun to be around.  If that doesn’t work out, we want to play in competitive games.  Our goal is to get better every time we step on the field and play really good baseball heading into the tournament, like we were able to do last year.”

 

Published 5/03/22

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Fredericktown Rallies Past Cardington

 

          Fredericktown scored three times in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat Cardington (6-5) and remain unbeaten in play in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference.

          Centerburg, who beat Mt. Gilead (12-4) on Thursday, trails by a game in the “KMAC” standings.  The two teams are scheduled to play next Monday and Wednesday.

          Coach Ryan Hathaway says Thursday that got some clutch hits when they had to have them, including the game winner from Braden Sapp.  “We found a way to get on base and just strung a couple of hits together.  We ended up getting guys on second and third and our four hole Braden Sapp came up and got a hit down the line that ended up sealing the game.  It was a tough win,” he said.

          Hathaway says the Freddies (10-2,7-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, have not been getting the big hit and hopefully Thursday’s rally can get them on a roll.  “It is something we have been needing.  The last couple of games.  We have been in tight games and we have left a lot of runners on third base and been looking for that hit.  (Thursday) night we finally go it,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “It is just something that you have to keep trying to work for, especially with tournament coming up just putting those guys in different situations.  Hopefully, they are ready to produce where their name is called.”

          The Freddies had 14 hits on Thursday.  Sapp, Brady Lester, Kaid Carpenter, Trevor Jones and Daichi Yarnazaki all had two for Fredericktown.  Carpenter had three RBI.

          Hathaway says it looked like they were going to hit on Thursday and eventually they did a get the big hit.  “We took batting practice on the field and it was probably one of the best batting practices that was have had all season. Then we get out in the game and we really couldn’t get hits early on.  It was one of those things where you have to have game situations and put the pressure on them.  You try to simulate it in practice, but obviously it is not the same as a game.  It was good to see our kids step up,” said Hathaway.

 

Published 4/29/22

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Tiffin Columbian Takes Command in Lake Division

 

          Tiffin Columbian beat Bellevue (1-0) on Thursday and took a two game lead in the tough Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          They lead Bellevue, Norwalk, Sandusky Perkins and Clyde by two games.

          Again, it was a tremendous performance by starter Carson Mellott as he outdueled Tyler Ray in an outstanding pitcher’s duel.

          Coach Curt Mellott says the Tornadoes just battled.  “That is out team motto for the year, find a way and we definitely did.  Carson (Mellott) was definitely great (Thursday) night.  He gets 12 strikeouts.  He scattered four hits.  Tyler Ray for them was phenomenal too.  He only gave up two hits.  We put a lot of balls in play and loaded the bases several times, we just couldn’t get that big hit when we needed it.  We still found a way.  It was a great ballgame, a clean ballgame.  Just well played on both sides,” he said.

          Mellott says the winning run came on a bases loaded walk.  He says he was prepared to try a squeeze, but he didn’t have to.  “Our run came on a walk of all things.  I was getting ready to call a squeeze potentially, we had not done that all year, I thought maybe that was the time, had to get something on the board to get the lead, it was one of the very few times he helped us out.  He threw ball four and we got a free run there.  Credit the pitchers, we were just trying to get something on the board for Carson,” he said.

          Columbian (13-2,6-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, has a little breathing room in the standings, but Mallott says with Norwalk, Perkins and Bellevue again all left to play, nothing is for certain.  “We have some room.  We talked on Wednesday when we played Vermilion, we felt like we were kind of coming out of ourselves and worrying about things that was out of our control.  What our record is, what other people think about us in rankings, what our batting average is.  We talked (Thursday) about just trying to maintain the standards, playing for each other, finding ways to represent ourselves as quality individuals and let the scoreboard take care of itself,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I felt (Thursday) the kids just embodied that in the way they played.  They didn’t let a mistake here or there get to them.  They just kept grinding with great at bats.  Like I said, a lot of balls were put in play productively, we just couldn’t find the hole.  There was phenomenal pitching and defense.”

 

Published 4/29/22

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Crestview Stays in Share of First

 

          Crestview blasted Western Reserve (15-1) in a Firelands Conference game on Thursday evening and that keeps them in a share of first place in the conference standings.

          South Central beat Plymouth (2-0) on Thursday to maintain its share of the lead.

          Coach Scott Durbin says they Lady Cougars (10-4,7-1) came into the game with the right mindset.  “We have talked to our girls a lot over the last week that the only team we have to worry about is us.  We have to go out and take care of us.  He have to be focused no matter who is on the field against us.  To Western’s credit they played us 6-4 the first time around.  The Prince girl is a solid pitcher.  So, we came out focused.  We were focused on what we had to do and it worked out well for us,” said Durbin.

          Crestview was able to light up the scoreboard on Thursday and Durbin says they had a lot of kids get into the act.  “We did a lot of good things with the bats.  The top of the order was on base all night long.  Sophie Durbin, Mary Leeper, P.J. Endicot were just on base all night long.  We were able to steal a lot bases,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “Then towards the end of the game the bottom of the lineup really came through for us and moved runners and got on base for the top of lineup to drive them in.  We had a girl Kylee Owens, who sees her first action of the year due to injury and she comes up with two hits for us.  It was good top to bottom.”

          Crestview lost to South Central (9-2) back on April 19.  They are scheduled to play them again on May 6. 

          Durbin says it is important they take these games one game at a time and not look ahead.  “We have to go out and focus on us every night.  We have New London on Friday and that’s our next challenge.  We have to look at the challenge that is ahead of us.  If we take care of our business we get South Central again.  We have some tough games coming up.  Anytime you can control your own destiny, it’s a good place to be,” he said.

 

Published 4/29/22

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Crawford Gets Past Carey

 

          Brennan Hamilton threw a one-hitter and Colonel Crawford edged Carey (2-1) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference baseball game played in Carey on Thursday evening.

          Coach Dan Gorbett says Hamilton was at the top of his game against the Blue Devils.  “We had great pitching by Brennan Hamilton.  He had all four of his pitches going, kept them off balance.  He had a no hitter going until one out in the seventh inning.  The first three innings were 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, so he was outstanding as was the Carey pitcher, their fullback (Jordan Vallejo) on their state championship football team.  He throws pretty hard and is a very good pitcher too,” said Gorbett.

          Hamilton was able to throw all four his pitches for strikes on Thursday.  Gorbett says really good high school pitchers have a least thee pitches they can consistently throw for strikes and get hitters out.  “The ones that are really good have at least three.  I would say for most kids it is fastball and curve.  Hamilton has a cutter and a changeup.  He was throwing them all for a strike,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “A lot of kids say they have a pitch, but if you can’t throw it for a strike you don’t have that pitch.  That is why Drayton Burkhart last year was so outstanding because he could throw all of his pitches for a strike and that is tough on a high school hitter.”

          The Eagles (6-7,4-5) found a way to get two runs on Thursday and needed them both.

          Gorbett says the first one was without a hit.  “We got on via an error, stole second, wild pitch to third and they tied to pick him off and it was a bad throw, that was our first run.  The Feichtner and McKibben had doubles to score our other run.  So, we earned one and one we manufactured and it helped us a lot,” he said.

 

Published 4/29/22

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Clear Fork Hammers Harding

 

          Clear Fork stayed a game back in the race in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference by demolishing Marion Harding (16-3) in a game played Wednesday evening in Marion.

          The Colts trail co-leaders Highland and Ontario, who both won on Wednesday as well.  The Warriors beat Pleasant (5-2) and Highland pounded Galion (17-2).

          Clear Fork had the bats rolling on Wednesday as they totaled 12 hits off Harding pitching.

          Coach Joe Staab says they broke out of a slump.  “The bats broke out and we put the ball in play quite a bit one through nine in the lineup.  We ended up having double digit hits as a team.  The wealth was spread and the boys were having fun rallying together.  The hitting was contagious.  It was a shining moment because we had about the same amount of hits the past few games as we had (Wednesday) night.  So, it was really good to see,” he said.

          Luke Schlosser had three hits on Wednesday.  Jared Scott, Jay Jackson and Garett Hotz all had two.  Only three kids that played did not have a hit for Clear Fork and everybody reached base at least once.  Scott and Schlosser both had home runs.

          Staab says they had a good approach at plate, which has not been the case lately.  “We had a good approach (Wednesday) night.  I think that is one thing that helped.  We really tried to focus on the approach going to the batter’s box and not worrying about the outcome so much.  Just trust the process and try make solid contact and see what happens.  A lot of times we go out there trying to do more than we need to do.  Trying to keep it simple stupid worked,” he said.

          Clear Fork (8-5,6-3) broke a four game losing streak with a (4-1) win over Harding at home on Tuesday.

          Staab says they have played some good teams and he hopes that competition makes them a better team.  “The past two weeks we have been very humbled.  We didn’t play our best coming out against Marion Pleasant.  Then we go up and play Perrysburg and we kind of knew what we had going into that.  We weren’t playing our best baseball at the time, but we got to go up and see what good baseball is like.  Playing the competition and the schedule in some of those games you are not expecting to go up there and win, but be competitive and play against competitive teams.  Hopefully, that is going to work out in our favor in the final stretch of the year,” said Staab.

 

Published 4/28/22

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Colonel Crawford Continues to Roll

 

          Colonel Crawford blanked Wynford (12-0) on Wednesday in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game played at Wynford.

          The win keeps the Lady Eagles (13-2,8-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com softball coaches poll in the small school division, is a share of first place with Carey, who beat Bucyrus (14-4) on Wednesday.

          Now, Crawford had just beaten Wynford (11-1) on Tuesday, but coach Sarah Fraser says they came into the game with good focus.  “We were pretty focused.  We talked about how the same situation happened when they played Mohawk.  They lost to Mohawk the first game and came back and beat them the second game.  We really tried to focus in and make sure that wasn’t our fate this week, so we did well,” she said.

          Crawford has relied on its pitching and defense.  Other than losses to Lexington of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, the Lady Eagles have only allowed more than one run twice, and that was in two wins over Wayne County Athletic Conference leader Hillsdale.

          Fraser says against Wynford they were solid.  “(Tuesday) Lauren (Frietchen) had one strikeout, which is very uncharacteristic for her.  She averages eight, nine, 10 strikeouts a game.  So, our defense was impactable (Tuesday) with no errors.  We go it done,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “Then again (Wednesday) I think she did have eight or nine strikeouts, but defensively we also had to make plays.  When those things are hitting on all cylinders, we got another shutout so that was great.”

          Colonel Crawford began to build its lead a little more in the later innings Wednesday.  Fraser says they started to loosen up.  “It was 4-0 going into the fourth inning.  Our team has a bad habit of pressing and trying to be perfect and going into that inning we talked about lighting up a little bit and have fun.  I don’t care if you have to cheer like you are an 8-U team.  Just lighten up and have fun and that’s when we broke it all open,” said Fraser.

 

Published 4/28/22

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Columbian Maintains Division Lead

 

          Tiffin Columbian retained a one game lead over Clyde and Bellevue in the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division by outscoring Vermilion (13-6) Tuesday night in Tiffin.

          Columbian (12-2,5-1),#1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, plays Bellevue on Thursday in an important game for both.

          Coach Curt Mellott says Wednesday they swung the bats pretty well.  “Our bats did a nice job all game collectively.  We had some good swings and even the outs were pretty hard.  I am really happy with where we are trending offensively.  We just made a lot of good contact.  We took advantage of some situations as well, from some defensive mistakes, to score some extra runs,” said Mellott.

          Mellott says fundamentally they talk about going to the plate with a plan in mind and that is especially important with two strikes.  “For us we continually talk about having quality at bats.  Wanting to really drive the baseball bare minimum with two strikes and put it in play, so they have to do something with it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We understand strikeouts occur, but we really value on base percentage over about anything besides runs scored.  Those two are kind of our big parameters for us offensively.”

          It is a very close race, as predicted in the Lake Division, Norwalk beat Perkins (5-0) on Wednesday, and they both trail by two games.

          Mellott says they have to keep their noses to the grindstone.  “This week we have three very tough league games.  We have Bellevue coming up (Thursday), we have Sandusky on Friday and we are going to flip right around and play Sandusky again early next week.  It just keeps coming and coming and everybody is gunning for you for those obvious reasons.  You have to be ready to play each and every day,” he said.

 

Published 4/28/22

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Shelby Edges River Valley

 

          Shelby got past River Valley (9-8) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Tuesday evening to stay in touch with the conference leaders.

          The win kept the Whippets in striking distance in the league as they trail co-leaders Highland and Ontario by two games.  Highland destroyed Galion (17-2) and Ontario beat Marion Pleasant (5-2) on Wednesday.

          The mercury didn’t get above 45 degrees and it was windy again Wednesday, but coach Jon Amicone says you have to deal with it.  “It was another cold day out there for both teams.  You just have to battle through the weather.  Every team is dealing with it in North Central Ohio.  You don’t want to use it anytime as an excuse, any type of reason why you don’t preform.  At the end of the day, it is all about throwing and catching.  When you simplify the game that way good things will happen.  I thought our guys did a good job (Wednesday) night dealing with the atmosphere,” said Amicone.

          Shelby lost (1-0) to River Valley on Tuesday and they have played a lot of close games this year.  The beat Highland (7-6) last week.

          Amicone says the way they approach the game leads to those kinds of results.  “We are very comfortable playing in those types of games.  The things that we preach and we really work on in practice will lead to close games.  We try to put a lot of pressure on our guys in practice with situational type baseball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “That way when we get into games and these pressure packed situations the game can slow down for our guys.  They are very comfortable playing in those situations.  We have a lot of seniors that play for us.  It doesn’t bother our guys at all.  We understand there are 21 outs in a game.”

          A longtime sports axiom is you can’t think, you must react.  Amicone says that is true and he believe the Whippets (9-5,5-4), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, do a good job with that concept.  “We spend a lot of time, as I mentioned earlier, with situational baseball.  That is the way we work in practice.  With different situations, I think the more times you see those plays defensively and offensively the game can slow down for you.  I think the way you prepare to play the game can help you be more reactionary, instead of thinking about what is going on.  I think as long as you prepare for those types of situations it can really help your guys when it comes to game time,” he said.

 

Published 4/28/22

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Lexington Blanks West Holmes

 

          Lexington downed West Holmes (3-0) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game played outside of Millersburg on Wednesday evening.

          Again, it was an outstanding performance by senior pitcher Cole Pauley.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says Pauley says dominate against the Knights.  “Cole has been on his game here.  He did an excellent job (Wednesday) night.  He was really dominate and went all seven.  He had 14 strikeouts and only gave up a couple of hits.  The defense was decent.  I think we had three errors, but our shortstop Basolone made several nice plays,” he told Swankonpsports.com after the win, “We just scratched enough across there late in the game to get the win for Cole.  He was really dominate for sure.”

          Morrow says they got some hits and got on base quite a bit against West Holmes, but he says they did not get many clutch hits.  “We had 10 hits.  Most of those came in the back half of the game.  We left the bases loaded quite a few times.  With 10 hits and only three runs, we just couldn’t get the right hit.  You just have to find a way to win and their relief pitcher came in and he walked a couple of guys and we pushed across just enough runs to win.  We will take it,” said Morrow.

          Lexington (4-8,2-5) lost to West Holmes at home (11-0) on Tuesday, but Morrow says the way the “OCC” schedule is set up it gives you a second chance and they were able to take advantage of that.  “In baseball playing back to back, you always get that second chance.  If you don’t win that first one you get another day and play that same team and kind of redeem yourself from the night before and that is exactly what the kids did,” he said.

 

Published 4/28/22

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South Central Takes Lead

 

          South Central took sole possession of the first place in the Firelands Conference with a (4-3) win over Norwalk St. Paul in a game played Tuesday evening in Norwalk.

          Coach Mike Perry says it was a nice win, but they have to keep playing well.  “I mean St. Paul has eight wins in the conference and we have four, so you do not count your chickens before they are hatched.  We still have a lot of work to do if we want to think about winning the conference.  I told them after the game, St. Paul has won things thing five years in a row and they are not going to lay down for anybody.  They are going to give us their best shot (Wednesday), so we better come ready to play some ball,” said Perry.

          St. Paul (12-3,8-1) coach Aaron Fires says they didn’t get the clutch hits they needed.  “South Central did a better job than us with runners in scoring position.  Both teams had several opportunities and they just cashed in a few more than we did.  It was a good high baseball game, unfortunately we just came up a little bit short.  Hopefully, (Wednesday) we can turn the tables,” said Fries.

          South Central starter Karl Ferber took a shutout into the sixth inning and Perry says again he was efficient.  “He does what he does.  The eight strikeouts were great, but the zero walks we will take that.  If you don’t throw baserunners out there all of the time with free passes you are usually going to be successful.  He was very efficient,” he said.

          South Central (8-1,4-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, scored three times in the first inning and Perry says they stung the ball pretty good.  “I told the kids after the game that big hits can come anytime of the game.  We had a two run double by our freshman Aaron Haluer in the first inning.  We put three on them in first inning and I’ll take that when you can jump on a team early,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We were squaring a lot balls up, but we had six or seven lineouts to outfielders that we hit right on the nose, but right at people.  Sam (Seidel) has a big hit in the top of the sixth to give us a 4-0 lead.  We came back and scored three in the bottom on the sixth, but Sammy was able to come in and shut them down in the bottom of the seventh.”

          Seidel, headed to Bowling Green two play division I college baseball next year, is an outstanding fielder as well as hitter.  He closed the game for the Trojans in the seventh.  Perry says he is a dynamite player.  “He is a fantastic player, a great kid and joy to coach.  You really get excited about that kid’s future at Bowling Green, but I’m not going to worry about that.  I’m happy to have him while I have him.  I am not in a hurry to get rid of him yet,” he said.

