The Mayhem made it 46 consecutive victories with a 17-7 victory over the Sebring VFW to win the Class HH state championship at Sunday’s Ohio Hot Stove tournament.
Class HH is the youngest of the seven classes in Hot Stove competition, consisting mainly of 9-year-olds.
“They’ve played as a team all year,” Mayhem coach Bob Sanders said. “That was what we stressed, and that was the way they played. They never got down on themselves and never got down on each other.”
They never had much cause for that. The Mayhem finished the season 26-0 and went the full seven innings against only three opponents. They were 20-0 last summer when they were in the farm-team tournament.
“This is the best group of players I’ve ever had coaching either baseball or football,” Sanders added.
The Mayhem bookended big innings to defeat Sebring, scoring six runs on five hits in the top of the first and icing the victory in the seventh with seven runs.
Their championship was one of two won by Lorain County teams. Vermilion Pat O’Brien Chevrolet won the Class E crown by defeating the Coventry Comets 5-2. Class E is the division for the oldest players, ages 15-18.
Two county teams failed to take home a title on Sunday. Grafton CommStar lost 22-9 to Alliance Kiwanis in Class GG (age 11). The Lorain Titans fell 11-6 to Miller Farms of Valley City in Class EE (15-16).
Jacob Landers was named Most Valuable Player in the HH tournament. He held Sebring to just two runs over four innings — a stretch in which Midview had problem generating any offense.
“We were swinging at first pitches,” Sanders said. “We told them to work these pitchers and you saw the results in the last two innings.”
A bases-loaded walk to Chase English scored a run in the sixth to make the score 10-7. Two bases-loaded walks in the seventh, to Sanders and Landers, scored the 15th and 16th runs.
Preston Botos, Andrew Shaver and English also had run-scoring hits in the final inning and the Mayhem also got one run home on a wild pitch and scored another when Samuel Presser was struck by a pitch with the bases full.
Shaver returned in the last of the seventh and retired the side in order.
“Our two pitchers (Landers and Shaver) have carried us through the tournament,” Sanders said. “We have other good pitchers, but we have stuck with them here.”
Bryce Sanders had three hits for the Mayhem. Presser had three runs batted in, including two RBIs on a two-run hit in the first.
Two big defensive plays also helped. Jesse Rohal stopped a sharply hit grounder to third, going to his left to get it, and unleashed a perfect throw to first to get the third out and keep the score 9-7.
“That was a very key play,” Sanders said. “He has a cannon for an arm and that’s why we put him at the hot corner.”
Sanders also mentioned Bryce Sanders, the Mayhem’s catcher, throwing out a potential base-stealer in the second inning.
“They (Sebring) were just getting some momentum going,” Sanders said. “That was what made that play so important. They were just starting to get their offense untracked.”
Sam Deehr was named Thurman Munson MVP of Class E after pitching a complete game for Pat O’ Brien. Deehr allowed one earned run and four hits — only one after the second inning — while striking out eight and walking one.
“I felt good the whole day,” Deehr said. “I was trying to get the ball down and get groundballs, but a few got in the air. Luckily the defense came through.”
The defense was shaky at first. An infield error allowed Coventry to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. A fly ball lost in the sun went for a double in the second.
Deehr got seven groundouts and six flyouts to go with his eight strikeouts. He retired nine straight batters at one point.
“When he feels his grove, he’s right there,” Vermilion manager Mark Stavole said. “I expect a great future for Sam. Really, the whole team makes me proud.”
Vermilion (16-2) used a three-run third inning to break a 1-1 tie. Caleb Staller reached on an error with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch before Steve Spangenberg singled him home.
Spangenberg moved up on a groundout to second base, stole third and scored on Deehr’s single. A balk and a Nick Palacios single brought Deehr home.
Shawn Hazelwood’s double in the first scored Staller, who had been hit by a pitch, to tie the score at 1.
Vermilion scored its final run in the sixth when Branden Burke doubled with one out and scored all the way from second on Andrew Prete’s groundout to second. The throw to the bag was low and wide, forcing Coventry first baseman Vince Woicehavich to fall on his stomach to hold the ball and touch the base with one foot. With Woicehavich in such an awkward spot, Burke did not stop going around third and beat the throw to home.
The Lorain Titans suffered their first loss of the season after 22 victories. Miller Farms, which lost a 5-4 game to the Titans in the regular season, scored seven runs in the bottom of the second inning to snap a 2-2 tie.
“That is a great hitting team, maybe the best we’ve seen,” Lorain manager Dan Ternes said. “Still, it was a great season, no question.”
Andre Morales had two hits and Antoine Edwards, Michael Velez and Paul Camacho added doubles for the Titans.
Alliance Kiwanis collected 22 hits to overwhelm Grafton CommStar. Grafton was down just 6-4 in the third inning before Alliance pushed the lead to 15-4 after 4½ innings.
“What can I say, their hitters found every gap,” CommStar manager Ken Vance said. “My hat is off to them. They’re a great team.”
Jamie Myers led CommStar with a double and a triple, while Ray Shaver had a single and double and Aiden Vance two singles.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or email@example.com.