ELIDA — For Archbold the fifth time was the charm, as the Blue Streaks grinded out a 3-2 win in 11 innings over Milan Edison Thursday, and then 8-3 over Liberty Union to win a Division III baseball regional championship on Friday at Elida’s Ed Sandy Field.
With the win, Archbold finally breaks through after coming up short in their previous four trips to the regional. It will be the program’s second ever state appearance. The first came back in 2005 when they won it all.
Against Liberty Union, Archbold trailed 2-1 following the first inning, scored two in the home half of the second and never looked back.
Krayton Kern’s RBI triple knotted the game at 2-2, and a squeeze play orchestrated by Gavin Bailey to bring home Kern put the Streaks in front, 3-2.
The Lions tied it again with a run in their half of the third, but the Streaks outdid them by scoring three in the bottom of the frame. Zane Behnfeldt struck first with a two-run stand up double that plated Caleb Hogrefe and Carson Dominique, then a Devon Morris double traded places with him for a 6-3 Blue Streak edge.
The Streaks scored two more in the fifth on Kern’s two-run double. That lead would hold the rest of the way.
Kern (3 for 4) drove in three runs while Behnfeldt (1 for 3) had two runs batted in.
Jayden Seiler went all seven innings in getting the win, needing just 90 pitches to do so. He allowed three runs — one earned — on six hits with two strikeouts and no walks.
Streaks outlast Chargers in extras
Archbold was likely charged up for the regional final after waiting 11 innings to get the win in the semifinal. Both the Streaks and Edison went scoreless in innings 7-10, with each squandering opportunities.
“Grind is the word for sure,” said Blue Streak skipper Dick Selgo of the win. “And perseverance, and resiliency, no question about it. Those are all terms that come to mind. Because things kept going wrong. We had all kinds of opportunities. We couldn’t get the right hit at the right time. Finally we got the sac fly. I was wondering if we were ever going to get it.”
That sac fly came off the bat of Brandon Taylor in the 11th. Bailey reached on a throwing error to lead it off, and Brayton Hobbs’ double put a pair of runners in scoring position.
Following a strikeout, Taylor flew a ball out to shallow center field and with help from an off-target throw, Bailey was able to score and give Archbold the 3-2 victory.
“We’re going. I mean, any chance at all we’re going,” said Selgo on sending Bailey on the final play. “Our base runner, Gavin Bailey, did a tremendous job of getting back to the base right away. So many young kids, they want to take off. He got back to the base right away and did a tremendous job. Waited until the ball was caught, and then went.”
If the Streaks hadn’t pulled it out, they would have been wondering what could have been. They twice loaded the bases in extra innings, however, failed to score each time.
In the eighth, they did so with one out on a single from Kern, DJ Newman’s double to left, and a free pass given to Jaybe Burkle. However, when Hogrefe flew out to left, it was not deep enough to send Kern from third. Behnfeldt also flew out, ending the inning.
The Streaks filled the bases in the 10th via Newman’s one-out infield single, a Burkle base hit and Hogrefe’s walk. Newman would be caught in a rundown coming home on a suicide squeeze attempt that was not laid down by Behnfeldt, and the inning ended when Behnfeldt popped up.
Archbold opened up the scoring in the first with Kern marking an unearned run. That lead held until the fifth when Edison tied it on a Bryce Michaelis RBI single.
Both the Streaks and Chargers scored again in the sixth. For Archbold, it came on Newman’s RBI double to tie it at 2-2.
Newman went eight innings for the Streaks before having to be pulled when reaching the 125 pitch limit. He allowed two runs — just one earned — on three hits with 11 strikeouts and only three walks.
“He’s a warrior out there. And he’s been a horse all year long,” Selgo said. “We know how well he’s gonna compete when we put him out there. He would have gone the whole game if he didn’t have a pitch count to deal with. Just a tremendous outing by him.”
The problem was Edison’s Thomas Simon was as good.
Simon went nine innings before reaching his pitch limit, surrendering two runs on eight hits with 14 strikeouts and only one walk.
“He threw a great game,” said Selgo of Simon. “Again, we’re glad of the pitch count rule or he’d still be out there right now.
“We knew he was gonna be good. We did get some hits, but we couldn’t get the right one at the right time. Which is what we’ve been able to do lately.”
Archbold will head to the Division III state tournament held at Canal Park in Akron beginning Thursday. The Streaks are in the second semifinal at 1 p.m. Thursday where they are pitted against Canton Central Catholic.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.