 

Published 4/27/22

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Wooster Downs Madison

 

          Wooster scored six runs in the fifth and sixth innings combined and they downed Madison (6-2) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball game in Wooster on Tuesday evening.

          Brady Bowen had 11 strikeouts in going all seven for the Generals (10-3,5-1) on Tuesday.

          Wooster coach Steve Young says it was not their best performance, but they found a way to get it done.  “We have had better days, but it was one of those when you kind of grind through it, but in the end worry about the outcome.  Their kids did a great job, their pitcher did a great job and filled it up with three different pitches.  We have kind of seen their box scores all season and they have been in a lot of tight games.  We told our guys to stick with and grind through and it the end we were able to make some plays and get some clutch, hard hit balls.  We will take it and hopefully learn from it and try and do it again (Wednesday),” he said.

          Madison (1-9,1-6) played pretty well again.  Coach Nick Melton says it was a couple of plays that sunk them.  “Once again, we got a solid outing on the mound for our starting pitcher Gavin Cates.  He was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes and keep us in the ballgame.  We made a couple of mistakes in the field and they absolutely cost us.  We played really well defensively outside of two plays and those two plays ended up being the difference in the game,” he said.

          As balanced as the “OCC” has been, Young says you have to be at the top of your game to be successful.  “That is what we have been emphasizing with our guys.  We need to make sure that every single game is an individual challenge and we try and get each and every one of them.  There are no days off.  There are a lot of good arms in this league and there are a lot of good players.  We want to make sure we give ourselves the best opportunity to come out on top after seven innings, and so far we have done a decent job of that,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Honestly, we still feel like we haven’t played our best baseball and we are hoping that is coming soon.  We have a pretty young group and we are just competing and grinding out as needed.  I will say our guys compete.  It doesn’t matter if we are up seven or down seven, our guys just compete every single pitch.  That is what we ask them to do.  Fortunately, for us this year it has worked out more times than it hasn’t.”

          Ashland, who beat Mansfield Senior (11-0) on Wednesday, still leads Wooster and Mt. Vernon by a game in the “OCC” standings.

          Young says they understand their task is to keep winning.  “We told our guys we have a zero margin for error, so it was good to get this one.  We have to bounce back (Wednesday) and we are going to see their best pitcher.  Ashland keeps winning and that is great ballclub they have over there and Mt. Vernon keeps winning.  At the end of this season, it is going to be interesting to see who comes out on top because there are a lot of good teams fighting it out right now.  We are just trying to give ourselves the best chance to win in the end and that comes with checking them off one game at a time.  You can’t win two or three, you can only win the one in front of you.  That is what our focus has been and will continue to be,” said Young.

 

Published 4/27/22

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Seneca East With Big Win over Buckeye

 

          Seneca East kept themselves in the race in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference with a big (4-2) win over Buckeye Central at home outside of Attica on Tuesday evening.

          They are now tied with Buckeye and Upper Sandusky and trail Wynford by a game in the conference standings.  Wynford beat Colonel Crawford (12-2) on Tuesday.

          Coach Rick Bowerman says it was a big win for the Tigers.  “That keeps right in the hunt.  We knew Buckeye was going to be tough.  There were at the top of the league with Wynford and we had to come in an plays well.  It was a great game for both teams,” he said.

          Starter Brandon Hines allowed a run in the first inning, but Seneca East (8-5,5-2) battled back with two in the bottom half on an RBI single by Mason Foos.

          Bowerman says that was key for them.  “We gave up a run in the top of the first.  We come back and get two guys on, second and third, and I thought here we go, we got a strikeout and a pop out, so now there are two outs, but the number five hitter comes up huge with a base hit up the middle and we scored two runs,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “I think that gave us a lot of confidence.  From there our pitching we great, our defense was great, and we were able to hold them.”

          Hines helped himself with a two run hit in the fifth for the Tigers.

          Seneca East has no errors in a close game against the Bucks and Bowerman says that was important, plus he says Hines gave up only one free pass.  “Our defense made all of the plays we needed to make.  Our pitcher only allowed one walk.  That has been a problem the first few weeks of the season.  Our pitcher would give up too many walks and hit batters and gave them too many baserunners.  (Tuesday) night our pitcher Brandon Hines threw exceptionally well,” said Bowerman.

 

Published 4/27/22

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Norwalk Keeps Playing Well

 

          Norwalk demolished Sandusky (10-0) in six innings on Tuesday evening in Sandusky to stay in the race in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          The win avenged an upset loss to the Blue Streaks (6-0) back on April 7.

          Coach Wes Douglas says it was pretty sweet.  “It was supposed to home, but we had to move it over there.  The first time we went over there was the first time we had lost to them in eight or nine years and it didn’t go our way,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “So, to go over there (Tuesday) night and win 10-0 in six innings and keep the ship righted here going into a big game with Perkins (Wednesday).  We went over there and got the job done.  We used three pitchers and hit three home runs and took care of business.”

          It this era of high school baseball teams don’t hit three home runs in a game very often, but Douglas says they were able to puts some good swings on the ball.  “The wind was going out, but these balls were all squared up and were legit.  Ian Minor in the first inning, Kelton Chapin in the nine hole, not sure the last time we had a home run in the nine hole, and Eli Oblinger in the top of our order, who has been hitting the ball well lately, all squared one up and left the park,” said Douglas.

          Keep in mind it was only 37 degrees at gametime in Sandusky and the ball doesn’t travel well when it is that cold.

          Norwalk (8-4,4-3) has a big game with Perkins on Wednesday, one they will need to win.

          Douglas says he has been impressed with how they have been playing.  “Our other losses are to Defiance, number one in the state, Tiffin and Perkins, who are also in the top 13 or 14 in the state.  I have a nice group of kids that come to play every day.  We love their attitude and their effort.  Some days baseball doesn’t always go your way.  We have lost to three quality teams and we had the one hiccup.  Other than that, we are pretty satisfied,” he said.

 

Published 4/27/22

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Crestview Thrashes New London

 

          Crestview hammered New London (10-0) in a Firelands Conference baseball game played at Crestview on Tuesday evening.

          Coach Don Keener says it was a solid performance for the Cougars (6-7,4-2) on Tuesday.  “It was an all around great effort by everybody.  It is one of those things when you need pitching, defense and hitting, clutch hitting, and we had all of those things (Tuesday) night.  I think the guys came ready to play,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “The last week or so, we have been playing some pretty good baseball.  We have lost some games to some really good teams.  I think we are starting to find some consistency we hope.”

          Crestview plays at New London Wednesday in the rematch.

          Kenner says they have been playing with a little more comfortable lately.  “I just think the kids need to get more comfortable.  Unfortunately, sometime is the spring it takes you a little bit longer to get going and with how the weather has been and all of that stuff.  Everybody is in the same situation.  When you adjust from basketball or wrestling to baseball, I think sometimes it takes a little bit to get your timing and that stuff going,” said Keener.

          Consistency is something that comes a little slower sometimes with baseball, according to Keener because you can’t practice outside as much as you may wnt to.  “Especially the hitting side of things and defensively you don’t get those fly balls.  You can only do so much in the gym with outfielders.  You can work your fundamentals with infielders, but it is still not the same as being on the real field,” he said.

 

Published 4/27/22

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Ontario Shares “MOAC” Lead

 

          Ontario avoided the rain and beat Galion (10-0) in five innings Monday and remained in a share of first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

          They share that lead with Highland, a game in front of Marion Pleasant, Shelby, Marion Harding and Clear Fork.

          Coach Mike Ellis says they were able to take command early in the game.  “It was really rough out there with the wind and the rain belting you in the face, but the kids were up to it and took advantage of Galion’s pitching.  They walked eight of our guys and we took advantage of that and jumped on them early in the first inning 6-zip and added three in the second and one in the third and was able to close it out,” he said.

          Ontario got another pretty good pitching performance from Peyton Dzugan.  Ellis says he got outs when he needed them, but he was wild, and that was expected.  “Peyton Dzugan worked the whole game.  He struck out five and walked six.  He hasn’t pitched very much for us this year.  It has been hard with all the rain outs.  Then here lately a couple of our guys pitched complete games.  So, its is hard to get guys in when guys are pitching compete games.  He went the distance for us and thew a no hitter.  I was pleased with that, but as I told him, we need to cut down on those walks,” said Ellis.

          Ontario (6-3,4-2) has won six of its last seven games, losing (7-6) to Wooster Triway in a non-league game on Saturday.  They play at home against Pleasant on Tuesday in “MOAC play.

          Ellis says they want to continue to try and get better as they look to defend their “MOAC” co-title.   “You have to realize our first two games were against Highland.  We had to kind of step back and say alright, what kind of team are we?  I think now we are starting to figure it out,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We played Wooster Triway here on Saturday.  If it wasn’t for mental mistakes we could have easily won, but it was a good lesson.  I told them that when you are playing good teams like that, you have to play clean baseball.  We will see how it works out here in the next few weeks.”

 

Published 4/26/22

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Tygers Get First Win

 

          Mansfield Senior earned its first win of the season Monday evening by edging cross town rival Mansfield Christian (9-8) in a non-conference game.

          Coach J.R. Davis says it was important to get that first win.  “The biggest thing is with how hard we work and the conference that we play in, just being able to get a win and some confidence in our guys.  The way they came back and just didn’t give up with any of the situations that happened (Monday) night.  Overall, just getting the win was the biggest factor,” he said.

          Monday night marked the first time the Tygers have scored a run this season.  Davis says they did a good job of putting the ball in play and forcing Mansfield Christian to make a play.  “The craziest thing is before this game we didn’t score at all.  We hadn’t scored a run all year and that is the toughest thing to try and get some confidence,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We ended up with 16 hits by just putting the ball in play.  That is one of the biggest issues I bring up everyday for us hitting wise.  I tell them just put the ball in play and make them make a play, especially in games like (Monday) night.”

          Tygers will play Ohio Cardinal Conference leader Ashland on Tuesday in a conference game.

          Davis says he has emphasized to the kids the importance of plate discipline and not striking out.  “I was lucky enough to play legion baseball for Ray Peterson growing up.  Ray was a big proponent of mentioning that if you put the ball in play the defense has to do three things.  They have to field the ball, throw the ball and catch the ball.  That is one of the biggest things that he brought up and I have always kept that with me,” said Davis.

 

Published 4/26/22

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Shelby Beats Highland in Nine Innings

 

          Luke Shepherd singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning and Shelby beat Highland (7-6) in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference action on Thursday evening in Shelby.

          Highland drops back into a share of first place in the “MOAC” with Clear Fork and Ontario, who also have two league losses.  Shelby, Pleasant and Marion Harding are all one back.

          After losing (6-0) to Highland (7-4,4-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, on Wednesday, Shelby coach Jon Amicone says they knew it was a must win.  “Our players knew that going into the game.  Our leaders, Blaine Bowman and Marshall Shepherd, they wore it.  They told the guys this is a must win game and they put that pressure on themselves.  That is what big time players do, they understand circumstance.  We made our bed as far as the league goes, so we knew it was a must win.  I really apricate them understanding the situation and playing hard for us,” he said.

          Amicone says Luke Shepherd delivered a big hit for them in a clutch situation.  “With two outs and a runner on third Luke Shepherd did a great job for us.  He got a lot of big hits for us (Thursday) night.  It was the ninth inning and both of us were running low on pitching and we needed that hit.  It was a great baseball game.  It was one of the best I have ever been part of,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We were fortunate to get that win against a first class team like Highland.  It was just huge for our program.  I can’t say enough good things about the Highland program.  I am just extremely impressed with how they good about their business.  Getting Highland in the “MOAC” is a huge win for the league as a whole.”

          Highland coach Donnie Kline says it was a tough loss, but they still control their own destiny.  “What a fun game to be involved with.  We are obviously disappointed to lose, but Shelby had a really good ball team.  They are disciplined and well coached.  They made a few more plays and that is why they won.  We told the boys they needed to keep their heads up, they played well.  Going nine innings with a team like Shelby is going to make us better in the long run.  From a league standpoint, we still control our own destiny.  From a season standpoint, these types of games make a team stronger and we hope that is where it will help us in the long run,” said Kline.

          Shelby threw their ace Marshall Shepherd on Wednesday, but Amicone says they had some other kids step up big.  “Landon Kennard, who has kind of stepped up to be our two, did a really nice job for us.  He got us through six innings and Jeremy Holloway and Alex Bruskotter went the final three.  All of our pitchers did a really good job.  It seemed like Highland had a lot of traffic on the bases throughout the game and our guys were able to get the big out when we needed it,” he said.

          Shelby (7-3,4-3), #5 in our poll, is scheduled to play host to Lexington on Friday and travel to Edison, the “SBC” Bay leader, on Saturday in non-conference games and Amicone says they just want to get on the field.  “Everybody wants to play and all of the coaches I talk to say the same thing.  Let’s just get out on the field and play the game.  We were very fortunate to be able to pick up a game on Saturday.  It is nice to be able to play (Friday) and Saturday.  We just want our kids to play.  Enough with the practice and hitting the ball inside.  These kids have really worked hard, as have all the kids in North Central Ohio, and they deserve to play, so hopefully we will get the weather to do that,” said Amicone.

 

Published 4/22/22

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Crestview Moves into First Place

 

          Crestview edged Monroeville (4-2) on the road Thursday evening and they moved into a share of first place in the Firelands Conference with South Central and Plymouth.

          Monroeville is now a game back.  Plymouth beat New London (9-4) on Thursday.  South Central’s game with Western Reserve was cancelled due to wet field conditions.

          First year coach Scott Durbin says it was a huge win for his team at Monroeville.  “When you go up to play Monroeville at their place.  They have a strong softball tradition and to go up there and get a (4-2) hard fought win it was huge for our young team,” said Durbin.

          It was likely the Lady Cougars (7-4,4-1) biggest win of the year.  Durbin believes that is going to boost their confidence.  “There were a lot of smiles after that game and something like this, a quality win against a quality team there is no doubt the girls start buying in and believing a little bit more,” he said.

          This year, Crestview has a pretty young team and Durbin says key wins like Thursday night are going to make especially those kids believers.  “We threw Kalee Hamman (Thursday) night, a freshman.  She goes out and throws a complete game against a tremendous lineup and only gives up two runs.  Sophie Durbin is a sophomore goes four for four and leads off the game with a home run.  P.J. Endicot goes four for four, another freshman,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “It is a big deal for these young kids to have that success in what is still early in the season.  It is going to make them better every night they go out.”

 

Published 4/22/22

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Bellevue Blanks Perkins

 

          Bellevue picked up a big win in play in the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division on Thursday evening by shutting out Sandusky Perkins (9-0) in a division game.

          They remain a game back in the division standings.

          Coach Andy Dennings says they got an outstanding effort on the mound from Ethan Moore.  “Perkins had been playing extremely well.  We knew they had a lot of arms and they had scored a lot of runs.  We were going to have to play a good ballgame.  We ran a kid out there (Thursday) in Ethan Moore that threw the heck out of the ball.  He had 13 strikeouts and really commanded pitches in all situations in all at bats.  Threw any pitch at any time and all three we were working.  He did a great job, so it was really a nice win,” said Dennings.

          Dennings says a guy that can throw three pitches for strikes can be very hard to hit for a high school player.  “A lot of guys can throw two.  You can win with a guy who throws two, but if you have a guy throwing three pitches for strikes at any given time they are hard to handle.  You have to hit a mistake sometimes with guys like that,” he said.

          At the plate Thursday, Dennings says they were able to take advantage of some opportunities given to them by Perkins.  “They walked in two runs in early, so we were up 2-0 early and then we were able to manufacture a couple.  We had some better at bats as the game went.  We saw a righty and a lefty and they threw the ball well.  We have had good at bats all year.  We have swung the bat really well and it was nice to see us to put it together,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “I felt like we have let some games slip.  This was a game where we got it done on the mound, we played good defense and we were able to swing the bats enough, get a break here and there, and take advantage of some things and pull off a really good win.”

          Dennings says they didn’t swing at a lot of balls out of the zone.  “We ran some pitch counts up.  We didn’t chase a whole lot of balls out of the zone.  I am thinking one or two.  We did a nice job sitting off off speed here and there.  Really for us that was a big thing.  We hit pitches we wanted to hit for the most part.  It worked out in our favor,” he said.

 

Published 4/22/22

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St. Paul Hammers Mapleton; Keeps Share

 

          Norwalk St. Paul kept their share of the lead in the Firelands Conference with a (14-1) five inning destruction of Mapleton on Thursday evening.

          They share first with South Central.

          Coach Aaron Fries says they were really good in all aspects of the game.  “I would say it was our most complete game of the year.  We have been getting pretty good pitching all year, defense has been pretty steady, (Thursday) night we hit the ball pretty well.  We just had a lot of confidence in the box from the kids.  It looked like they were seeing it well as opposed to the other night we just didn’t seem to see the ball very well.  So, it was good to see our kids get back on it here hitting the ball,” said Fries.

          Fries hopes they can continue to hit the ball like they did on Thursday.  “In warmer weather the ball travels a little better.  It helps just getting some games back to back and not having big gaps in your schedule and consistently seeing live pitching.  I just think the more often they see it the more confidence they get and the more line drives we start seeing the more base hits we see.  So, those two factors are a big part of hitting and getting some consistency going,” he said.

          St. Paul (10-2,6-0) plays Mapleton again on Friday and Western Reserve, who they beat (4-2) on Wednesday, on Saturday and then they have South Central next week.

