GRAFTON — The Firelands Crushers and Elyria Gladiators were each coming off firsts in their Class F Hot Stove tournament game at Reservoir Park on Sunday.
Firelands lost its first game of the season this week and Elyria just won its first-ever Hot Stove tournament game Saturday. It was all Crushers, though, as they ran away with a 16-2 game shortened to five innings by mercy rule.
Firelands will play Midview Ross — a 10-0 winner over Columbia Scott’s on Saturday — next Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Palmer Field in North Ridgeville.
The Crushers went 26-1 and won the Class FF state championship last year. Their only loss was in the Lorain County championship game — the same place they suffered their only defeat this season.
Firelands (19-1) coach Jeff Metzger is hoping Sunday’s win is the start of a repeat run through the Class F Hot Stove tournament.
“For some reason the loss seems to wake up the boys a little bit,” Metzger said. “We’re still playing good ball and the kids were ready to come out and hit today.”
Every player on the Crushers roster either scored a run or drove in a run in the win over the Gladiators. Nick Denney and Hunter Willbond led the way as both went 3-for-3.
Denney, who pitched the final inning of the game, had a double and a triple to drive in four runs. Willbond drove in three runs and added a pair of doubles from the bottom of the batting order.
“It was just one of those days when I saw the ball well at the plate,” Willbond said. “I think in the long run losing (the county championship) kind of helps us. It made us focus on the tournament.”
Firelands scored one in the first, but Elyria was unfazed as Kyle Dull walked and came around on a single over the first base bag to tie the score at 1 after one inning.
The Crushers put the game away in the second inning, though, sending 13 batters to the plate and scoring eight times — only three of the runs were earned — against Elyria pitcher Logan Townsley, who went the distance in the loss.
Jacob Campbell drove in one run, Willbond knocked in two with his first double, Denney drove home a run and Noah Metzger (2-for-3) plated the final two runs of the inning with a single to left field.
Firelands starting pitcher Evan Lacey picked up the win.
Columbia Jacobsky Plumbing found a way to earn a walk-off 10-9 win in a Class FF tournament game over Grafton Village Jewelers despite issuing 17 walks.
Jacobsky (8-10) will face South Amherst/Firelands, which posted an 11-0 win over Grafton Tommy’s Team, in Columbia on Saturday at 10 a.m.
“I’ve never been part of a game like this,” Columbia coach Sylvio Milluzzi said. “The strike seemed to change from inning to inning for both teams. I think our guys were able to adjust as the game went along and kept us in the game.”
Grafton (10-9) plated six runs in the first three innings without the benefit of a hit as Jacobsky starter Jared Bycznski struggled to find the strike zone. Bycznski issued 11 walks in 2⅓ innings and also had five wild pitches that aided Village Jewelers.
Despite the troubles on the mound, Grafton put itself back in the game by sending nine batters to the plate and scoring six times.
Billy Turner, Ben Skowronsky and Adam Ross each provided RBI hits for Columbia, setting up a wild finish in the last half of the seventh inning.
Grafton’s Matt Kardos provided the first hit of the game with a triple and scored on a balk by Columbia relief pitcher Bobby Costello. Zak Anderson and Kardos each drove home runs in the fifth for a 9-6 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning.
Jacobsky got a run back on a ground ball by Paul Diense in the sixth. In the seventh, walks were again at the heart of the walk-off win.
Jay Delisle singled to start the seventh before walks were issued to Costello and Nick Milluzzi to load the bases — Andrew Gooch pitched to the first two batters and was relieved by Kardos.
Bycznski’s infield single drove home one run, and Turner provided the win with a sharp single up the middle.
“I told Nick (Milluzzi), ‘I got this’ before I batted,” said Turner, who beat Grafton with a walk-off bases-loaded triple in a game last year. “I felt real comfortable going up there. I really thought I would be able to get a run home.”
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
South Amherst/Firelands 12, Spencer 7
Amherst Panthers 17, Grafton Linden Mfg. 7
Keystone Houston 11, South Amherst Firehawks 1
Firelands Storm 15, Medina Stars 5
Columbia Kile Constructions 9, Buckeye MTD 6
Sheffield Hitmen 8, Springfield Venom 6
Columbia Jacobsky Plumbing 10, Grafton Village Jewelers 9
Columbia Morgan Trucking 13, Lorain Cyclones 8
Firelands/South Amherst Crushers 16, Elyria Gladiators 2
Firelands/SouthAmherst 10, Southeast Palmyra 8