DEFIANCE — Entering the Division III district tournament as the highest remaining seed, Archbold got the job done with a 6-1 victory over Otsego Saturday at Defiance High School, and once again have earned themselves a berth to the regional.
Although this year’s team may not have been as highly revered as their teams from recent history, the Blue Streaks were able to get hot at the right time.
“We had a really young team with almost zero varsity experience. Which a lot of teams had that with the season getting shut down last year. But we had two seniors, and only one player that had any varsity experience. I’m proud as heck of these guys. They’ve never been in big games like this. For them to come through like this time and time again here lately, its just been huge for us. We are just gonna keep battling and see what happens,” said head coach Dick Selgo of his team capturing the district championship.
The Streaks scored five runs in the first three innings, then added another in the bottom of the fifth.
Otsego scored their run in the top of the first when Noah Dzierwa singled and stole second, moved to third on a ground out, then stole home for the early 1-0 advantage.
However, in the bottom of the inning, and with the wind blowing from left-to-right, Archbold’s DJ Newman belted a ball that carried over the wall in right field and tied the game.
“He’s been a key player there’s no question about that. And he’s a competitor,” said Selgo of Newman’s impact. “He’s a three-sport athlete and our guys look up to him. They are all feeding off that a little bit. His home run today was pretty huge early in the game that’s for sure.”
The Streaks marked a run with two outs in their half of the second. A pair of two-out hits by Gavin Bailey and Devon Morris, then Jack Hurst reaching on a fielding error at first that scored Bailey put them in front, 2-1.
All the while, Jayden Seiler was taking care of business on the mound. He went the full seven innings, giving up a run on three hits with 11 strikeouts to four walks.
Seiler stranded more than one base runner on four different occasions. In total, the Knights left eight men on base.
A key spot came in the third when Otsego’s first two batters reached, then were sacrificed into scoring position on a bunt by Ryan Gray. Seiler got out of the jam with strikeouts of Ty O’Brien and Jaxon Jeremy.
“We’ve got a freshman Jayden Seiler on the mound who just did an incredible job. He threw 120 pitches and we’ve never gone that long with him. I kept asking him and he said he was fine. So we were gonna keep going until we got to the max as long as he was feeling OK. He just kept getting better and better as the game went along,” Selgo said.
In the bottom of the inning Krayton Kern reached safely by a Knight error to lead it off. Then, similar to his hit in the first inning, Newman crushed one to deep right that nearly had enough for his second home run, but instead fell for a double that scored Kern.
The Streaks followed with three straight hits — including an RBI double for Jaybe Burkle and Caleb Hogrefe’s RBI single that pushed their lead to 5-1.
“We haven’t always gotten a lot of hits in games, but we’ve been able to put them together at the right time. That’s been a huge factor. Hopefully we can continue to do that,” said Selgo of the offense.
Hogrefe was also involved in the Streaks’ next run in the fifth. He led off the frame with a walk, was sacrificed to second by Zane Behnfeldt, and scampered home when a Bailey pop fly was dropped in the infield by Otsego.
Seiler sent the Knights down in order in the sixth and seventh, collecting four of his 11 strikeouts in the two innings.
Otsego’s Conner Smith was forced out of the game when the first four Blue Streaks reached in the third. He suffered the loss, allowing five runs — three earned — on seven hits and just a single strikeout.
Newman paced the offense, finishing 3 for 4 at the plate with two RBIs and a pair of runs scored. Burkle (2 for 4) had an RBI and also scored a run.
Archbold advances to the regional at Elida where they first will face Milan Edison on Thursday at 2 p.m. in the first of two semifinals. The regional final is set for Friday at 5 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.