          Fries says first place is where they want to be, but they know they will have a challenge ahead.  “We are right where we want to be.  We have a tough stretch here.  We have four conference games in four days.  We have to go back to Mapleton (Friday) and probably see their best pitcher.  Western Reserve we have to see them again Saturday, we played them Wednesday.  We have stretch here that is going to test the depth in our pitching,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We feel pretty good about our pitching, but we are going to find our here these next couple of days and then into next week where we see South Central early in the week.  All big tests for us.  All things I think we are ready for.  We are excited, but it is certainly going to be a challenge in front of us.”

 

Published 4/22/22

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Hillsdale Blasts Chippewa

 

          Hillsdale remains in contention in the race in the Wayne County Athletic League after a (9-1) win over Chippewa in league play on Thursday evening.

          Nick Kandel, Max Vesper, Mark Able and Daniel Painter all had two hits for the Falcons.  Kandel had four RBI.

          They scored eight runs in the first three innings and coach Jason Snow says that allowed them to relax a little bit.  “We got four in the first with two outs.  You always like to get on top early and we got that little cushion.  We could relax a little bit.  They came back and got one, but we added one in the second.  We got some extra kids in to get them some swings.  Our pitchers threw strikes and we made plays,” he said.

          Caden Fickes went seven innings, allowing six hits and striking out 12.

          Snow says he settled down after kind a rough start against the Chips.  “He has pitched some big games for us.  He is more of an off speed pitcher.  He throws a lot of curve balls.  He has the one win against Norwayne where we gave them one of their league losses.  He shut them down and came out (Thursday) and had a little struggle in the first inning.  He had quite few guys on and gave ups some hits and then he settled down and got in the strike zone,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “He battled, he threw 100 pitches, which was a pretty good amount for him.  He threw a lot of strikes and struck out 12 guys and had a good night for us.”

          Hillsdale (9-3,5-3) plays Lucas in a non-league game on Friday.  Their league series next week is against Smithville.

          They trail Norwayne and Waynedale, who they have already played, by a game in the conference standings.

          Snow says all they can do is keep winning.  “We got to 1-3 early and we said let’s not focus on that.  All we can do is go out and win our games and we will see what happens.  (Wednesday) Northwestern upset Norwayne to give them their second league loss.  Waynedale has two losses and we have three.  Again, we just want to go out and win our games.  All we can do is try and get better.  We can’t control anything in front of us except winning our games and we will see what happens,” said Snow.

 

Published 4/22/22

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Highland Takes “MOAC” Lead

 

          Highland took sole possession of first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference after a (6-0) win over defending champion Shelby on Wednesday evening in Morrow County.

          Clear Fork fell a game back after a (7-3) loss to Marion Pleasant on Wednesday.  Shelby is now two back.

          Highland coach Donnie Kline says they got a strong effort on the mound from Blake Jodrey.  “The boys played really well.  Shelby is a very balanced and very compete team.  They are well coached and hove athletes everywhere.  It looked like it might be a game where we struggled early on,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Blake Jodrey, the senior, was on the mound.  He had the bases loaded in the first inning, worked out of it, and went the distance and only allowed two hits the entire game.  He pitched very well and the defense did well behind him.  Just found a way to score some runs.”

          Shelby coach Jon Amicone says they couldn’t get anything going against Jodrey.  “I thought Jodrey was sensational.  He had a good two pitch mix that kept us off balance the whole game.  He was in control from start to finish.  You have to tip your cap,” he said.

          It was the first loss of the season for Shelby starter Marshall Shepherd.

          Kline says they were able to get in some good counts.  “That kid is a stud.  The boys have a lot of respect for Marshall Shepherd.  He does a fantastic job.  They were really impressed with his pitches and how he threw them.  We just got some plus counts where we could get on base a little bit and we barreled some baseballs up.  Overall, Marshall Shepherd is the best pitcher we have seen all year and we have seen some good ones,” said Kline.

          If it doesn’t rain too much on Thursday, the two teams are supposed to play again this time in Shelby.

          Kline says you have to be ready every time you take the field in this league.  “This league is a lot of fun and anybody can beat anybody, which we have seen already.  After every game we have parents and players running to their cell phones to check out scores and see who is doing what.  It is a league where you can’t take a night off and if you do you will probably pay the price for it,” he said.

 

Published 4/21/22

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Columbian Beats Vermilion; Stays in First

 

          Bryce Roggow allowed only one unearned run on three hits in going all seven innings in leading Tiffin Columbian to a (6-1) victory over Vermilion in a Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division game played Wednesday evening at Sports Force Park in Sandusky.

          That keeps the Tornadoes in a share of first place in the Lake Division with Perkins, who beat Norwalk (6-0) on Wednesday.

          Coach Curt Mellott called it an important win for his team.  “It was important for us.  This was a red letter game for us in a couple of ways.  These guys all lost to Vermilion three times last year.  It has been a long wait to get them again.  We were proud of our efforts (Wednesday) night in some pretty tough conditions up on the bay at Sports Force Park, but in the end the bats came alive,” he said.

          The game was tied (1-1) after three, but the Tornadoes put singe runs on the board in the fourth and fifth and then hung up three in the seventh.

          Braden Roggow, Bryce’s twin brother, went three for four at the plate with a triple and three RBI.  David Auble added three hits for Tiffin.

          Mellott says it was a game where they had to show some patience.  “We talked to the kids after the game about how baseball came be one of the most humbling sports you can be a part of.  Even what you are doing everything right, it doesn’t look right in the box score and about the value of being persistent and believing in the process,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We had a hitter (Wednesday) night in David Auble, who has really done everything right all year and he goes three for four finally and the work starts to pay off.  It’s important for us to understand that the game is humbling, number one, it’s hard, number two, and sometimes we just have to go with what is given to us and just go with it.”

          Bryce had eight strikeouts on the evening.

          Mellott says he had all of his pitches working.  “Bryce Roggow had a phenomenal game (Wednesday) night.  The conditions to start with weren’t the best.  It started the hail in the second inning just a little bit and that cold breeze, but he threw multiple pitches for strikes.  He had his change up going and found his slider late, both his fastballs, the two and four seamer, were working pretty well.  He was pretty dominate for most of the game and just really proud of his efforts,” said Mellott.

 

Published 4/21/22

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Ashland Still in Front

 

          Ashland won its fifth Ohio Cardinal Conference game in as many tries as they blanked Madison (5-0) on Wednesday evening at Ram Field.

          They continue to lead Mt. Vernon and Wooster by a game in the conference standings.  The Jackets beat West Holmes (2-0) and Wooster drilled Mansfield Senior (18-0) in five innings on Wednesday.

          Coach Rick Gough says they must continue to maintain their focus.  “The league is very competitive.  We haven’t seen Wooster, we haven’t seen Mt. Vernon and they keep winning.  We have to try and keep pace.  5-0 is great, but we still have seven league games to play.  I like where we are sitting right now,” he said.

          Ashland (5-3,4-0) and Madison are supposed to play again Thursday, weather permitting.

          Gough says they got tremendous pitching on Wednesday and that was the difference.  “Luke Bryant did an outstanding job going six innings.  We had it as a no hitter (Wednesday) night.  Madison gave a hit to one of their kids, one hit, no hit, if was still an outstanding performance,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “Then Alex Grissinger came in and sealed the deal.  I think it was huge that we were able to put up and four spot in the top of the seventh to take some of the pressure off of our relief pitcher.”

          Madison coach Nick Melton says that seventh inning just killed them.  He says they are not doing to job consistently on defense and they must score more runs.  “Seth Ohl threw another great game or us (Wednesday) night and absolutely gave a chance to win.  There continues to be just one inning defensively where the train falls of track.  We need to do a better job providing run support for our pitchers and just continuing to improve our plate approach and consistency,” said Melton.

          Gough says Madison (1-6,1-5) has been a hard luck loser this year and they are not a bad team.  “We knew going in that Madison had lost a number of tough games, 4-1, 4-2, 4-3.  So, we knew it was going to be a battle.  Ohl pitched a good game, I just think he got a little tired in the seventh inning.  We found a way to get it done,” he said.

 

Published 4/21/22

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Wynford Keeps a Share of First Place

 

          Wynford scored nine times in the first three innings and went on to beat Mohawk (10-3) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game Wednesday evening and maintain a share of first place in the conference with Buckeye Central.

          The Bucks shutout Carey (6-0) on Wednesday.  Seneca East knocked Colonel Crawford out of a share by beat edging the Eagles (1-0).  Upper Sandusky destroyed Bucyrus (30-0) in their game.  Seneca East, Colonel Crawford and Upper all trail by a game.

          Wynford coach Tom Smith says it is going to be a tough league to win.  “I think Colonel Crawford came back to the pack this year and it’s anybody’s league to win right now,” he said.
          The Royals (7-2,4-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll has been pretty consistent this year.  “We have experience this year.  Last year we were really young, so the key so far this year is we are experienced.  The boys keep after it every game, every inning.  We haven’t played a perfect game yet, but we are getting better,” said Smith.

          Wynford had a lot of traffic on the bases Wednesday and Smith says they are starting to score more runs.  “They aided us with some walks.  I think we walked six times (Wednesday) night, but we outhit the 8-4.  We are scoring runs now, starting the get there, and so far, and I think we ware only giving up four runs a game too, so not too bad,” he said.

          Mohawk coach Eric Hoover says they were their only worse enemy in this one.  “We continue to shoot ourselves in the foot with walks and errors,” he said.

          The Warriors issued six walks and had five errors.

          Kaiden Blair and Same Collene for Wynford both had wo RBI, so Smith says they were able to come up with some big hits too.  “That is one thing that we have struggled a little bit with early in the year is pushing runs across, we have been stranding a lot of guys, but (Wednesday) we were able to push nine runs across the first three innings,” he told Swanknsports.com after the win on Wednesday, “We kind let off the gas after that.  We had a great start the game and drive those runs in.”

 

Published 4/21/22

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Seneca East Edges Colonel Crawford

 

          Aiden Hines outdueled Brennan Hamilton and Seneca East got past Colonel Crawford (1-0) in Northern 10 Athletic Conference action on Wednesday evening in North Robinson.

          They both now trail Wynford and Buckeye Central by a game in the conference standings.

          Coach Rick Bowerman says they did what they had to do to win.  “It was a fun game.  As a baseball guy those are always fun to watch and be a part of.  We did what we needed to do to win,” he said.

          Hines and Hamilton both went the distance for their teams.

          Bowerman says it was a close play at the plate that made the difference in the game.  “Both teams had great pitching.  Each of us only had three hits.  We were able to scratch out a run there in the third with a base hit and a stolen base.  We had a guy on first and they tried to turn two and the foot was a little bit off the bag,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We were aggressive trying to score from second as they were trying to turn two and a bang, bang play at the plate and we are safe and that was all of the scoring.”

          It was Tigers catcher Jake Bowerman that scored the deciding run.

          Crawford coach Dan Gorbett says it was really a tremendous game.  “Both pitchers were outstanding (Wednesday) night.  Hines pitched out of some jams.  We had some chances, but fell short.  We will come back (Thursday) a better team,” said Gorbett.

          Crawford is supposed to play at Bucyrus on Thursday.  Then Crawford and Seneca East are scheduled to meet again Friday outside of Attica.  Well, that is if Mother Nature allows.

          Seneca East did make three errors, but Bowerman says their infield of Caden Fritz, Cooper Skeel and Keegan Shoup were up to the challenge more times than not on Wednesday.  “Our defense came through.  I looked through our book and we had 13 assists by our infielders, so there were a lot of ground balls and we made the plays we needed to make,” said Bowerman.

          Bowerman says the league is going to be a meatgrinder.  “We talked in the preseason as coaches the league winner could have three or four losses and it is starting play our just like that,” he said.

 

Published 4/21/22

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Northmor Downs East Knox

 

          Northmor moved into a share of second place in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference with East Knox by beating the Bulldogs (10-5) on Wednesday evening in Howard.

          Both teams trail Fredericktown by two games.

          Coach Buck Workman says it was a solid win for the Golden Knights.  “It was definitely a quality win considering we were facing their number one.  We have been bit by the injury bug, so we are kind of short handed.  Everybody stepped up (Wednesday) night,” Workman.

          They played without senior Max Lower on Wednesday.

          Catcher Gavin Whited and shortstop Grant Bentley both had three hits for the Golden Knights, Bentley had three RBI.

          Workman says they had a good approach at the plate.  “We were just talking about that as a staff.  Several balls we hit straight up the middle.  We had a nice approach, we didn’t try to do too much.  Just getting bunts down.  Everybody contributed is some way shape or form.  It was just a nice team win,” said Workman.

          Nine different guys had hits in Northmor’s 15 hit attack.

          Workman says they had a lot of guys do good things.  “Even is a guy that didn’t get a hit, they got a walk, the pitch ran, or pitch hit, we just had guys doing things.  We run 14, 15 guys out there on different nights in different roles.  That is kind of the make up of our team and (Wednesday) night everything worked out for us,” he said.

          Drew Hammond went all seven innings for Northmor, giving up six hits and striking out six to get the win.

          Northmor (6-2,4-2) plays host to East Knox (6-2,5-2) on Thursday, barring more rain, which is in the forecast.

          Workman says one of the keys to their success this year has been the depth they have and what their bench can do.  “We kind of mix and match.  We have some guys that play some pretty good defense, but we have some guys that can hit it a little bit too and maybe they don’t have a full time position, but we use those guys in a pinch hitter role,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We have a couple of guys that can run pretty good and we use them.  It is nice to have a deep bench that helps us out when they can.”

 

Published 4/21/22

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Jackets Keep Pace

 

          Mt. Vernon went on the road and drilled West Holmes (10-3) on Tuesday evening in a game in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          They remain a game behind Ashland and tied with Wooster in the “OCC” standings.

          Coach Nate Hunt says they want to be tough and play whenever possible during what has been a horrible spring weather wise.  “At this point you can’t look ahead, you can’t look at the weather.  You just have to go day by day.  We were fortune enough that West Holmes’ field was in really good shape.  I don’t know if many teams did play.  There were a few innings what we did get some snow.  Earlier in the year we played Newark Catholic on a Friday and it was a snow game.  Unfortunately, the weather we are getting for this spring if you don’t adapt and go with the flow, you aren’t going to get any games in.  So, that was kind of our mindset, if they field is playable, the conditions during the game are just going to have to be it,” said Hunt.

          The Jackets scored six times in the first two innings.  Hunt says they got some good swings and the other aspects of the game were solid too.  “We were able to jump on them early.  We got two in the first and four in the second.  I tell our guys constantly that good thigs will happen what you swing the bats and I think they are starting to buy into that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “We say this week in and week out, if your staring pitcher is going to be around the zone and you are going to field it behind him and you swing the bats, good things will happen and you are going to be in it in the seventh.  At the end of the day in high school baseball, that is where you want to be and that’s where we were (Tuesday).”

          Mt. Vernon (8-1,4-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, plays West Holmes again on Wednesday.

          Hunt says they must concentrate on what the goal is that day.  “You can look down the road and see you is playing who, but at the end of the day you have to concentrate on what you can control.  That is not the weather, (Tuesday) its’ West Holmes, (Wednesday) it’s West Holmes, the weekend is our Central District team.  You can’t get ahead of yourself, you have to be where your feet are, that’s kind of our mindset right now.  It is a mindset the guys have bought into,” he said.

 

Published 4/20/22

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Area Athletes Excel in Mehocks

  

          The 89th running of the Mansfield Mehock Relays was more of a local showcase than it has been in many years with 19 area athletes or teams winning events, but still the team champion was from 300 miles away.

          East Kentwood High School in Kentwood, Michigan, won both the boys’ and girls’ team titles Saturday at Mehock Field at Malabar Intermediate School.  They won four relays, which is always the key.

          Crestview was a close second in the boys’ competition with Shelby third, Mansfield Senior fourth and Madison fifth.

          It was an outstanding individual performance for the Tygers Keontz Bradley, as he won the 100 meter dash (11.23), the 200 meters (22.44) and the 400 meters (51.92).

          He says the quarter mile is a difficult race, but he believes he has found some keys, “It is real tough.  Once you learn the ins and outs of the 400, you find you can go out of the blocks at about 80 percent, but once you get to the last 150 meters, you have to give everything that you have got in you,” said Bradley.

          Madison’s Isaac Brooks was the runner up in the 110 meter high hurdles, but he took the first place medal in the 300 hurdles (39.24).  “I think I am someone that just pushes the extra step.  I feel like if it is one on one coming into that last stretch I feel like I can speed it up,” said Brooks.

          It was also a double for Tommy O’Neil of Crestview in winning the 800 meters (2:04.45) and the 1600 meters, or metric mile, (4:33.11) on Saturday.

          O’Neil says he had a plan going into the 1600.  “I wanted to pace out a good race and everything.  I wanted to go in the 66, 67 range, just on that pace the entire time.  It came a little faster the first lap, but it really didn’t take too much out of me.  I kind of got caught behind it because I was fighting the wind the entire time.  Overall, I am pretty happy with it.  It is a good time right now,” said O’Neil.

          In the two mile, 3200 meters, Huck Finnegan of Shelby was the winner (9:54.75) in tough, very windy conditions.  “It was tough for me.  I had Mason (Hendrickson) with me for the first three laps, but I am glad I raced that kind of time in this weather,” he said.

          Shelby also won the two mile relay and Madison took the 4x100 meter relay.

