DEFIANCE – Archbold and Fairview had four runs apiece by the end of second inning Thursday in the Division III district semifinal baseball game held at Defiance College.
The scoring fest even pushed Archbold starting pitcher Lathon Babcock from the game after an inning and two thirds. However, the senior came back later with an RBI-single to score Ben Bucklew in the bottom of the sixth, breaking the tie to give the Blue Streaks a 5-4 win.
“If you would have told me we were gonna have a four-run lead after one inning with Lathon (Babcock) on the mound and not hold onto it, I would have been surprised,” said Archbold coach Dick Selgo after the game.
Babcock bounced back on Saturday with a complete game, four-hit shutout of Tinora to lead the Streaks to a 2-0 win in the district final. It was Archbold’s first district title since 2005.
Against Fairview, Archbold’s offense was first to strike when, after a ground out to begin the bottom of the first inning, Toby Walker reached on an infield single. Bucklew followed with a base hit of his own and Bryce Williams was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
An Ian Radabaugh double scored Toby Walker and Bucklew to quickly make it 2-0. Babcock’s fly out was the second out of the frame, but it was deep enough to score Williams from third. Seth Mayer added an RBI-single as the Streaks led 4-0 after one.
But, in the next half inning the Apaches answered, doing all of their damage with two outs.
Fairview’s Hunter Bostater got the action going with a two-out single, then Kobe Baker reached on an infield single. Alex Jackson, Matthew Kozumplik, Luke Breininger and Wyatt Puffinberger all followed with RBI-singles to knot the score and push Babcock off the mound in favor of Trevor Rupp.
The sophomore went 4 1/3 innings in relief, allowing no runs on three hits with only one walk. Probably his best work came in the top of the third when he left a pair of base runners stranded in scoring position.
Fairview’s Justin Smith led off with an infield single, Austin Meyer also singled, and Bostater’s sacrifice bunt put them on second and third. However, Baker attempted a suicide squeeze and popped it up, and with the runner coming from third, the Streaks doubled him off to avoid damage.
“Trevor is sneaky fast and he has a very good curveball,” said Selgo of Rupp. “He usually throws strikes and he is a competitor. He doesn’t impress you with his size or anything else, but he is a competitor.”
The Streaks could manage just two base runners from the third inning through the fifth before finally striking iron in the home half of the sixth.
Bucklew drew a leadoff walk, then Williams’ sacrifice moved him up. After a fly out, Babcock came through in the clutch with a two-out base hit to put the Streaks ahead for good.
“When he had to come out of the game he kept his head in the game and comes up and gets the game-winning hit. It was just huge for a senior to bounce back and do that,” said Selgo on the resiliency of Babcock.
However, the seventh inning wasn’t a breeze for the Streaks.
Kozumplik was a hit by a pitch to start the inning, then Luke Breininger’s single put the tying run in scoring position. This forced Selgo to go to the bullpen again, this time bringing in Bucklew.
Puffinberger hit into a fielder’s choice as Breininger was out at second and Kozumplik got to third. Then, another fielder’s choice hit back to Bucklew enabled him to get the lead runner at home plate for the second out.
He then got Smith down on strikes to end the game.
“I felt like that was a situation for a veteran three-year starter, a senior, to come in even though he had just pitched a complete game over at Patrick Henry on Tuesday. He said ‘I want the ball coach.’ Boy he did a great job of getting us out of there,” said Selgo on Bucklew’s performance.
Archbold got a run in the bottom of the second and another in the sixth to outlast the Rams on Saturday. Babcock went 2 for 3 at the plate, while Mayer knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Archbold (21-8 overall) is at Ed Sandy Field in Elida Thursday at 2 p.m. where they will take on Elmwood in the regional semifinal.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010