Archbold, led by starting pitcher Lathon Babcock, wiggled out of two bases loaded jams and responded in a big way offensively to defeat Swanton in NWOAL baseball action Tuesday, 9-2, on their home field.
“They stranded some guys early on and we were able to get out of those innings,” said Blue Streak mentor Dick Selgo. “And then we came in and scored runs on top of that. It was a morale booster for us and kind of a downer for them.”
The Bulldogs had three of their first four hitters reach in the top of the first inning, starting with Roman Epley who reached on an error. After a strikeout, Jordon Nyler doubled to left field and Gunnar Oakes reached on an error to load the bases for Swanton.
But, Babcock responded with a pair of strikeouts as he struck out the side and got out of the jam.
“We did a good job getting (on base), but then it seemed like we got a little too anxious and swung at some bad pitches,” said Swanton coach Tim McCarthy after the game.
A lot of the Bulldog struggles were caused by Babcock, who mixed his pitches nicely and made it tough on their hitters. He struck out five batters and walked zero in four innings pitched.
“He was throwing a lot of offspeed stuff. He wasn’t necessarily throwing it for strikes, but we helped him,” said McCarthy. “We were waving at some pitches outside the strikezone. It wasn’t that we weren’t putting the ball in play, we just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed it.”
Unlike Swanton, Archbold was able to dent the scoreboard in their half of the inning.
First, Toby Walker and Derek Walker each laid down quality bunts that went for singles to put runners on first and second. They came home two batters later when Ian Radabaugh doubled to left to make it 2-0.
“We laid some really nice bunts down,” said Selgo. “We were trying to manufacture some runs, and then we got some hits on top of that to put some runs on the board. We aren’t used to having a lead early in a game so that was really nice to see.”
The Bulldogs went down in order in the second and the Streaks were back at it in their half.
Brandon Miller drilled a one-out single to left and moved to second on a passed ball, then scored as a Swanton error allowed Nic Rodriguez to get to second. Another Bulldog miscue allowed Toby Walker to reach, scoring Rodriguez in the process and the Blue Streak lead was now 4-0.
After a Derek Walker single, Ben Bucklew’s sacrifice fly brought home Toby Walker to give the Streaks a 5-0 lead.
Swanton once again filled the bases in the top of the third, but Archbold did not give in.
Epley led off with a single to right-center field, then Jonny Shanks’ fielder’s choice got Epley out at second, and Nyler singled. The bases should have been loaded with one out for the Dogs after Oakes’ bloop single to center. However, Shanks was unsure if the ball would be caught, and was tagged out in between second and third.
“You are kind of in no man’s land on that,” said McCarthy of the play. “It was kind of 50/50. If he takes off for third and the guy catches it, it’s a double play.
“That play right there is not why we lost. It was one of those in between plays.”
Michael Lawniczak singled for Swanton to load the bases, but Babcock got Dean Sego down on strikes to end the threat.
Archbold got an RBI-single from Bryce Williams in the bottom of the third. Furthermore, an error on contact off the bat of Rodriguez scored Williams to increase their lead to 7-0.
Noah Johnston replaced Nyler on the mound for Swanton in the fourth, drawing a pop up from Derek Walker to begin the frame.
However, Bucklew would reach second on a fielding error, and Radabaugh hammered a double to make it 8-0. Radabaugh led all hitters as he was 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs.
“He has been hitting the ball like that this year, and he has hit a number of them that have been right at people. And now they are starting to find the holes,” said Selgo of Radabaugh. “He has been swinging it good for us.”
Seth Mayer also belted a double, plating Radabaugh to complete the scoring for the Streaks.
Swanton recorded doubles from Epley, Oakes and Lawniczak in the seventh, two of which brought in runs as they avoided the shutout.
“We are struggling right now, but I would rather struggle now than later,” said McCarthy. “I told the kids, it is a great time to get hot. We are about a week, two weeks away from the tournament, so that is what we are shooting for.”
Outside of Radabaugh, Miller (2 for 3), Derek Walker (2 for 4) and Mayer (1 for 4) also had RBIs. Oakes and Lawniczak were each 2 for 4 and knocked in Swanton’s only runs. Nyler had a pair of doubles.
For the Streaks, they are hoping to remain hot as they enter the back-end of their season.
“We’ve been playing pretty good baseball,” said Selgo. “We played seven games last week and we won five of the seven.”
The Streaks kept their hot streak going on Tuesday when they hosted Paulding and came away with a 5-4 victory. Mayer was 2 for 3 with a pair of RBIs in the contest.
Swanton was defeated 5-3 on the road at Maumee.
Archbold (14-4, 5-1 NWOAL) is at Bryan Thursday in a pivotal NWOAL battle, then hosts Fairview Friday before facing Ottawa Hills and Toledo Start on Saturday at Ottawa Hills. Swanton (8-5, 2-3 NWOAL) is at Wauseon Thursday and hosts Patrick Henry Friday in league play, then takes on Delta on Saturday at Fifth Third field in a non-league contest.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010