          In field events, two Mansfield Senior athletes shared the high jump title, clearing 6’2”.  Amil Upchurch says that he and Maurice Ware really push each other in practice.  “Every day in practice we work with each other.  We look for our flaws and things we can get better at.  We just push each other every single day and that translates in the meets,” said Upchurch.

          Wade Bolin of Crestview won the discuss (165’10”), Jaylen Dorsey of Sandusky the long jump (20’11 ½”) and Zaidin Fry of Mohawk the pole vault (14’).

          In the girls’ events, Morgan Welch of Crestview doubled in the 800 meters (2:28.03) and the 1600 (5:29.11).  She says was pleased with her efforts.  “I am really happy with (Saturday).  I have been in, not a rut, but just a little bit challenging.  My times haven’t exactly been what I want them to be.  I felt like was getting back down there,” said Welch.

          Alexsia Davis of Madison took the 100 meter dash (12.77) and the 200 (26.62) on Saturday.

          Clear Fork’s Bekah Conrad was at the top of the podium in the discuss throw (122’10”) and she feels a meet like this is going to make her better.  “I love coming here because I get to go against more girls that are at a higher level than you would see at other meets around here,” said Conrad.  She also finished third in the shot put.  She is headed to the University of Dayton to compete at the division one level next year.

          Dana Frazier of Ashland won the pole vault (9’6”) and Myasia Matthews of Sandusky the 100 meter hurdles (16.30).

          Shelby was the runner-up in the girls’ team standings and Ashland was third.

 

Published 4/16/22

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Ashland Hammers West Holmes

 

          Ashland kept first place to itself Thursday as they beat up on West Holmes (12-3) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball game.

          The Arrows scored eight runs in the second inning and coach Rick Gough says they their offense was in high gear.  “Early in the year we had trouble hitting the ball, (Thursday) night we had seven or eight hits and we moved it pretty good,” he said.

          They finished the night with 11 hits.  Jon Metzger, Kamden Mowry, Parker Grissinger and Aidan Chandler all had two hits for the Arrows.  Chandler had a double and three RBI.

          Gough says this week they did a lot of good things with the bats.  “We had a two game series with West Holmes and we put 20 runs up on the board and you have to be pleased with that.  Early in the year we struggled to score runs, so our offense is rounding into form,” said Gough.

          Logan Fulk walked five guys in four innings, but he only gave up four hits and Gough says he battled.  “Our starter Logan Fulk didn’t have his best stuff, but he battled and kept us in the game for four innings and got a good win.  West Holmes isn’t a bad club.  I think there were 6-2 coming into the series.  I am very happy with the way we pitched,” he said.

          Ashland (4-3,4-0) leads Mt. Vernon and Wooster by a game in the “OCC” standings.

          They play Madison in their “OCC” series next week and Gough says there is a long way to go.  “I told the kids (Thursday) night we are 4-0 in the league, which is a good start, but don’t get too excited because I think it is going to take nine of 10 wins to get a share of the league,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “So, we are getting close to getting halfway there.  There is a long way to go and some good teams to face.”

 

Published 4/15/22

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Colonel Crawford Softball Wins Again

 

          Colonel Crawford remained unbeaten and in a share of first place in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference after a (7-0) win over Bucyrus on Thursday evening.

          They share first place with Mohawk and Carey.

          Coach Sarah Fraser says it has been the same formula.  “Defense did great (Thursday) night.  We got timely hits when we needed them.  Lauren Frietchen came out on her birthday and pitched us another shutout.  So, everything we could ask for,” said Fraser.

          Frietchen has been nearly untouchable this year.

          Fraser says her confidence is through the roof.  “She has been very, very consistent.  She is kind of a new girl this year.  She is digging in and she is going to work.  I think she really believes now that the defense has her back.  It’s a totally different team this year, which is great,” she said.

          Offensively, Fraser says sometimes it takes them a while to get the engine started, but once they do, they have been able to score some runs.  “It always takes us a couple of innings to get going.  We will get a run here and there.  Once we string those hits together and get it going, we are pretty good.  We are alright, so that is great,” she said.

          The Lady Eagles (8-0,3-0) play Ohio Cardinal Conference powerhouse Lexington on Saturday and have “N10” games with Carey, Seneca East, and Bucyrus next week.  Hopefully, they are able to play all of those.

          That has not been the case so far due to the weather, but Fraser says they have been focused.  “We had to cancel a game to get a league game in (Thursday).  We had to reschedule with Northmor in non-conference to get a game in this week.  Even (Wednesday) we didn’t cancel until right at 2:45 I think it was.  So, we had to really quicky revert to from game mentality to practice mentality,” she told Swankonsports.com after the win on Thursday, “In a perfect world they should be the same, but we all know how kids are and unfortunately it doesn’t translate all of the time.  We have been going on the fly and they have been pretty good at adapting so far.”

 

Published 4/15/22

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Mt. Vernon Hits Four Homers; Beats Madison

 

          Mt. Vernon went deep four times at Ram Field and they smoked Madison (12-2) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball game on Thursday evening.

          They remain a game behind Ashland in the conference race.

          Coach Nate Hunt says they weren’t sure they were going to be able to play, but when they got the green light, they were ready.  “We did a nice job (Thursday) with the conditions.  With the rain we didn’t know when we were going to get it in.  We got lucky and got some good weather,” he said.

          Mt. Vernon beat Madison (4-3) on Tuesday in “OCC” play.

          Hunt says they made better swings on Thursday.  “We showed up (Thursday) at Madison.  We had four home runs.  Konner Daughriety had two in one inning.  Then we had some guys I think might have gotten their first high school home run of their career in Owynn Gleason and Cash Finnell.  We did a nice job swinging it.  The first game with Madison, we didn’t swing it as well as I would like.  We only had one hit in four innings.  Again, luckily just like the Wooster week, we had that Wednesday to get into the cages and fix some things.  It definitely benefited us on Thursday,” said Hunt.

          Caden Rowland got his 12th straight varsity win for the Jackets.

          Mt. Vernon plays West Holmes in their “OCC” series next week.

          Hunt says this is not a team that is going to live on the home run.  He says their goal to make a good swing and make solid contact.  “I was talking to the coaches before the season.  This is my fourth year and I think we have had two in my four years and now we are kind of piecing it together.  Obviously, our guys are not home run hitters.  We tell them we are just trying to get good swings on it and hopefully good things will happen,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win Thursday, “I am not going to take anything way from the home runs, but the wind was helping them a little bit, which is an element part of baseball.  The kids did a good job of two strike hitting.  There is a lot of good things offensively that we saw (Thursday).”

 

Published 4/15/22

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Crawford Outscores Bucyrus

 

          Colonel Crawford is in a tie for the lead in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference after beating Bucyrus (14-8) on Thursday night in North Robinson.

          The Eagles, Wynford and Buckeye Central all have one loss in league play so far.

          Coach Dan Gorbett says they got some key hits from the bottom part of their lineup against the Redmen.  “We had some guys in the bottom of the order really come through with outstanding games.  It was Caleb Christman’s first start and he went two for three and had four RBI at the bottom of the order and that was huge.  Anthony Hill is hitting over .400 now and he has really been a pleasant surprise for us,” said Gorbett.

          Crawford (4-3,2-1) has won four its last five games and Gorbett says they are starting to find their footing a little bit.  “We had a big win against Mt. Gilead on Tuesday, beat them 6-0.  We were really good in that game against a quality opponent.  (Thursday) night our pitching was not as sharp as they have been in other games, but they got out of some jams.  They left the bases loaded and we were able to get 14 runs and pull the game out,” said Gorbett.

          They are supposed to play Carey and Seneca East twice in conference games next week.

          They have already had five games cancelled this year and Gorbett says you have to maintain your mental focus if you are going to be successful.  “We talked about that when the forecast was bad because I have had teams that have come out of that lull and just take off and play well and I have had teams where everything just goes south,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win Thursday, “It is all about mental toughness and handling all of the stuff that happens.  You can’t let it bother you.  If the weather is good, you play and you have to be focused and be ready to get the job done.”

 

Published 4/15/22

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Edison Downs Oak Harbor

 

          Edison played its first Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division game of the season on Thursday and they won at Oak Harbor (5-2) over the Rockets.

          Lefty Thomas Simon went the first six, allowing no runs on four hits while striking out 11.

          Coach Sean Hoover says it was a solid win.  “We played a good game.  We got a good lead part way through the game.  Thomas (Simon) threw very well for us again.  We got a couple of insurance runs there in the fifth inning and were able to hold on,” he said.

          Edison (5-2,1-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, had nine hits on the day.

          The Chargers have played only three times in the last 10 days.

          Hoover says it has been a struggle, but the players have done a good job of counting to be ready to play.  “It has definitely been a struggle getting games in.  A couple of the nice days we didn’t have anything scheduled and couldn’t get anything picked up on those days.  You are used to it.  I think this has been worse than other years.  We had cancelled every other league game so far and rescheduled them for other times.  We went to Port Clinton (Wednesday) and came back without playing.  We are going to play them on Saturday.  It makes it tough.  Your are trying to find innings for your pitchers and get them in rhythm.  You want to get bats for your hitters and get them in a rhythm.  We only played twice last week and we had to play Saturday in the snow to get the second game in.  (Thursday) night was our first game this week,” said Hoover.

          Edison is scheduled to host Vermilion on Friday night in a cross over game in the “SBC.”

          Hoover says pushing games back to later in the season, obviously, has its drawbacks.  “You are saving your ones and twos for your league games, so you can win your league.  You are kind of pushing them back to make sure they can throw those league games.  When they get pushed back all of the sudden your better guys aren’t throwing as much as they normally would at this time of the year and then you are going to hit a logjam of five games in six days, which makes it tougher because your other pitchers don’t get a lot of work either because of the rain,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “It is a situation where you have to throw in the bullpen live and lucky we have our fieldhouse for that.  We try and do the best we can with those guys, so their arms are ready.  There is no substitute for game innings, but we try and make the most we can out of our situation.  Hopefully, when we are at that stretch when we are playing five or six games in seven or eight days we are ready to go.”

 

Published 4/15/22

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Mehock Relays on Saturday

 

          The 89th running of the Mansfield Mehock Relays returns to Malabar School in Mansfield on Saturday.

          The early season meet is loaded with tradition, including the participation of Jesse Owens back in the 1930’s and Ohio State and NFL great Ted Ginn, Jr. in 2003.  Former Buckeye defensive back the late Todd Bell still holds the record in the long jump dating back to the late 1970’s.

          Weather, including snow, has sometimes been a factor for the relays, but director Shannon Sprang, in her second year, says things look pretty good for Saturday.  “I don’t want to jinx myself, fingers crossed, it looks like we are going to be mid-50’s and some sunshine peeking through and honestly for track and field that is pretty much perfect weather,” she said.

          Again, there promises to be outstanding competition among some solid teams and Sprang very talented individuals too.  “We are probably looking at about the same.  I have been checking our registration and entries fairly closely and have been in contact with coaches throughout the last six months,” she told Swankonsports.com, “As far as full teams, the difficult part for the Mehocks is people come for the competition, so as far as everybody bringing a full slate, a full roster of teams will still have around 22, 23, but I have been contacted by individual coaches who are bringing, for example two young men in the pole vault, one was the division III state champion from last year and the other was an All-Ohioan in division II.  So, they are coming exclusively from their teams because they want to compete, they want the best competition.”

          There will be teams from out of state again.  Sprang says there will be teams from Michigan.  “We have a lot of teams that I’m not aware of that have entered online recently and they are bringing some athletes.  We are going to have a very large smattering of competition.  I am excited to says we have some of our Michigan teams back with East Kentwood, South Lyons East and potentially Detroit Public Academy.  We are hoping to start drawing some of those back,” said Sprang.

          Sprang says it is difficult to field a team that can be competitive for the team titles, especially locally, just due to numbers.  “The thing that is hard to realize about track is you have 17 events for both men and women.  You figure most schools in our area probably carry only 30 kids on their roster and that is asking kids to do a lot of different events.  You get a couple of injuries in there.  Anymore you try to put your athletes where they are going to preform best, get you the best results and get themselves their best performances rather that filling every slot,” said Sprang.

          Sprang reiterates something this reporter has said for many years, the Mehock Relays are excellent spot for high school fans to just witness pure athleticism.  “That is kind of the fun part of being the meet director is I get a sneak peak at all of the entries prior to the spectators.  Like I said, we are going to have some good pole vaulters there, some good throwers, of course, we have some of the Columbus and Cleveland area schools that are always strong in the sprinting events.  So, it is going to be a good test of athleticism and competition this year,” she said.

 

Published 4/14/22

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St. Paul Blasts New London

 

          Norwalk St. maintained a share of first place in the Firelands Conference as they outscored New London (18-8) on Wednesday evening.

          It was not an easy day to play with rain during the game and wet field conditions at New London, but coach Aaron Fries says they did a fantastic job of focusing on the task at hand.  “I told the kids after (Wednesday) night’s game, we have nine games in and there aren’t too many people to this point that have gotten nine games in.  We have played in a lot of different conditions.  We are just trying to get them in.  If there is any possibility for us to get a game in, we are going to get it in.  (Wednesday) night were definitely some tough field conditions.  It was raining quite a bit for a good portion of our game, but the kids did a great job of just staying focused on the task at hand.  We were able to get the game in and get a win,” said Fries.

          The Flyers (7-2,4-0) had a lot of guys on base with hits and walks and Fries says eventually they were able to take advantage of their chances to score.  “Obviously, there were stretches when it was really tough on the pitchers.  There were a lot of walks in the game.  We were able to take advantage of that with some pretty good hitting.  We were struggling a little bit early.  We had some opportunities, but later in the game were really able to take advantage when we had guys in scoring position and extend our lead, then kind of gave it back a little bit, and then were able to extend there the last two, three innings of the game,” he said.

          St. Paul has a doubleheader with Fremont St. Joe on Saturday and then plays Western Reserve and Mapleton in back to back conference series next week.

          They are the defending conference champions and share first place in the conference with South Central.

          They lost their top two pitchers from last year and Fries says so far they have been able to fill those shoes.  “I think it has been a pleasant surprise.  I don’t want to say it is a surprise, I had confidence in the kids coming into the season as far as our pitching goes based on the work they had put in in the off season.  We are actually ahead of our pace from last year at this time as far as pitching goes, which is kind of hard to believe, but it’s true with a lot of good quality starts,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “So, we feel really good about that part of our game.  Obviously, there were some question marks coming into this year, not because of a lack of talent, but a lack of experience because the kids that didn’t come back for us pitched a ton of innings last year.”

 

Published 4/14/22

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South Central Out Duels Plymouth

 

          South Central outscored Plymouth (6-0) over the last three innings and rallied to beat the Big Red (8-5) Tuesday evening in a Firelands Conference game played in Plymouth.

          The win keeps the Trojans (5-0,2-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, in share of first place with defending champion Norwalk St. Paul, an (8-2) winner over New London on Tuesday, in the conference standings.

          South Central scored twice in the top of the first inning when Karl Ferber and Eric Sanders scored when Kayden Hauler reached on an error.

          That remained the score until the bottom of the fourth when Plymouth erupted for five runs.  A double by Cole Wentz, a single by Shae Sparks and a walk to Carson Tucker loaded the bases.  All three scored when an infield grounder by Clayton Miller resulted in two errors.  Two more crossed on an RBI double by Zeth Goth.

          However, South Central battled back to score four times in the top of the fifth.  Ferber singled and with one out Cole Wuifrum walked.  Kayden Hauler delivered an RBI and single Brandon Mitchell tied the game on a two run single.  A fourth run would score on a wild pitch to give the Trojans a (6-5) lead.

          They added a run in the sixth on a Plymouth error and another in the top of the seventh on wild pitch.

          South Central coach Mike Perry says he believed his kids would rally when they were down.  “When we met in the huddle after that inning.  I told them to listen, they are being loud and excited and we are being quiet and we have our heads down.  We are a team, and I have always preached this from day one here, and other places I have coached, you make a mistake, you leave it behind you, next pitch, next play, and they a battled, I can’t say how proud I am of this group,” said Perry.

          Mitchell was a star and both the Trojan football and basketball teams, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to play baseball.  Perry is glad he did.  “It’s pretty funny a kid that didn’t know if he was going to play baseball this year has had big hit after big hit because he is smart.  He goes out there and he doesn’t try and work anything.  He will look for a pitch and if he gets it, he bangs it,” he said.

          Plymouth gave the ball to three pitchers in Wentz, who started the game and went the first four and third.  He was followed by Goth and Miller.  They walked a total of nine Trojans.

          Plymouth made two errors and coach Jake Strayer says they made a lot of mental mistakes and that cost them the game.  “We didn’t play very well defensively.  There were a lot of routine plays.  We were down mentally (Tuesday) night.  The guys on the bump battled and battled and battled and we didn’t necessarily play the best defense behind them,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “They should have scored two or three runs and we gave them the other five or six.  That is a good team and they are going to make you make plays.  That’s what they did and we unfortunately didn’t make those plays.”

          Ferber went distance for South Central.  He allowed seven hits, walked two and fanned five.  He retried the last eight Plymouth batters he faced.  Bowling Green recruit senior shortstop Sam Seidel made a fabulous diving play in the hole with a runner on in the sixth.

          Perry says it was a gutsy performance by Ferber.  “That kid is a warrior.  There is no off switch for him.  He is always in attack mode.  He is always going to go after someone.  He was getting some pitches up.  He was hanging some curveballs, so we talked about it and he reset and went back out there and did the job.  The four pitch inning in the sixth really, really helped us. Sam Seidel making a fantastic play.  All of the adjectives in the world can’t describe how great that kid is,” said Perry.

