ELIDA – Both teams had big innings but Eastwood’s four-run fourth was the difference as they defeated Archbold in comeback fashion, 5-4, in the Division III baseball regional semifinal Thursday at Ed Sandy Field in Elida.
For Archbold, it was a game of missed opportunities as they left nine men on base.
“We had guys on base,” said Archbold coach Dick Selgo. “We stranded too many guys. We needed to get a key hit here or there. We didn’t come through.”
It was the Blue Streaks who struck first scoring four runs on four hits in the top of the third.
Nic Rodriguez and Toby Walker kicked off the frame with a pair of one-out singles. A ground out from Jeron Williams moved both runners up, leading to a two-run single off the bat of Bryce Williams to give the Streaks a 2-0 lead.
Gabe Petersen followed with a triple to left which brought home Bryce Williams from first, then Ian Radabaugh reached on an error to make it 4-0.
However, those were the final runs of the game for the Streaks.
Eastwood got one back in the next half inning. Collin Dewese and Brendan Halko each singled to lead off the inning, and after a foul out, Grant Hirzel’s single loaded the bases. Eagles’ starting pitcher Jacob Pickerel then helped himself out on the mound by hitting a sacrifice fly which scored Dewese to cut Archbold’s lead to 4-1.
The four-run fourth for the Eagles began with a pair of walks issued to Justin Pickerel and Tyler Schmeltz. A harmless sacrifice bunt from Alex Ross was going to move the runners into scoring position, but an error on the throw to first enabled Justin Pickerel to come home.
With no outs yet to be recorded, Dewese hit a foul ball deep to left field that was snagged by the Archbold fielder. But although it was a nice diving play in foul territory, it allowed Schmeltz to score, trimming the margin to 4-3. Selgo had no problem with the choice made by his left fielder.
“We needed to get some outs. Because we didn’t have any, so we needed to get an out,” he said. “If that was later in the game it might be a different story. But he went after it and his instincts were to catch it and he made a great catch.”
After a strikeout, Cade Boos’ run-scoring single knotted the score. The Eagles then took the lead on a double by Hirzel.
“We walked the first two guys. Trevor (Rupp) pitched a great game, but he usually doesn’t walk guys,” said Selgo on the fourth inning. “And then we gave them six outs that inning and that was the ball game.”
Archbold put the tying run in scoring position in each of the last three innings, but failed to score.
The top of the fifth ended with a pair of strikeouts after Bryce Williams’ one-out infield single and Petersen’s walk. In the sixth, Rodriguez reached on a catcher’s interference call and Walker walked to put runners on first and second with two outs. This forced Jacob Pickerel out of the game but the new pitcher, Dewese, got Jeron Williams to ground out ending the inning.
Bryce Williams singled and got to second on a bunt in the seventh, however, Dewese struck out both Radabaugh and Kern to end it.
Jacob Pickerel earned the win on the mound for the Eagles, pitching 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts. Rupp went the entire game for Archbold in taking the loss, giving up five runs on five hits and racking up five strikeouts himself.
Leading Eastwood’s offense was Hirzel who went 2 for 3 with an RBI. Bryce Williams finished 3 for 4 with two RBIs and a run scored for the Streaks.
Despite ending their season a game earlier than last year, Archbold and their two seniors can be happy with another successful season. They won a league championship for the first time since 2005 this season, and also captured their second straight district crown.
“It’s tremendous to get to the regionals, no question about that. But it is tough to lose when you get here,” said Selgo. “The farther you go the harder it is to lose.
“We had two seniors that did a whole lot for us this year. Toby Walker and Ian Radabaugh, they just had tremendous careers. And they helped lead this program for a couple years. They’ve set the tone for the younger guys.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010