ELIDA – Friday afternoon’s Division III Elida Regional final between top-ranked Archbold and second-ranked Coldwater at Ed Sandy Field was as close as expected.
It was so good, the teams needed to go extra innings to decide matters.
The Cavaliers, who rallied with four runs in the top of the seventh to finally take the lead, added the game-winning run in the top of the eighth to grab a 5-4 victory.
“We preached all year to this team about being mentally tough, and we were. We kept battling and finally broke through in the seventh,” Coldwater head coach Brian Harlamert said. “We were seeing him (Archbold left-hander Rigo Ramos) for the second and third time in the lineup, and we finally got going. It was throughout the lineup, every player, every coach. We have a great senior class, and they are such great leaders with their effort and work ethic.”
“It was a tough way to lose a game. This is the fourth straight year we were in this game and the fourth straight year we lost,” Archbold head coach Dick Selgo said. “At some point, these 10 seniors I have will realize what it took to get this far and what they accomplished. There’s nothing you can really say to them right now. It was a great game, and I know every member of the community here watching this game is so proud of them.”
In the top of the eighth, Noah Miller led off with a single to right against third Blue Streak pitcher TJ Rice and Jake Hemmelgarn sacrificed him to second. Cole Frilling got aboard via a throwing error and Miller came in to score for that 5-4 lead.
Coldwater starter Jacob Wenning (seven-plus innings, 6 hits, 5 walks, 4 earned runs, 1 strikeout on 107 pitches) walked the first batter for Archbold, Mitch Grosjean, in the home half of the eighth and Will Broering came on in relief to retire the side to advance Coldwater.
Coldwater trailed 3-0 entering the top of the seventh against Ramos (6 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts on 98 pitches). The first three batters: Miller, Hemmelgarn and Frilling (bunt); singled to load the bases. Broering grounded to third baseman DJ Newman, who tried to tag Hemmelgarn but couldn’t, scoring Miller and keeping the bases loaded. That brought Blue Streak fireballer Jeron Williams to the mound and he promptly hit pinch-hitter Ross Weigel to bring home Hemmelgarn. Jack McKibben singled to left to score Frilling and tie the game but Broering was thrown out by left fielder Grosjean at home to keep it there.
Austin Riethman walked to reload the bases and bring Rice to the mound. Myles Blasingame (3-for-4) lined a single up the middle to score Weigel and a 4-3 lead. Wenning lined out hard to second baseman Clay Nafziger to start the Blue Streaks’ third double play of the game.
In the home half, with two down, Holden Galvan walked and Kade Kern’s triple to left scored him.
Before the late-game heroics by the Cavaliers, Ramos limited Coldwater to two hits of shutout baseball, walking two.
“Perhaps I left Rigo in too long. He had made it several times through their lineup,” Selgo said. “Then, Jeron didn’t have it today. In the end, though, give Coldwater credit for never giving up and battling the whole way. We had to do it, too, when they rallied but when we did so, they kept rallying. I thought we might have some momentum when we got the run in the seventh. That’s a credit to their program and players.”
Archbold got a run in the bottom of the second inning on a leadoff walk to Cory Erbskorn, a sacrifice bunt by Travis Ziegler and a single to left by Grosjean for a 1-0 lead.
Archbold made it 3-0 in the home third. Williams beat out an infield hit to the hole at short, Holden Galvan sacrificed and Kern (2-for-4) doubled to the left-field corner to put runners at second and third. With Erbskorn facing a 1-1 count, he attempted to lay down a squeeze bunt but missed. In the rundown at third, a throwing error was made, allowing Williams to make it 2-0 and putting Kern at third, from where he scored on Ziegler’s shot to right for a 3-0 lead.
Archbold blanks Upper Sandusky in semi
During the regional semifinal Thursday at Ed Sandy Field, it took some late offense from the Streaks to prevail 3-0 over Upper Sandusky.
It took three straight two-out hits which produced a pair of runs in the home half of the fifth, then Cory Erbskorn drove in Jeron Williams in the bottom of the sixth.
“I wish we could have brought some of those runs with us from the district tournament against Lake with us today. But we couldn’t,” stated coach Dick Selgo. “I knew that you’re not always gonna score 15 runs, or 8 runs in the first inning. Ideally, that makes life a lot easier. But that wasn’t the case today. We were up against a very good opponent. A very worthy opponent.”
In the aforementioned fifth, Mitch Grosjean got the rally started with a base hit. TJ Rice would bring him home with a double to the wall in left field.
“My big concern was, going into the game, we’re so used to scoring, and scoring early and scoring big,” explained Selgo. “That if we didn’t, we would start feeling the pressure. And that was happening a little bit. So TJ Rice’s double with two outs was big to get us on the scoreboard there.”
Kreighton Sims followed with a run-scoring single to score Rice.
What also didn’t help the Streaks was Upper Sandusky pitcher Jason Holly, who was dynamite through four and two-thirds innings.
“He did a great job,” said Selgo of Holly. “He had a nice fastball and good off-speed stuff. His control was good. We just never got many good swings in. Any way you can score three runs, we’ll take them.”
However, Archbold was equally as effective on the mound. The combined efforts of Rigo Ramos, Ethan Hagans and Jeron Williams surrendered no runs on four hits, with four walks to eight strikeouts.
Ramos went the first inning where he set down the Rams in order. Hagans followed and went four innings, exiting after a leadoff walk in the top of the sixth.
Williams pitched the sixth and punched out a pair in the seventh, however, he was pulled in a 3-0 count when facing Jordan Wright. The decision was made to preserve him for a potential regional championship match, as he was at the 30-pitch limit which would make him ineligible the next day.
Ramos, after walking Wright and allowing a base hit by Diago Cazarez to load the bases, struck out Cole Sowers for the final out.
“I’ve got to commend our pitching,” stated Selgo. “Ethan Hagans has been holding us in games all year long. He did that again today. Williams came in, did an excellent job.
“He (Williams) throws hard and he’s a competitor. He wanted to be in that situation. Him and Ramos have been in a lot of big pressure situations between baseball and basketball. They relish that situation.”
“We had people in scoring position several times,” said Upper Sandusky coach Scott Emerick. “Then you hit a ball hard, (but) you just hit it right to them. We had our chances. We had just as much chances as they did. They just got the hits when they needed and we didn’t.”
Leading Archbold at the plate was Williams who finished 2 for 3 with a run scored. Rice went 1 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored.
Holly had three hits in three at-bats for the Rams.
Max Householder contributed to this article