          South Central hosts Plymouth (4-2,1-1) on Wednesday if it doesn’t rain too much and Strayer says that is a game they must win.  “It’s a big one in the league (Wednesday).  We have to essentially get that one.  We don’t want to get down wo in the league race against a team that is that good.  It is a big one and we really have to try and get that one,” he said.

 

Published 4/13/22

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Tiffin Moves into First

 

          Tiffin Columbian moved into a share of first place with Sandusky Perkins in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference by shutting out the Pirates (3-0) Tuesday night behind senior Carson Mellott.

          After a (5-3) loss to Clyde on Friday, the Tornadoes (6-1,2-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, handed Perkins (6-1,3-1), #1 in our poll, their first loss of the season.

          Coach Curt Mellott they were solid in all aspects of the game.  “It was a huge win for us.  We played very well top to bottom.  We pitched it very well.  We were clean on defense, had no errors, and had timely hitting for maybe the first time all year.  It was really good for us to get this one at home,” he said.

          Carson Mellott is now (3-0, 1.47 ERA) on the year.

          Coach Mellott says he was on point and they played some outstanding defense behind him.  “Carson went seven strong and only gave up four hits, and of those hits, only one left the infield, the others were just some bleeders here and there, no walks.  Defensively, we were clean (Tuesday) night and played exceptionally well.  We turned a double play on Luke Walton, which I didn’t know was humanly possible.  That was really good on our part.  Just really proud of our kids effort, just how they dug in and found a way,” said Mellott.

          Columbian also got some things going on offense.  Mellott says they made some adjustments to their lineup and that seemed to work.  “We shook the lineup up a little bit.  We have kind of been going with a pretty stagnant lineup, even going back to what they did last year.  We moved some guys around a little bit and that kind of brought some life to the lineup and it just really showed through,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Brayden Tucker has a big night.  He had a couple of hits.  He was in the two hole and we moved him down to the six hole.  He looked really good.  Taleb Al-Zakwani has kind of been all over the place for us as a sophomore.  He hit out of the eight hole and helped us score our first run on an error, but hit the ball hard and then got a big hit latter.  All in all, our kids did a really nice job at the plate and made some adjustments.  I think we are really close offensively.”

 

Published 4/13/22

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Ontario Hammers Clear Fork

 

          Ontario belted Clear Fork (13-1) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game played Tuesday evening at Legion Park in Bellville.

          It marked Ontario’s second straight conference win and coach Mike Ellis says a lot of things went their way.  “(Clear Fork is) a very good team.  You can’t take anything away from them and what Joe (Staab) has done with them at Clear Fork.  (Tuesday) night was our night.  Now, we move on to the next night,” he said.

          Clear Fork (5-1,4-1), #2 in the first Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, suffered its first loss of the season and fell into a share of the “MOAC” lead with Highland, who also lost Tuesday, (4-0) to Marion Harding, and Shelby, who beat Galion (2-0) in their game.

          Coach Joe Staab says they definitely didn’t have their “A” game.  “(Tuesday) night we didn’t play our best or play to win.  Too many mistakes that led to runs.  We hopefully will bounce back and learn from it,” he said.

          If Mother Nature permits, the schools are to play again Wednesday at Ontario in the rematch.  There is rain in the forecast.

          Ellis, the Ontario pitching coach before taking the head coaching job when Jeff Fisher retired, says Ryan Chapman was outstanding against the Colts on Tuesday.  “Our senior Ryan Chapman was on the mound.  He threw 103 pitches.  He did an excellent job of keeping them off balance,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “There were a couple of times when he was in a tough spot, but he got out of it.  As a senior, he rose to the occasion and pitched really well.”

          Ellis says they forced Clear Fork to make some plays on Tuesday night and that’s what good high school teams do.  “We got guys on and got guys running.  When you can get the defense moving it is always a good thing.  Clear Fork had seven errors and I have been on that side, so I know what it is like in a ballgame like that.  So, like I said say (Tuesday) night was our night and we move on to the next,” said Ellis.

 

Published 4/13/22

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Pauley No Hits Tygers

 

          Cole Pauley threw a no hitter and struck out 18 and Lexington downed Mansfield Senior (10-0) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Tuesday evening.

          It was the first win this season for the Minutemen (1-5,1-4) and coach Kevin Morrow says it was a big boost for them.  “It was a huge win.  We just had to get in the win column to feel good about ourselves.  We just haven’t been able to practice outside hardly at all.  We have had some games so far that we did play that we kind of hung around with teams and faded away in the end.  We just need to feel good.  Cole threw really well (Tuesday) night.  A freshmen Chance Basolone, we let him start, we have been really high on him, and he had three hits,” said Morrow.

          It was (0-0) after four, but the Minutemen put up a five spot in the fifth.

          Mansfield Senior coach J.R. Davis says it was a big mistake they made that opened the flood gates.  “The score doesn’t show the great pitching battle we had between Pauley and “Q”.  If we catch a line drive, we are 0-0 going to the bottom of the fifth, instead it snowballs into a five run inning and the way Cole was pitching it was a hug hole to try and come out of,” he said.

          Ashland beat West Holmes (8-2) Tuesday to take sole possession of first place in the “OCC”.  They lead the Knights, Wooster, and Mt. Vernon, who beat Madison (4-3), by a game.

          Pauley, headed to Ohio State to play for the Buckeyes was overpowering.  Morrow says was more efficient that he was in his first couple of starts against Wooster and Ashland.  “We are really counting on him to kind of lead the team and be that guy that can win a game in the “OCC”.  He has had a couple of good outings where he has struck out quite a few, but he wasn’t as efficient as he needed to be and he knows that,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “(Tuesday) night he was really efficient.  We needed him because Mansfield’s number one (Quintin) Little was pretty good as well.  He was really carving us up there for a while.  Obviously, with 18 strikeouts and kind of leading the way for us and gave us that veteran leadership.”

          The Minutemen as are to host Mansfield Senior (0-6,0-4) on Wednesday, weather permitting.

          Morrow hopes they can get in a rhythm.  “Especially, the practice end of it, that is the biggest thing.  We just need to go out there and take legitimate fly balls, legitimate ground balls and throw it a full distance.  Problem is now that kind of stuff has to be done during a real game.  We are hoping the weather starts improving and we get a streak of days where we just get some consistency and momentum built where we are just playing baseball on a routine basis,” said Morrow.

 

Published 4/13/22

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Fredericktown Blanks Northmor

 

          Kaid Carpenter threw a three hit shutout as Fredericktown downed Northmor (2-0) in action Tuesday evening in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference.

          The Freddies share first in conference with East Knox, who beat Cardington (8-2) on Tuesday.

          Carpenter walked none and struck out 15 Golden Knights.

          Coach Ryan Hathaway says he was in command.  “He was on it (Tuesday) night and threw a lot of strikes and really kept is pitch count down throughout the game.  I thought he looked as sharp as he has all season.  He really is a great competitor,” said Carpenter.

          Northmor coach Buck Workman says Carpenter was tough and they really didn’t have many chances.  “We just tip our caps to Carpenter and the Freddies.  They are well coached and don’t make many mistakes.  Carpenter was dealing and the couple of chances we did have, we just couldn’t get that big hit,” he said.

          Fredericktown (4-0,3-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, got RBI from Trevor Jobes and Luke Bean to score runs single runs in the fifth and sixth innings.

          The Freddies got four hits and Northmor (3-2,1-2) walked six, so Fredericktown had some traffic on the bases.

          Hathaway says they need more clutch hits.  “There were a very solid team.  We got two across, which was great, but when we kind of regrouped after the game and looked at what we left on base, which was about 13.  We just have to do a better job of getting some more timely hits and not making it such a tight game when you are getting such a great pitching outing.  We found a way to get it done,” he said.

          Hathaway adds that Northmor pitchers Grant Bentley, Jack Sears and Drew Hammond did an outstanding job of changing speeds and they couldn’t barrel very many balls.  “I seemed like their guys did a good job keeping us off balance.  It wasn’t that we were having bad at bats it was just when we needed that one timely hit or needed somebody to put it in play.  We just couldn’t get a SAC fly when we needed it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “I think we had the bases loaded two or three times.  It’s just baseball and hopefully we get a chance to get out there (Wednesday) and our guys are getting put in these positions now.  Hopefully, down the road it is going to pay off.”

 

Published 4/13/22

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Kanney Ties Buckeye Central Record

 

          Buckeye Central starting pitcher Alex Kanney threw a two hit shutout, striking out a school record 16 batters, and Buckeye Central got past Mohawk (5-0) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game in New Washington on Tuesday evening.

          The win moved the Bucks (5-2,4-1) into a share of first place in the “N10” with Upper Sandusky and Wynford.  Upper beat Wynford (6-2) on Tuesday.

          Longtime Buckeye coach Chad Jensen says Kanney was just really terrific on Tuesday.  “He was pretty dominate.  He was really locked in.  Anytime he got in trouble, he would battle back.  We had to remind our defense to not get lost.  Make sure you are ready to field if needed,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “He tied a school record that was set by Sam Shafer in 2011, Sam did it twice.  I told my assistant Tyler Pope that has been with me all of this time, it was like watching Sam pitch.  It was great, he was dominate.  We got some runs early in the first and second inning and that was really all we needed.”

          Kanney only walked three batters.

          Mohawk coach Eric Hoover says they couldn’t touch him.  “Kanney was absolutely dominant.  There is not much else to say,” he said.

          Buckeye got some early offense off Mohawk starter Liam Shellhouse, scoring five times in the first two innings.

          Jensen says they needed to keep adding on, which they didn’t.  “Isaac Hiler had a huge two out single in the first for us to go ahead 2-0 and then we were able to tack on three in the second and go up 5-0.  There is one thing that I did talk to our kids about.  It was a great game, a positive, a league win, but as a negative we kind of didn’t have that drive.  We still had good at bats, but we didn’t really have that focus as much because Alex was so good.  We talked about we have to keep the pedal down as we get into more league games,” said Jensen.

          If the weather allows, which it may not with rain in the forecast beginning in the early afternoon, Buckeye Central is at Seneca East, a (9-3) winner over Carey on Tuesday, for a Wednesday afternoon contest.

          Jensen says they must be ready.  “The “N10” is tough as heck and we know that.  We played a really good game (Tuesday) night and we talked about every league win our league is a good win and our league is a meat grinder for years now.  Our kids took care of business.  To beat a quality team like Mohawk, we are happy, but (Wednesday) we have to go to Seneca East and that is never easy.  We have to do the best we can to continue on,” he said.

 

Published 4/13/22

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Clear Fork Downs Galion

 

          Clear Fork remains in a tie for first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference after beating Galion (6-4) at Legion Field in Bellville on Thursday evening.

          They share first with Highland, who beat Marion Pleasant (9-6) in a suspended game and (9-1) in a regularly scheduled game on Thursday.

          The Colts scored twice in the bottom of the first on a RBI double by Jared Scott and a sacrifice fly by Ty Sellers and never trailed in the game, but the Tigers (1-5,1-4) kept it close.

          Coach Joe Staab says they were resilient.  “Credit to Galion, the scrapped the whole game and they brought the game to us.  Luckily, we kept a couple insurance run lead.  They were scrapping away an playing with confidence and played really well (Thursday) night and it was a good test for us.  Luckily, our guys were resilient and got the job done,” he said.

          Kasey Swank drilled a two-run homer for the Colts in the fourth and Luke Schlosser smoked a solo homer in the fifth.  Schlosser also went an inning in two thirds of scoreless relief, striking out four, to earn a save.

          The Colts beat Galion (7-5) on Tuesday and Staab says both games were hotly contested.  “Their team plays with a lot of energy, our team plays with a lot of energy, so it was competitive baseball.  It felt like a tournament like atmosphere with both teams competing in the conference in a meaningful game.  They came to play both nights.  Our boys played well enough to win both games and keep the lead in the conference,” he said.

          Scott picked up his second win of the season going five and third innings allowing three earned runs on eight hits, striking out five.  He was not lights out like he was last week in shutting out River Valley, but was still pretty good.

          Staab feels confident in his pitching rotation.  “We like what Kaden Riddle brings on the mound and the defense that we are able to put being him.  We have confidence in our pitchers and we are going to rely on our defense this year, which in the past has been one of the most successful parts of our game.  So, we are going to rely on that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “Jared Scott can bring it in game two.  We like the pitching staff that we have.  We know what he brings to the table and how competitive he is for us.  It has worked out both times.”

 

Published 4/07/22

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Jackets Outlast Wooster

 

          Mt. Vernon got a huge win on Thursday evening as they got past Wooster (9-7) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball game.

          The Jackets (5-1,3-1) and the Generals (3-2,3-1) both trail “OCC” co-leaders Ashland and West Holmes by a game in the conference standings.

          Coach Nate Hunt says it was a battle, but they were able to get it done.  “Wooster is always a good baseball team, fundamentally sound.  They are always in the hunt for the “OCC”.  One through four can absolutely swing it for them.  They always seem to have not one or two, but three or four guys that could pitch for them.  It was a battle all of the way to the end.  I knew that being up 9-4 at one time we were still going to be in a dogfight.  We found a way to get it done,” he said.

          Konner Daughriety, Mt. Vernon’s super sophomore, got things started with tape measure home run in the bottom of the first.  Hunt says that gave them some momentum.  “High school sports, especially baseball, momentum is key.  To have a guy that is electric as Konner Daughriety is as a sophomore.  He has had some struggles because he is a good bat and we put him in the four hole.  We played Hilliard Darby and he got intentionally walked twice there, we went to Wooster and he got intentionally walked there and then he got intentionally walked (Thursday) night.  I knew I had to make some kind of change there, so I moved to the three spot and let him do what he does and he hit a shot for the guys,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “It was kind of the start that we needed, especially when we went to their place and didn’t get the start that we wanted.  We knew we were going to be in a dogfight and they guys just battled.  Konner Daughriety with his solo home run and just top to bottom the guys found a way to barrel the ball.  It was a lot of fun.”

          After losing (10-0) at Wooster on Tuesday, Hunt knew this was a big game for them and he says Caden Rowland gave them a bulldog like performance on the mound.  “That is kind of the fun part about this conference.  In order to compete, one you have to have a short term memory, you have to be able to bounce back.  We had an extra day to get some more swings in.  Going back to game one, I can’t take anything away from the Bowen kid.  He absolutely dealt and I told him that (Thursday) being a freshmen and coming in and absolutely dealing.  For our guys to come back and swing it the way we did.  To top in all off Caden Rowland as a sophomore last year he finished the season 9-0.  We know we are going to have a chance is the seventh with Caden because he is always around the zone.  To be able to throw as many pitches as he did.  There were many times I wanted to him out, but as a junior who was 10-0 lifetime coming in, but he said, coach I’m good, my arm feels good.  It’s hard to take a kid like that out.  For Caden to be 2-0 on the year, and 11-0 for his career, what a start for the year,” said Hunt.

 

Published 4/07/22

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Crestview Drills St. Paul

 

          Crestview completed a series sweep of Norwalk St. Paul as the Lady Cougars belted St. Paul (12-2) on Thursday evening.

          They had beaten (17-4) on Tuesday.

          Coach Scott Durbin says their goal is another Firelands Conference title.  “Obviously that has been a big focus for us.  We have won four league championships in a row and our goals are the same this year to go and take another league title and keep that streak going.  You have to get off on the right foot, so it was a big week for us,” said Durbin.

          Kalee Hamman struck of six Lady Flyers in route to a complete game victory on Thursday.

          Plus, Durbin says they got hits one through ten in the lineup.  “There is a big smile on my face.  The last two nights we have hit up and down the lineup top to bottom.  We have a freshman Chesnie Patton, who hits her first home run (Thursday) night and several girls up and down the order had multiple hits.  So, it’s a lot of fun when you can hit top to bottom,” he said.

          Sophie Durbin, Tary Eagle, Mary Leeper, Patton and Hamman all had multiple hits in the game.  Patton had her varsity home run for the Lady Cougars.

          Crestview as enjoyed enormous success in the conference in recent years, but Durbin says they have a number of freshmen, who are just learning about varsity softball.  “Right now, we have got nine freshmen in the program.  We have got four freshmen playing every day.  So, they hear a lot about it, they know the expectations, but now they are getting a taste of it,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Thursday, “When they go out there and they put the ball in play it builds on that confidence and the expectations.  So, they are settling in very nicely with our senior leadership from Mary Leeper and Holly Collett and Autumn Martin.  They are doing a nice job of working with those younger girls and kind of laying the expectations out with them.”

 

Published 4/08/22

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Shelby Earns Win Over Harding

 

          Shelby got an important win in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference play on Thursday evening when they downed Marion Harding (9-3) in a game that started on Tuesday.

          The Whippets lead (5-0) in fourth inning going to play on Thursday.

          They couldn’t finish the game Tuesday or play at all on Wednesday due to the weather.

          Coach Jon Amicone says you must have to be focused mentally.  “That is the battle you have with Ohio high school baseball.  It is what it is.  To get back and get a good league win after dropping the previous one was really key for us to get back on track,” he said.

          Mario Pleasant had beaten the defending “MOAC” co-champs (5-2) last Wednesday.

          Amicone says they had guys in the batter’s box doing what they were supposed to be doing.  “A lot of them did a really nice job of being productive.  Whether it is the top of the order getting the big hit or the bottom of the order moving runners.  We did a nice job bunting and moving runners and putting as much pressure on their defense as we could,” said Amicone.

