HAMLER – All summer Archbold’s ACME baseball team has had their sights set on making a return trip to the state tournament. They will get a chance to defend their title as they defeated Ottawa-Glandorf 5-1 to clinch the District 2 championship Tuesday at Patrick Henry.
“That was kind of our expectation this year,” said Archbold coach Kirk Weldy on his team reaching state for the second straight year. “We only lost two guys from last year, so a lot guys were itching to get back to the state tournament. That was an accomplishment for these guys. They’ve done a lot of work, a lot of things to make it this far.”
The Blue Streaks got out to an early lead in the bottom of the first, scoring two runs on three hits. Nic Rodriguez walked to lead off the inning, then after a fly out, he moved up on a balk. However, when Bryce Williams singled and tried to steal second, it forced a rundown in which the Titan defense fired home to get Rodriguez trying to catch them off guard.
Archbold then got a big hit from Gabe Petersen who hammered a triple to right field that scored Bryce Williams to make it 1-0. Kade Kern followed with a RBI single, giving them a 2-0 lead after one.
Mitch Grosjean led off the bottom of the second with a double and later came home on a wild pitch for what was then a 3-0 Archbold lead.
“We are one of those teams that if we get started off the first couple of innings and get some momentum, that’s a big thing for us,” said Weldy. “When we kind of go through the motions the first innings, it’s tough for us to fall into it and get it going.
“Luckily, we put the foot on the gas and had enough defense to get through.”
O-G got two of their first three batters to reach in the top of the third. They cashed in when the Streaks tried to turn a double play on Chase Schrieber’s ground ball to shortstop, scoring Owen Hiegel to trim the lead at 3-1.
However, Archbold got that run back in the next half inning.
Jeron Williams singled and Bryce Williams followed with a double which put runners on second and third. Petersen was then intentionally walked, but he was picked off at first for the first out of the frame.
The Blue Streak advantage was pushed to 4-1 on Kade Kern’s lineout that scored Jeron Williams, who was tagging up.
Archbold starting pitcher Bryson Taylor went five solid innings on the mound. In the fourth, he stranded a two-out single by Logan Miller. Schrieber singled with two outs in the top of the fifth for the Titans, but the inning ended on that play when Hiegel got caught in between third and home and was tagged out.
“Bryson’s getting a lot of movement on his ball,” said Weldy. “And that’s what really keeps batters off point. The only thing that he struggles sometimes with is throwing strikes. He got into situations where he needed to lean on the defense, and he threw a strike and got out of it.
“When you have that defense behind you, that pitching is a little bit easier.”
Rodriguez’s RBI single in the home half of the sixth completed the game’s scoring.
TJ Rice, who pitched the final two innings for Archbold, drew a foul out and two strikeouts after walking the leadoff hitter in the top of the seventh to cap off the victory.
Taylor would earn the win, allowing just four hits to go along with one strikeout over five innings. Evan Balash took the loss for O-G.
Kern went 1 for 3 at the plate and drove in two to pace the Blue Streak offense. Petersen went 1 for 1 with two walks and an RBI, while Bryce Williams had two hits in three at bats.
The Streaks can now look ahead to the state tournament in which they hope to repeat as state champions. Tournament play begins Saturday as Archbold opens against District 3 champion Anthony Wayne at 5 p.m. at Lima Shawnee High School.
“They are fundamentally sound,” said Weldy of his team’s first round opponent. “To be honest, at that point in time in the tournament, it’s gonna be the one person that makes a mistake and the other team that takes advantage of it. It is gonna be a fun game.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010