          Starting pitcher Marshall Shepherd came back to finish what has started on Tuesday and gave up no eared runs.  However, Amicone says they must do a better job fielding the baseball.  “Marshall is our guy.  He is going to go the distance for us and finish what he started on Tuesday.  He gave up three runs and all of those runs were unearned,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “You can’t do that against teams and expect to be successful all year long.  So, we know we have to clean that up that defense for us to be successful over the long haul.”

 

Published 4/08/22

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Fredericktown Pounds Mt. Gilead

 

          Fredericktown overwhelmed Mt. Gilead (16-0) in a Knox Morrow Athletic Conference game on Thursday evening.

          They had not played since a (19-1) destruction of Danville on Saturday in Conference play.

          Coach Ryan Hathaway says first it was just good to get back out there.  “We are just excited to get back outside after being in the gym the last couple of nights.  When we finally got the opportunity, it seemed like the kids took advantage of it (Thursday) night and played hard.  Things went really well for us,” he said.

          Kaid Carpenter got the start Thursday for the Freddies and Hathaway says he was efficient and dominating.  “Kaid Carpenter, who has been our number one guy, I think he came out and threw 65 pitches in six innings and that is going to win you a lot of games when you have that sort of outing.  He just did a great job of throwing a lot of strikes.  It wasn’t a great night to be a hitter, but when you throw that many strikes and make them put it in play.  He kind of dominated the game,” said Hathaway.

          Fredericktown (3-0,2-0) plays Mt. Gilead (1-1,0-1) again on Friday, weather permitting.

          They have averaged more than 16 runs a game, one of the highest scoring teams in the area.

          Hathaway says their approach is to get the bat on the ball and put it in play.  “Our guys have done a good job so far of just putting it in play early on.  The pitching is always going to be better early on.  If you can just put it in play, I don’t think the defense is always caught up early in the season,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Just putting the pressure on the defense by trying in find a way on base with a walk or hit by pitch, whatever we can do just trying to keep as much pressure on the defense as we can.”

 

Published 4/08/22

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Madison Gets Past Mansfield Senior

 

          Madison won their first game of the season on Tuesday night as they downed arch rival Mansfield Senior (2-0) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game at Ram Field.

          Coach Nick Melton says they got outstanding pitching from Seth Ohl.  “It was a really nice job by Seth (Tuesday) night.  He was hitting his spots.  His off speed stuff was working pretty good.  I think 10 strikeouts is a career high for Seth.  So, he is throwing the ball really well for us right now,” he said.

          Madison (1-3,1-2) has had issues scoring runs this year, they lost to West Holmes (4-2) and (4-1) in “OCC” games last week, but Melton says they got just enough done on Tuesday.  “It wasn’t pretty, I’ll tell you that.  Zac Huff came up to me in the fourth inning, my assistant coach, and said, coach we just have to get one run, we only need one because Seth is going to nail it down for us, just get us one this inning.  It wasn’t pretty, but we scratched two across and sure enough that held up for us,” said Melton.

          Mansfield Senior (0-3,0-3) has not scored a run this season, but coach J.R. Davis says they are getting closer to their goal of winning an “OCC” game.  “We’re back to competing in conference games again.  Now, we just need to start hitting the ball and avoid the one bad inning that change the whole game for us.  All three games we have lost this season, we have been in close games and one inning ends up deciding the game,” said Davis.

          Defending “OCC” champ Wooster blasted Mt. Vernon (10-0) on Tuesday.  A game between Lexington and Ashland was suspended with the Minuteman holding a (2-0) lead in the fourth.

          Melton hopes the win can get the Rams headed in the right direction.  “I hope it takes the monkey off our back.  Getting that first one, your hear it a lot.  Other coaches say the first one is the hardest and now that we have that one out of the way it would be nice that we could get on a little roll,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Certainly, the schedule doesn’t lend us any favors, but that first one is there.  Hopefully, we can start realling some off and putting something together.”

          The Rams are scheduled to play at Arlin Field against the Tygers on Wednesday and Melton hopes Mother Nature allows.  “We looked at the weather this week and thought we may not get to play baseball again.  It hasn’t been great, but we have been fortunate, we have been able to get outside.  I really didn’t know what are chances were of playing (Tuesday), but our maintenance crew did a nice job and got our field ready to play.  It looked beautiful.  We just hope for the same luck (Wednesday) that the rain just misses us enough in order to play,” said Melton.

 

Published 4/06/22

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Columbian With Big Win at Norwalk

 

          Carson Mellott held Norwalk scoreless over the last six innings and Bryce Roggow had three RBI and Tiffin Columbian edged Norwalk (4-2) in a big early season matchup in the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division on Tuesday evening at Norwalk.

          Coach Curt Mellott says it was a quality win over a very good team for them.  “We had two highly talented, highly competitive teams out there (Tuesday) night.  Veteran teams that battled all of the way to the end.  Really happy to earn a victory over a great Norwalk team,” said Mellott.

          Carson Mellott gave up one earned run on five hits while striking out eight and walking nobody.  He is dad he got into a grove.  “We had really good pitching.  That really solidified the game for us.  We felt really good coming in.  We started the game with a couple of hiccups so to speak.  Once we locked in, we felt good where Carson (Mellott) was at and were he was going,” said Mellott.

          Coach Mellott says anytime they give the ball to Carson they feel they have a chance to win.  “It is something that we feel really good about.  We feel every time he has the ball, we have a great chance to do well.  He keeps showing it time and time again.  We are really proud of his efforts,” he said.

          Norwalk (2-1,0-1) got on the board twice in the first inning as Sam Battles go on base via an error, Eli Obringer singled him home and he scored on an RBI double by Ian Minor.  But, that was it for the Truckers.

          Coach Wes Douglas says they gave up too many free passes.  “I thought both teams competed hard.  After we scored two in the first Mellott settled in, got stronger and didn’t walk a batter.  We walked nine and I think it caught up with us,” he said.

          Columbian (4-0,1-0) scored two in fourth and added the deciding two runs in the sixth.

          Mellott says got some clutch hits.  “That’s our motto this year, just find a way.  We had some key at bats.  We had a lot of traffic early on.  Finally, Bryce Roggow got a big hit to bring in a couple of runs and an even bigger hit to break the tie at 3-2.  A key hit and run at the end that might have went 25 feet in a first an third situation gave us that fourth run,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Those little things and just finding ways to get a hit and get things done against a really good opponent makes us feel good, but we have to be ready for the next day now.”

 

Published 4/06/22

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Ontario Gets “MOAC” Win

 

          Ontario, the defending co-champion of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, won its first conference game Tuesday evening as they downed River Valley (3-1) at Ontario.

          Coach Mike Ellis says Ryan Chapman was masterful on the mound.  “Ryan Chapman went the distance.  He only threw 83 pitches.  He was in total control.  He only gave up two hits and two walks, so he was the dude for us,” said Ellis.

          Ellis says they got solid defensive play and that helped Chapman as well.  “It keeps the pitch count down.  Our defense played well.  We only had one error.  In our previous game we had six errors, so it makes a big difference, especially with the pitch count,” he said.

          Ontario (1-3,1-2) plays at River Valley (1-3,0-3) on Wednesday, weather permitting, in the second game of their “MOAC” series.

          Ellis says they didn’t hit the ball very well on Tuesday night, but he believes that will come.  “I was just telling the kids, I don’t care if we win by one, we just have to keep clawing and just keep working,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “The bats our going to wake up here sooner or later, but right now they are not, so we are just going to have to do whatever we can to manufacture runs and just get the “W”.

 

Published 4/06/22

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St. Paul Takes Down Crestview

 

          Norwalk St. Paul began defense of its Firelands Conference title with a (7-1) win over Crestview in the Maple City on Tuesday evening.

          Eli Fisher and Luke Bloom combined on a three hitter for the Flyers.

          St. Paul coach Aaron Fries says they challenged Crestview hitters and their defense was sound too.  “We started out with Eli Fisher and he has really started the season well.  In his two starts he has done exactly what we have asked him to do.  That is throw strikes and challenge hitters, mix his pitches a little bit and rely on his defense and he has done a very good job of that in his first couple of starts.  He was really efficient (Tuesday) night,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win,
“Then we had Luke Bloom, who is a hard thrower come in and shut the door for us.  So, it was a good combination, those two, again just challenging hitters.  Our defense was solid.  We continue to get better and better as kids kind of get used to their spots and rotations and that sort of thing.  We are happy with that side of the baseball for sure.”

          Crestview coach Don Keener says they hit some balls hard, but they couldn’t get any breaks.  “I thought we got a strong pitching effort from Jarek (Ringler), good enough for us to get the win.  Unfortunately, we struggled at times.  We only had three hits, but I thought we hit the ball really hard, it was just at someone and they made the plays,” he said.

          Seven runs was a good number for the Flyers, but Fries says they can be more productive.  “For us it has been a little bit of a slow start offensively.  With each passing game I have seen more confidence in the box.  We do have a lot of young players.  I think the confidence we there (Tuesday) night more than it was Saturday, so it led to a lot more line drives and I hope we can continue to see that as far as the confidence in the box one through nine.  Really, I think we need to do a bit better job.  We are leaving some guys on base, leaving some opportunities out there.  I think as the season progresses, we are going to get better at that,” said Fries.

          St. Paul (4-1,1-0) is at Crestview (2-4,0-1) on Wednesday, weather permitting in another Firelands Conference game.

          Fries hopes they can take some momentum into that one.  “Crestview is a good baseball team.  Their starter (Tuesday) night Ringler is a good pitcher, so we knew we were going to have our hands full and to win 7-1 I really liked the kids focus.  They were really focused the first inning and really did a nice job and staying focused.  So, I was really impressed by that.  These kids have goals and they know what it takes to reach those goals.  The main thing is to focus each and every game.  Hopefully, we can build upon this.  If we get the opportunity to play (Wednesday) we can take this momentum into this game,” said Fries.

 

Published 4/06/22

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South Central Blanks Mapleton

 

          South Central scored twice in the fifth and Karl Ferber shutout Mapleton as the Trojans beat the Mounties (2-0) Tuesday evening in a Firelands Conference game outside of Greenwich.

          They two teams are scheduled to play again at Mapleton on Wednesday if they can avoid the rain.

          South Central coach Mike Perry says Ferber was outstanding.  “That has been a theme with us, not getting many, but giving up even less.  Karl Ferber started (Tuesday) night and he was fantastic.  Mapleton’s kid the Benner kid was fantastic as well,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We pitched and we played defense and we got a couple of timely runs.  That is what we have been doing lately.”

          South Central (4-0,1-0) played well on defense against Mapleton and Perry says that was a big key for them.  “That’s what we do.  We don’t throw it around.  We make the easy plays and we make some of the tough plays.  Eric Sanders has been fantastic is centerfield.  He is a sophomore and he ran down two (Tuesday) night that were in the gap.  He makes those plays look really easy.  He catches everything that is routine,” said Perry.

          The Trojans didn’t get many hits, two in fact, but Perry says they got what they needed in the fifth.  “We had two hits.  We scored in the bottom of the fifth.  Sam Seidel had an RBI single and Karl Ferber had and RBI groundout and that’s all we needed,” he said.

 

Published 4/06/22

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Late Rally Gives Crawford Win Over Buckeye

 

          Colonel Crawford scored twice in the top of the seventh inning and they rallied to beat Buckeye Central (5-3) in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference opener for both schools on Monday evening in New Washington.

          The Eagles scored when Carson Feichtner doubled and Cyler Hoepf delivered an RBI single.  Another run scored when Brennan Hamilton crossed home on a force play.

          Colonel Crawford (2-2,1-0) tied at (3-3) in the fifth on RBI by Mason Studer and Feichtner.

          Coach Dan Gorbett says they got very good performances from a lot of guys.  “We were up and then we were down, we tied it and then we were able to score two runs in the top of the seventh and pulled it out.  We got great pitching from Parker Ketterman.  He went the distance on like 82 pitches.  He only struck out two, but he kept them off balance and got the job done,” said Gorbett.

          Ketterman gave up only five hits, walked three and struck out two to get the win.

          The Eagles made only one error and Gorbett says that was a big improvement from the opening week.  “We did a really good job defensively.  Much better than last week.  Hopefully, this is a game where we turned the corner and start playing better.  We have been a little sloppy at the beginning here.  We played really well (Monday),” he said.

          Buckeye (2-2,0-1) had built a (3-1) lead through four on RBI hits by Graham Geissman with two and Alex Kanney with another.

          The two teams are scheduled to play again on Wednesday, this time in North Robinson, in an “N10” rematch.

          Gorbett says they didn’t play well last week, but Monday night you could see a difference in their approach to the game.  “The confidence, you could just see it on their faces.  We were mentally ready (Monday),” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “You could just see a difference in their eyes, their whole attitude.  Really proud of how our leaders stepped up, we are better let’s get it done.”

 

Published 4/05/22

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Northmor Scores Late to Beat Cardington

 

          Northmor scored 12 runs in the last two innings to break it open and beat Cardington (14-7) in a Knox Morrow Athletic Conference game on Monday evening at Northmor.

          Coach Buck Workman says they got some clutch hits.  “In the sixth inning we scored seven and six of those seven were with two outs.  That was nice to see because we have been lacking that two out punch, getting that big, two out hit when we needed it.  A shout out this week to Brody Workman for a big hit with two outs that kind of ignited us and we kind of exploded from there with a bases clearing double,” said Workman.

Max Lower and Andrew Armrose both had three hits for the Golden Knights.  Armrose and Grant Bentley both had four 4 RBI in the win.

          Northmor got at least one hit from seven players and Workman says that has to keep happening if there are going to have a good year.  “That we key if we are going to be successful and put up some big numbers, we have to have one through nine helping out and (Monday) night we got that even if it was a couple of walks here, a hit by pitch, a couple of hits from guys at the bottom of the order.  We had some pinch hitters come in and give us some quality at bats.  We have to do that if we are going to be successful,” he said.

          Northmor (3-1,1-1) plays at Danville on Wednesday in a conference game.

          Workman says if they were going to stay in the race, they had to get the win on Monday.  “We couldn’t start out the league 0-2.  They are a solid ballclub, they are scrappy.  Their top five are pretty darn good.  The game Saturday, the ball just didn’t bounce our way.  We had a couple of close calls that didn’t go our way that could have changed the outcome.  We had a couple of errors that put us in a bind.  At the end of the day, it was our own undoing,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “It was nice to see our kids show a little resiliency.  We could have buried our heads in the sand when we were down 2-1, but in the fourth inning we tied it up.”

 

Published 4/05/22

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Mohawk Edges Bucyrus

 

          Mohawk pushed across a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to down Bucyrus (4-3) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game played on Monday evening.

          Kahne Hayman drew a one out walk in the seventh.  He stole second base and went to third on a single by Travis Geary.  After a strikeout, he scored the winning run on passed ball.

          The Warriors were down (3-1) going to be the bottom of the sixth, but coach Eric Hoover says they got two crucial runs in their half.  “They put two on the board in the sixth and took the lead (3-1).  We bounced back right away and got two and were able to tie it up going into the seventh.  It was good see us get some good at bats and find ways to get runners on and plate a couple to steal the momentum back,” he said.

          Hoover said they found a way in the seventh to get that winning run across the plate.  “We had a little base runner error that they took advantage of.  Our first guy got on and tried to get to second on an error, but got thrown out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “We drew a walk and got a steal to get to second and base hit to move him to third and were able to score on passed ball.  So, we were fortunate and did what we had to do.  It wasn’t pretty, but we were able to get it done in the end.”

          Mohawk (3-3,1-0) plays at Bucyrus (0-3,0-1) on Wednesday in the second game of the series.

          The Warriors had a chance to win due to the tremendous performance by pitcher Nathan Geary, who allowed only one hit and one earned run while striking out 13 in going the distance.

          Hoover says he had great command.  “Nathan threw a keck of a game.  He did a lot better job of staying around the zone.  He just a had a few walks, but even when he was missing, they were really close.  He had pretty good command (Monday) night.  He had 13 strikeouts and only gave up one hit.  We are going to need that from him to stay in games.  He had a great one (Monday) night,” said Hoover.

 

Published 4/05/22

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Crestview Rips Lucas

 

          After a frustrating loss on Wednesday night, the Crestview Lady Cougars smoked Lucas (14-1) in a non-conference game on Thursday evening.

          Coach Scott Durbin says it was a big win for them from a confidence standpoint.  “That was exactly what we wanted to see.  (Wednesday) night was obviously disappointing and to be able to get back on the field (Thursday) I was thrilled with the girls.  They looked intense and ready to go in warmups and they brought the fight.  They got back up and went to work and just played good softball,” said Durbin.

          The Lady Cougars lost (19-3) to Loudonville on Wednesday.

          Crestview is scheduled to play a doubleheader against Fredericktown on Saturday.  They begin defense of their Firelands Conference title next Monday and Tuesday against Norwalk St. Paul.

          Durbin says they got an outstanding effort in the circle from a young lady in her first year of varsity action on Thursday.  “We started a freshman in Kaylee Hamman and she comes away with her first win.  She was fantastic.  She had nine strikeouts and zero walks and only gave up two hits.  We made a lot of plays behind her.  She was in control and really hit spots and just got the job done and looked really good,” he said.

          It was a total team effort for Crestview as Durbin says they hit the ball well though the lineup against Lucas.  “Sophie Durbin came out and led us off with a home run and I think that just kind of started things,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We had multiple girls and that had multiple hits in Mary Leeper and Taryn Eagle and Chelsea Patton.  We just made good contact and got pitches we wanted and drove them into the outfield.  It was good to see after a disappointing night to watch the girls bounce back and compete.”

 

Published 4/01/22

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Bellevue Belts Madison

 

          Bellevue cruised to a (10-0) five inning win over Mansfield Madison on Thursday evening to pick up its first win of the season.

          They lost (7-2) to Wynford in a non-conference game on Tuesday.

          Coach Andy Dennings says they got a great pitching performance from Tyler Ray and just executed better against Madison (0-3) on Thursday.  “We beat a quality team (Thursday).  We rebounded after a disappointing opening day loss where we just didn’t play clean and we kind of wasted some good pitching performances.  (Thursday) Tyler Ray threw the ball extremely well in his first varsity outing.  He threw a one hitter,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We really had some pretty good at bats all year in our scrimmages and these first two games.  I thought we hit the ball extremely well (Thursday).  We didn’t chase a lot of pitches and we were pretty disciplined at the plate.  It was a really good game all around.”

          Dennings says as a hitter you have to be disciplined.  “If you know what balls you hit well and not expand the zone for pitchers and try and get in plus counts for yourself it really gives you the opportunity to control the at bat.  Sometimes you are going to get beat, but your have to be okay with that as long as you are not expanding the zone and hitting strikes and I thought we did a lot of that,” he said.

          Bellevue (1-1) is scheduled to host Fremont Ross in a non-conference game on Friday.  They open play in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference against Vermilion on Monday.

          It is April in Ohio, so you know the weather is going to be nasty and it was on Thursday.

          Dennings says he was pleased with how they handled it.  “You have to battle the elements.  Without question it is tough for pitchers to go out there and throw in these elements and that is not easy for them to do.  Honestly, we didn’t hit a lot of balls in the air.  We had a couple of balls we struck really well in the air and take the wind away they are probably down for doubles or triples.  We were able to square a lot of balls up and hit some hard ground balls and line drives.  We didn’t get overly affected.  Our pitcher threw outstanding in cold weather and the wind was whipping pretty good.  I was really pleased with how they played,” said Dennings.

 

Published 4/01/22

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Mohawk Downs McComb

 

          Mohawk scored three times in the first inning and went on the beat McComb (4-1) in a non-conference baseball game on Thursday evening.

          They added another run in the second and Nathan Geary and Jake Coldiron made it stand up allowing only six hits.  Geary went the first five, striking out seven to get the win.

          Coach Eric Hoover says that fast start offensively was key.  “It is early in the season and we have a lot of young guys.  I think it boosts our confidence to get an early lead.  We are still trying to peace things together and move some kids around and play different positions.  Any kind of lead you can get to build confidence at this point is a really good thing,” he said.

          Mohawk lost (10-4) to Cardington in their opener on Tuesday.

          Hoover says they learned from the loss and get better.  “We talked about some mistakes we made in the first game that we have to correct.  The general demeaner of the team is something that needs to be improved and it was much better (Thursday),” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We had a lot more focus on what was going on, more communication and getting the older guys to get the young guys comfortable and involved and feeling like they belong.  I think we did a great job of that.”

          Mohawk has six freshmen on its varsity roster this season and Hoover says that chemistry is going to be important.  “That is as important in baseball as it is in anything.  So much of what we do you need to be confident in what you are doing whether you are at the plate or making a play and helping each other along throughout that is very important.  I think the older guys did a much better job of that (Thursday) and the young guys are just ready to help and be there.  It worked in our favor,” said Hoover.

 

Published 4/01/22

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Colts Demolish River Valley

 

          Jared Scott allowed just one hit over six innings and struck out eight as Clear Fork beat River Valley (9-0) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Wednesday evening at American Legion Field in Bellville.

          The Colts (2-0,2-0) also beat the Vikings (9-2) on Tuesday.  They are the only “MOAC” team with two conference wins this year.  Highland (1-0,1-0) leads Ontario (13-5) in game that was suspended in the seventh inning due to darkness.

          Coach Joe Staab says Scott kept throwing strikes.  “We had really good pitching behind Jared Scott, who we have turned to be one of our conference guys, our best guy.  (Wednesday) night he had some of his best stuff.  He was lighting up the zone.  He only had two walks over six innings, so our defense was getting a lot of action.  He threw strikes and we played defense behind him and manufactured runs.  It was a good, clean game to watch,” said Staab.

          Clear Fork scored five times in the bottom of the first and put it away with a three spot in the fifth.  Braylon McCoy had 2 RBI for the Colts.  Clear fork also had three steals.

          Defense was a major issue for the Colts last spring, but they only had one error on Wednesday.  Staab says it is still a work in progress.  “As the schedule goes the competition of just going to get tougher and the pressure is going to be on, so we have to just keep getting better each day.  It is one game at a time.  There is no game that is more important than the one we are playing.  Whichever day we are playing, that is what we are trying to preach to the kids having a good focus when it is time to play.  If we do make a mistake, make the next play before making multiple errors and letting the wheels fall off,” said Staab.

          Clear Fork only had four hits on Wednesday, but they had a lot of baserunners.  They worked seven walks from Viking pitchers and River Valley also made seven errors.

          Staab says he doesn’t care how they get on base as long as they do.  “(Tuesday) we had 11 hits as team and (Wednesday) we only had four hits as a team, but we were on base drawing walks, getting hit by pitch and we were finding ways to get on base and put pressure on the other team.  So, anyway we are able to score a lot of runs, get on base, and keep the pressure on, we are trying to run as an offensive unit,” he said.

 

Published 3/31/22

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Hillsdale Rallies to Beat Norwayne

 

          Hillsdale scored three times in the top of the seventh to rally past Norwayne (4-2) in a Wayne County Athletic League game on Wednesday evening.

          Mike Steingass gave Norwayne a (2-1) lead in the bottom of the sixth with a two run homer, but Hillsdale centerfielder Nick Kandel ripped a three run double in the top of the seventh and that proved to be the difference.  Caden Fickes was tremendous on the hill for the Falcons going all seven, striking out eight and allowing only two hits.

          Coach Jason Snow says it was a huge win for them.  “It was a huge game for us in playing a league team like Norwayne and losing to them (Tuesday) night 6-3.  We took the lead in the sixth 1-0 and they hit a two out, two run homer in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead.  Our kids kept battling.  We had some kids have great at bats and worked a key walk and got our three hitter up to the plate in Nick Kandel and he cleared the bases with a double to give us three runs and put us up 4-2,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Caden Fickes, my god, pitched a complete game for us, probably one of the best games I have seen him pitch, he had them off balance all night.  He held them to two hits and two runs.  I couldn’t be more proud of my kids.”

          In terms of the league, Snow says Wednesday they needed to bounce back and they were able to do that.  “Norwayne has been a thorn in our side.  Last year, we had two 3-2 games and they beat us with walk offs in both of them.  So, it was kind of nice to get that off our back.  We didn’t want to go down 0-2 in league with Norwayne and having Waynedale coming up.  It was a great response by our kids.  Well played game by both sides, coach (Blake) Bellman does a heck of a job over there at Norwayne,” he said.

          It has been a baseball rivalry and Norwayne was had their number and Snow says it was very important for them to get a split in the first league series of the season.  “We haven’t been able to get out on our field, not a lot of swings outside.  Not a lot of opportunities on our new field with flyballs and see how the ball reacts.  I thought both teams handled it pretty well.  We are just more on the mental side of our game.  We had some poor communication at times (Tuesday).  We cleaned it up (Wednesday) the kids did a great job.  It is very important to come out strong with the great teams we are playing early in the year,” said Snow.

 

Published 3/31/22

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Madison Blanks West Holmes

 

          Madison got a three hit shutout from Bailey Lyons and beat West Holmes (4-0) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference softball game on Wednesday evening outside of Millersburg.

          After being rained out Monday and Tuesday, coach Tim Niswander says it was good to get out on the field and get a win.  “We have been rained out a couple of days, so it was nice to get that first game in under our belts.  It was West Holmes first game as well.  You could tell there some kids that hadn’t played a lot of varsity and had some jitters.  Now that those are out of the way hopefully, we can settle in and play some good softball from here on out,” he said.

          Lyons, a key to Madison’s run to the regional final last season, was not overpowering on Wednesday, but Niswander says she was precise and they played solid defense around her.  “Bailey Lyons had a complete game three hitter and didn’t walk anyone.  She didn’t have a lot of strikeouts, but she didn’t give up and hard hit balls either.  She moved the ball around and changed speeds.  She did a really nice job and we made some plays behind her.  Hope Barrett at shortstop and Kiley Rider at third base both played really well defensively.  It was a good team effort all of the way around in the pitching and defense department,” said Niswander.

          Lyons is maturing in the circle, according to Niswander, she is becoming more of a pitcher.  “Bailey is starting to learn how to pitch as opposed to just throw.  She understands what we are trying to do.  She throws effectively off the plate and then she pounds the strike zone as well.  The key when I’m calling pitches is I’m not all that concerned about strikeouts as I am about putting the hitter in a bad spot and keeping them off balance and I don’t really care if we get strikeouts,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “A lot of kids will rack up a ton of strikeouts, but we are going to pitch and move it around and play defense behind her.  Hopefully we hit enough and don’t have the 25 MPH win our face like we did (Wednesday).  That was a little bit of a challenge sometimes in the outfield, but the kids did a great job and make it work.”

 

Published 3/31/22

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Crawford Tops Riverdale

 

          Colonel Crawford downed Riverdale (6-1) in a non-conference softball game on Wednesday evening.

          Coach Sarah Fraser says they got an outstanding performance in the circle from Lauren Frieychen and the defense was pretty good too.  “We were struggling with our timing in our hitting and that is just something that is going to come with the more games that we play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “Once again Lauren (Frietchen) was phenomenal.  She had 11 strikeouts and no walks and on defense we had no errors.  So, on that side of things you can’t ask for anything more.”

          In many ways Wednesday’s win was a carbon copy of Tuesday’s (9-1) win over Plymouth, according to Fraser.  “That is two games in a row that she has had 11 strikeouts and no walks and we have had no errors.  So, when that happens that makes a huge difference in what could have been a loss and it made it a win,” she said.

          Colonel Crawford returns to action on Thursday against a solid Northmor team.  They play a doubleheader against another traditional power like them in Hillsdale on Saturday.  Then begin Northern 10 Athletic Conference play against Buckeye Central next week.

          Fraser says they have to focus on getting better.  “There is always room to improve and no matter how good your start is there are always things we want to focus on and concentrate on and get better.  That’s what we are doing, still working and grinding,” said Fraser.

 

Published 3/31/22

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Edison Hammers Seneca East

 

          Edison starter Thomas Simon allowed only one hit and the Chargers smoked Seneca East (13-0) in five innings in a non-conference baseball game on Wednesday evening outside of Attica.

          Dominic Dymind was the offensive star for the Chargers with a homer, a double and three RBI.  Simon helped himself with a couple of hits and two RBI.  Bradley Barker and Hyden Fry both doubled for Edison.

          Coach Sean Hoover says they got a lot of a players on the field and it was a solid opener for them.  “You really couldn’t ask for a better start to the season.  We got a lot of players in, got them some at bats and get rid of some of those first game jitters.  We played well defensively and Thomas (Simon) pitched very well too,” said Hoover.

          Simon struck out eight on the day.

          Hoover says he had good control.  “He threw a lot of strikes and we played really good defense behind him too.  We made a couple of nice plays.  We turned a double play.  So, it was a good start,” he said.

          Defense has always been important in high school baseball, but Hoover says never more than now with the restrictions put in place by the OHSAA a few years back.  “Especially now with pitch counts versus so many innings over three days like we used to do.  If you can play good defense and limit the errors your pitchers can go deeper in games.  It might stop you from using an extra pitcher in a day and depending on his pitch count a guy might be able to come back maybe a day or two earlier than he would have,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “So, defense has always been important, but now with pitch counts and everything too being able to play good defense and not making your pitchers throw extra pitches is really important to being really successful.”

 

Published 3/31/22

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Shelby Blanks Pleasant

 

          Shelby got an outstanding performance from Marshall Shepherd Tuesday and the Whippets shutout Marion Pleasant (5-0) in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference opener for both schools at Shelby.

          The Whippets shared the “MOAC” title last season with Ontario.  Highland beat the Warriors (4-1) and Clear Fork belted River Valley (9-2) while Marion Harding downed Galion (5-2) in other conference games played on Tuesday.

          Shelby coach Jon Amicone says Shephard is a leader who wants the ball.  “Marshall Shephard was our pitcher and he is our guy, he’s our ace.  He is an awesome kid, wonderful teammate.  He is the quarterback, stud basketball player, and he is the same for us.  He threw a complete game, 77 pitches, eight strikeouts, he is everything you want in an ace.  He wants the ball and he wants to go the distance.  It’s comforting as a coach when you have that kind of guy that wants to be the leader of team,” said Amicone.

          They didn’t get a lot of hits on Tuesday, but Amicone says the Whippets found a way to get some runs on the board.  “Our guys did a nice job throughout the lineup manufacturing runs.  The big hit eluded us there were sometimes when we could have had some more runs.  It was one of those games when we kept leaving runners on base,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Near the end of the game we started to bunt a little more and started to have more protection at bat in the bottom of our lineup and we were able to push a few across.  That is just the way it goes early in the season.  The bats are kind of playing catchup to the pitching and you just have to find ways to manufacture runs and I thought our lineup did a nice job of that.”

          Shelby plays at Pleasant on Wednesday.

          Amicone says they know they are going to have to be ready to play again.  “You don’t really want to start your first couple of games with league games, but that is the way the weather unfolded for us like many teams in the “MOAC” it was the cards we were delt.  We understand that Marion Pleasant is a really good team.  It was a really clean game for game one for both teams.  Both teams pitched well, I thought both teams played defense really well.  It was really clean.  We know we are going there and have a battle on our hands,” he said.

 

Published 3/30/22

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Wooster Downs Lexington in “OCC” Opener

 

          Drew Becker struck out 10 over five plus innings and Wooster beat Lexington (6-3) on opening day Tuesday evening in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          Blake Bowen had three doubles and three RBI and Drew Rader scored twice and two hits for the Generals.

          Coach Steve Young says it wasn’t their best overall effort, but they did enough good things to win.  “Like most of Ohio we were snowed out on Saturday, so to start your season with a league game and a big one.  We knew Lexington would be much improved from last year.  Obviously, it was very, very cold.  The field wasn’t perfect, but it was playable.  We were able to come out on top and not play our best.  I talked to our boys after the game and told them it is a lot more fun to learn from a win and not from a loss.  We will take it and go back to work (Wednesday) and hopefully make some improvements and see where everything lands,” said Young.

          Tuesday was an improvement weather wise from the first two days of the season, but it was still in the lower 40’s. 

          Young says they did well in battling the adversity.  “We made sure we hit inside so we could stay warm as long as possible then go out to our field and the guys were having to grab some rakes and turn the field over a little bit and smooth it out.  For us the big key is this year we have 15 guys on varsity and eight are either freshmen or sophomores, so some of these guys are taking live bullets for the first time and getting their first varsity experience,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “The cold, the conditions and a good opponent like Lexington it was good for our guys to work through a little adversity and it was good for the coaches to see how they responded to that.  We are talking to them every single day and coach them up and hopefully don’t make the same mistake twice.”

          Now, the two teams will play again on Wednesday, again at Wooster, and Young says they know they are going to see Lexington’s best.  “We are actually going to be playing this game at our field again because Lexington’s isn’t ready.  So, Lexington will be the home team, but it’s going to be at our home field.  We know we are going to get Cole Pauley on the mound and he is an Ohio State commit.  He can run it up there in the low 90’s with some good off speed stuff.  We talked to them after the game (Tuesday) that in this league there are no breaks, you have to bounce right back and make sure we come back focused and ready to go.  Enjoy this one, but when they wake up, hit that reset button,” he said.

 

Published 3/30/22

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Northmor Blasts Bucyrus in Home Opener

 

          Grant Bentley tossed four innings of shutout ball and added three hits as Northmor belted Bucyrus (10-0) in five innings in their first game at their renovated baseball field, which now includes a turf infield.

          Griffin Workman added three hits on the day.  Andrew Armrose had a hit and two RBI for the Golden Knights.

          Coach Buck Workman says it was a solid opener.  “It was good to see.  It was just nice to get out there and get to play finally.  It was a little chilly, but it was better than it has been,” he said.

          Cooper Thomas broke open a close game with a clutch hit in the third and the Golden Knights went on to score five runs in the inning.  “We did everything right (Tuesday) night.  I want to give a shout out to Copper Thomas.  He came up with a big pinch hit to knock in two in the third inning that kind of opened it up with two outs.  That was huge and we just kind of rolled after that,” said Workman.

          Northmor also had no errors in the game, but Workman says they have things that still need refined.  “We still made plenty of mistakes situational wise in our hitting.  There are definitely some things we can get better at.  I don’t think we are going to be satisfied.  We have to keep growing and getting better game by game,” he said.

          Northmor returns to the diamond Thursday as the host Colonel Crawford (0-1) in a non-conference game.  The Eagles lost (11-3) to Plymouth on Tuesday.  They play Cardington in their Knox Morrow Athletic Conference opener on Friday.

          Workman says the fans turned out for the home opener and that was great.  “It was a great atmosphere.  The girls were playing, we were playing, there were a lot of people out for the first game,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I’ll tell you since that COVID year last year our fans were incredible.  Just the general public out watching games because they were allowed to do things and I think it has just carried over.”

 

Published 3/30/22

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Baker No Hits Crestview

 

          Buddy Baker threw a no hitter and Norwalk downed Crestview (1-0) in a non-conference baseball game on Tuesday evening.

          Veteran coach Wes Douglas says it was the first time in all his years at Norwalk that a pitcher has thrown a no hitter on opening day.  “It is the first one I have had in my 26 years.  Buddy had it working (Tuesday) night.  He had six strikeouts.  The left side of our infield was perfect over there.  Ian Minor had nine assists from third base.  Caleb Sommers three or four at short.  Our catcher Sammy Battles did a great job behind the plate and found a way to scratch out a 1-0 win,” he said.

          Douglas says they were able to manufacture a run to get the win.  “We got a pinch hit single from Ryan Fox.  He fought his way to second on a missed bunt attempt.  We bunted him to third and he scored on a sac fly.  So, we manufactured one.  They threw two good, young arms at us (Tuesday).  I think we only had four or five hits, but we found a way to push one across and the defense held up,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Buddy Baker was 5-1 last year as a junior.  Kind of came out of no where for us.  I was excited for him and his teammates were.  He has come a long way for us as a senior this year.  5-1 last year with a 1.60 ERA.  He starts off the season probably our number three pitcher and throws a no no.”

          Baker was outstanding and Douglas says their defense was just as good.  “With our pitching coach Wes Miller, we throw a lot of off speed.  He tells our pitchers to trust the left side of our infield.  Ian Minor made every play, backhand down the line, line drives, glove side, slow rollers.  Caleb Sommers made the same kind of plays at short.  Our first baseman Kelton Chapin picked a couple of balls out of the dirt.  They helped their pitcher out a lot.  Our field was a muddy mess at one o’clock, but by game time it came around and was about perfect,” said Douglas.

 

Published 3/30/22

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Fredericktown to be Good Again

 

          Fredericktown shared the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference title with Highland last season and advanced to the regional tournament too.  This year the Freddies should be very competitive again.

          They are due to open the season with a doubleheader against Wynford on Saturday, weather permitting.  Their first “KMAC” game is against Danville on April 1.

          Coach Ryan Hathaway says they graduated a lot, but they still have a number of pretty good players.  “We are reloading again.  We have seven guys back from last year’s team.  We have to replace a good senior class that we had, three or four guys that were four year lettermen and one three year guy.  We had a good senior class last year, but I think a lot of young guys we had up with us learned a lot and came back ready to contribute this year,” said Hathaway.

          Pitching is the key to baseball success and Hathaway says they have some depth when it comes to good arms.  “Right now, I think our pitching depth is a strength.  It is probably the must arms that we have had.  Guys that can throw quality innings,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “Overall, from top to bottom it is probably one of the better teams as far as being able to plug guys in different positions.  It is really going to come down to who is swinging the bats as far as getting guys in the lineup.”

          Highland has moved to the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference and Hathaway says that does make the race a little different.  “We have had our battles with Highland the last six years that I have been here.  Every year that was one that we had always circled at least making sure that we had the right rotation going into those games.  We still have them on the schedule, but it just changes things as far as league wise.  It will be different, but I think it will still be a good race this season,” said Hathaway.

 

Published 3/25/22

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Wooster Looking to Defend “OCC”

 

          Wooster, the defending champion in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, will be gunning for a second straight title this spring.

          If they get it, it would tie them with Lexington for the most in “OCC” history.

          Coach Steve Young says they have some younger players who are excited to prove themselves.  “This is one of those years when we did lose quite a bit from last year, but we do have at least a few lettermen returning.  Overall, we are definitely very young this year.  We have 14 or 15 guys depending on the day on varsity and seven or eight of those are freshmen and sophomores.  It just kind of depends on the day.  We might have some growing pains, but we do have a nice top half of some experience,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “So, comparing the two years would be hard.  We are excited, we have a lot of young guys that are showing some promise and a good mix of those vets as well.  We are excited to see how it kind of unfolds.  Just grind through the season and see where everything lands.”

          Young says they have a couple of guys at the top of their rotation that should be pretty good in league games.  “Top end pitching is a strength.  We return Drew Becker, who last year pitched a lot of big non-league games, especially St. Ignatius, Wadsworth, Avon, Jackson.  So, he is back, he is a senior this year and he is ready to go on the mound.  We also return Elijah Steiner, who is a junior this year.  Last year, he was “OCC” pitcher of the year as a sophomore.  He has been pretty steady for us.  That is probably our greatest strength I would say.  We have pretty good team chemistry so far.  It’s early and we need to develop that,” said Young.

          Young believes they can be competitive this year in the “OCC” as will most of the other schools.  “We hope to compete for it every year obviously.  We are very aware of the balance of the league this year.  We lost a lot.  I know a lot of teams were playing a lot of young guys last year in the league.  It should be competitive.  It should be a fun league.  Hopefully, we come out on top in the end, but we will have to earn that,” he said.

 

Published 3/25/22

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Highland Back in “MOAC”

 

          Highland, who has been one of the best baseball schools in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference, has moved back to the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

          Coach Donnie Kline says it is a different challenge.  “We are headed back to the “MOAC”.  We have been members before.  It has been a few years.  There are some new faces, so new schools in the league.  Just a lot of good baseball played in the “MOAC”,” he said.

          Clear Fork, Ontario and Shelby are now part of the “MOAC”.

          Kline says they have been able to get a good look at their kids.  “I think every coach has question marks as to where they are at.  Getting a chance to play some different jerseys this past week was fun.  We got a chance to play Gahanna and Buckeye Valley and Cardington.  It was good to see some different jerseys.  The boys handled themselves pretty well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We are a senior laden team.  We have a lot of experience and high baseball I.Q.’s.  Some guys have moved positions and you always worry about team chemistry.”

          Kline says their goal is to develop players with versatility.  “We try not to make position players, we try to develop baseball players.  Not necessarily a third baseman or a shortstop or second baseman.  We have a lot of Swiss army knives.  A lot of guys with versatility.  I think one of the challenges for us this year will be can we get the right guys in position in time.  A lot of the guys can play infield or they can catch or play in the outfield.  A lot of guys have arms that can throw.  It is just a matter of the staff finding the right guy for the right spot,” he said.

          Highland does have some depth on the pitching mound and Kline says that will be key for them.  “Well, pitching is the life blood of any program.  We have some senior pitchers back.  We have Blake Jodrey, who had a fantastic year last year.  He was 8-1 with a 1.10 ERA, all-district kind of guy.  We have Rider Minnick back, Zach Pinkerton, Copper Merckling and juniors like Brock Church and Zach Schmidt will throw as well.  You never think you have enough arms, but I will say he have a lot guys that can fill up the zone.  If they do, we hope the gloves can play defense behind them,” said Kline.

 

Published 3/25/22

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Mohawk Very Young This Year

 

          Mohawk, with a solid baseball reputation, will be team that will likely have some growing pains early in this season.

          The start the year against McComb, weather permitting, on Saturday.  They open play in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference on April 4 against Bucyrus.

          Coach Eric Hoover says they are going to be pretty green at the beginning of the season.  “We had our second scrimmage (Thursday) night.  We had some different issues in each one.  We just have a young, inexperienced group.  I graduated seven seniors.  I have two guys that had football and basketball injuries who would be starters that are out and are going to be out all year.  So, we lost a bunch.  I only have three returning lettermen,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We have great numbers, we have 28 out, which is the most we have had, but 21 of them are freshmen and sophomores.  So, we are young and inexperienced.  There is a lot of potential there for sure.  We have seen a lot of good things.  We just have to get those game at bats.  We just haven’t seen enough varsity pitching and those types of game situations that you run into.  So, we are struggling through that.  It’s a learning experience.  They are athletic and have some baseball skills, so hopefully we can put that together.”

          Hoover says they have to get some experience on the diamond to see who belongs where.  “We were able to get out quite a bit last week and that was good to get on the field and get some good practice in.  With all of these young guys I don’t even know who is capable of what and where they should be playing and everything else.  We have been using that time for that where people might fit best and what all they can do,” he said.

          Weather is always an issue with spring sports, it can be cold as late as early May, and Hoover says they have to show some maturity when it comes to dealing with those issues.  “You have to play games when it is really cold, so you have to get used to that as well.  (Thursday) night it was really cold out and windy and hopefully some of them learned what it is going to be like because they were not prepared for the weather.  I tried to tell them, but I guess they have to learn on their own.  You have to be ready to play games like that.  You can’t let the weather affect your play in the game,” said Hoover.

 

Published 3/25/22

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Madison Loaded This Season

 

          Madison caught fire at the end of last season and marched all of the way to the division II regional title game.  They hope they can warm up a little quicker this spring.

          Coach Tim Niswander says so far, so good, because they have looked pretty good in the preseason.  “We are a lot further ahead then we were a year ago because we only graduated two kids and one of them was a part time player, so essentially, we have everybody back.  We are going to start a couple of freshmen who are very, very talented.  The other eight kids around them are all returning starters for a team that played in the regional final a year ago.  The expectation is very, very high.  The experience we have coming back has put us further ahead than where we were a year ago, which at times was very frustrating with the slow pace on how they were picking things up,” he said.

          Niswander says talent is one thing and they have that, but good teams are ones that are focused for every practice and every game.  “I think the biggest thing now is we have to stay focused and understand that we have to come and play everyday because teams are going to be gunning for us after what happened at the end of last year.  So, we have to be ready to play and at the top of our game every day with the schedule that we play.  We are in the tournament up at Keystone, we are in the Wendy’s.  We play a very strong non-conference schedule.  Our league has rebounded to get really good again at the top with Ashland, Lex, and Mt. Vernon and ourselves,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We have to bring it every day and the kids have to stay focused every day and not take days off.  When you are in and out of the gym and hopefully get on the field this week for a day or two sometimes that focus is tough to corral and tough to get kids moving in the right direction.  I think the way things have gone this year we have done a petty good job of focusing on up every day and hopefully when we start Monday at Bucyrus our kids are ready to go.”

          Madison plays West Holmes in their first Ohio Cardinal Conference games of the season next Tuesday and Wednesday.

          A strength the Lady Rams have this year, is they are going to have hitters throughout the lineup, according to Niswander.  “The two freshmen will probably hit eight and nine for us.  I am sure there are going to be some days when people are going to see that and think why on earth are those two kids down at the bottom of the order.  They both pass the look test.  They are both about six feet tall and are workout warriors in the weight room and they both hit the ball extremely hard.  We are probably not going to be as fast as we were last year, but the power at the bottom of our order is really going to put some pressure on some pitchers and they are not going to be able to take a break with the nine that we throw out there.  We have depth off of the bench as well.  The good news is we have got some depth.  The bad news is we have already lost a couple of kids to injury, although not fulltime varsity players.  They are kids that can impact that depth coming off the bench as well.  I think one through nine when we have our best nine out there, we can really swing it with just about anybody.  That being the case, we better pitch and play defense because those are the two things we have really been focused on,” said Niswander.

 

Published 3/24/22

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St. Paul Ready to Defend

 

          Norwalk St. Paul won the Firelands Conference baseball title last season and they may have players to do it again.

          Coach Aaron Fries says he has been happy with the way the team has developed during high school spring training.  “I feel pretty good about where we are at.  It has been a little hit and miss with the scrimmages just because of the weather this time of year as it is every year.  I am pretty happy with what I have seen.  It is still early yet and quite a bit to see and the picture isn’t quite clear yet.  I feel we are ready for the season and ready to go for Saturday,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “The big thing is the effort has been there, the attitude has been there.  When you have those two things going for you.  When your kids are showing up with great attitudes and giving 100 percent each and every drill in practice as a coach you feel like you are in pretty good shape even if you haven’t had a lot of good looks with live baseball just because of the weather.”

          The Flyers play Port Clinton in their opener on Saturday in non-conference action.  They begin defense of that Firelands Conference title April 4 and 5 against Crestview.

          Fries says they can compete for a conference title with improved hitting and fielding expected this spring.  “We have to replace some pitching.  We have 130 to 140 innings to replace, but we had some kids really working hard in the off season.  We really feel good about them as far as replacing those innings.  I think we will be a bit better of a hitting team this year.  Defensively, I think we are going to be better as well.  We always pride ourselves on our defense.  This year we have almost our entire infield back.  Our outfield is just extremely athletic.  I have added a couple of kids in the corners that are just really athletic and can track down the baseball to go along with our centerfielder, who got a lot of experience last year in the outfield and is primed to have a really good year out there,” said Fries.

          The most important part, according to Fries, will be the development of their pitching.  “Overall, I feel pretty good about our team.  Our pitching we are kind of in a show me situation.  I have a lot of confidence in the kids.  I have seen a lot of good things in the preseason and leading up to our first game, but until you go between the lines and you do some good work it is still kind of a show me thing,” he said.

 

Published 3/24/22

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Ashland Counting on Veterans

 

          Ashland hopes to be near the top of the Ohio Cardinal Conference standings this year as they will feature a lineup with more varsity experience this spring.

          They are slated to start the season with Tiffin Columbian on Saturday in non-league action.  They open the Ohio Cardinal Conference schedule April 5 and 6 against Lexington.

          Coach Rick Gough says they have a lot of kids with time on the varsity diamond at their disposal.  “We have got a lot of work in.  We have managed to get two scrimmages in.  This year’s team is a little different.  Last year’s team was young and unproven.  This year we have got 10 returning lettermen that are going to see some significant action and I hope they able to take the next step,” he said.

          Gough believes this is an Arrow team that will get more hits.  “Being away from varsity baseball for a year they do forget a little bit.  We have had a good spring so far.  We are just working on some of the things we need to improve from last year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “I think if we hit the ball for a little better average and be a little more aggressive at the plate that is one of our goals.  I think this year too with the returning kids we are going to be better defensively than we were last year.”

          Defense is a key for high school baseball teams and Gough wants to see improvement there.  “Our goal every year is to average two errors or less per game.  I think if we do that it gives us a good chance to win.  You want to limit the freebees that you give to the other team.  That is one of our priorities to improve defensively,” he said.

 

Published 3/24/22

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Bellevue Counting on Pitching

 

          Bellevue had a very good postseason last year and they hope to carry that into this spring.

          Their season starts on Saturday at home against Upper Sandusky in non-conference play.  Their first action in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference comes at Vermilion on April 4.

          Coach Andy Dennings says they have been preparing well.  “We have got some really good looks here so far.  Some really good practices.  We got in a partial scrimmage and one full.  I thought our guys really made sone good strides within the scrimmage and going from the first to the second one.  We have things to clean up, but we have a really nice group of kids that enjoy playing the game of baseball together.  They are a lot of fun to coach.  We are excited about this year,” he said.

          Dennings believes they will have good pitching and solid defense, especially up the middle.  “We have a lot of arms.  We can probably run nine or 10 guys out there.  With that being said we have to have some guys start to develop into elite guys and to our primary relievers and our non-league starters.  So, we have to get some roles figured out within our pitching, but we have a lot of options, but I think we can run a lot of kids out there and compete on the bump,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We return our middle defensively, our short, our second, catcher and centerfielder.  We have all starters back there so that is a real positive for us.  With corner stuff, we have some returning time there, but as a whole they are a little more inexperienced.  If you are going to return stuff, your want to return stuff up the middle.”

          Bellevue battled some adversity last season and Dennings says being able to handle that will help them this season.  “We have comradery, like I said, this is a good group of kids and a lot of them know each other and have been buddies for years now.  A lot of these kids were on this team last year when we didn’t have the start we wanted to, but we really started to play really good baseball at the back end of the year.  So, they tasted a little bit of the that adversity and grew from it and got a lot closer together.  I think last year’s trials and tribulations are really affecting how they are approaching this year,” said Dennings.

 

Published 3/24/22

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Colonel Crawford Looking For Answers

 

          Colonel Crawford won the outright Northern 10 Athletic Conference title last season and advanced to the district final, this year, however, is going to be more of a process.

          Coach Dan Gorbett says with injuries and they are still trying to put together what their opening day lineup could be like.  “We have had a lot of ups and downs.  We have had the injury bug and our starting, freshmen, third baseman and shortstop blew out his knee in football.  There have been holdups in getting the brace so he can rehab and he finally got it (Tuesday), three weeks late.  We were hoping to have him April 1 but is just now going to start rehab and that will take several weeks.  Our catcher has a bad elbow, so it is looking like he is not going to be able to catch this year, so we are trying to figure out how we are going to plug those holes and rotate people,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “So, it is really a process.  Usually by this time you have a pretty good idea what you want to do and we are not quite there yet.  We are going to be moving pieces around here probably though the first two weeks of the season.”

          What might help the Eagles is Mason Studer, the division III district player of the year in basketball, is out for baseball for the first time at the high school level.  It’s hoped he can be a difference in terms of making things happen and his leadership.

          The Eagles start the season at Lucasville Valley, in southern Ohio, on Saturday.  On April 4 and 6, they open “N10” play against Buckeye Central.

          Gorbett says scrimmages and early season games are going to be important to try and determine who gets on the field.  “We have gotten our first three scrimmages in.  I know they are calling for bad weather this weekend.  We will see if that actually happens.  Next week we have some tough non-league games.  We are going to need all of those to figure out who plays where.  We may be moving people around all year long.  When this person pitches, we have to move another person to cover that position.  Rotating a lot more than I have in the past,” said Gorbett.

          Gorbett believes this team can hit, but they haven’t developed that consistency yet.  “In scrimmages, we have really been up and down.  There are times when we have looked good, make good swings and times when we have just had bad at bats.  I told the team after the scrimmage (Tuesday), I believe we can be a solid hitting team and the talent is there.  A lot of them I think are pressing, trying too hard.  I think once we get a couple of hits and it falls together, I think that is an area where we could be a pretty solid team,” he said.

 

Published 3/23/22

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