NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Getting back to Alliance to compete for another state title was certainly on the minds of the South Amherst-Firelands Crushers as they faced the challenge of Columbia Morgan Truck on Sunday night at Palmer Field No.3.
But Columbia (25-13) had other ideas as it dropped a five-spot on the Crushers in the bottom of the first inning and held on for a 5-4 Class F District title win to advance to next weekend’s state tournament at Alliance.
Columbia joins a number of area district winners who will compete in the state tourney.
Firelands won last year’s FF state title and with pretty much the same cast figured it could do it again this time around. Sunday’s loss was only its second of the year in 24 games.
Columbia took advantage of three errors in the bottom of the first to plate five runs. Andy Perrott started things with a single and moved to second on a throwing error. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild throw. Another error put Jacob Aniol on second, a walk to Matt Caraballo and a fielder’s choice and another error scored Anoil. A walk to Chris Bowes and an RBI hit by Brandon Coleman and a two-run single by Alec Paine gave Columbia all the runs it needed.
“You can’t give up five runs to a good team like (coach Mike) Morgan’s team,” said Jeff Metzger, coach of the Crushers. “They’re a very good team. We battled them all season. Our boys came back and came back fighting. We were just one hit away.”
SA-Firelands couldn’t score until the top of the fifth when Noah Metzger ripped a long leadoff double down the third-base line. Jacob Campbell followed, driving in Metzger with a hard shot down the line, and later scored on Austin Urban’s ground out.
The Crushers added two more in the top of the sixth on Mike Bansek’s single, a sacrifice by Colin Ransom, a walk to Evan Lacey and run-scoring hits by Metzger and Campbell, but Bowes retired the side in the seventh on two strikeouts and a pop fly to short after a walk to Urban to record the save.
“I knew we’d be good in the field,” said Aniol, Columbia’s pitcher, who kept the Crushers off the board through four innings. “We had a good lead and usually when we have a lead, we play well. All I knew was I had to pitch strikes and my fielders would have my back. I went into the top of the second thinking I could work with this lead.”
“That was huge,” said Columbia coach Mike Morgan. “The kids kind of fed off of that defensively for the majority of that game. Jacob for probably the last month has been automatic on the mound. Wherever the gloves been, that’s where the ball ends up.”
Columbia not only competes in Hot Stove but the Cuyahoga Valley League as well.
“This week was kind of tough, playing four games,” Morgan said. “Pretty much all season long, we tried our best to stay focused during practices. The competition has been invaluable.”
Included among other local winners was Wellington Advance Construction. It won its bracket by knocking out Medina Swarm 7-5 behind three hits by Chandler Polen and two from Jayson Weese. In the other Class I bracket, Medina’s Monsters derailed Ridgeville’s Auto-Rama Twins, 14-12. Ben Chinchar tripled for North Ridgeville but Drew Rohlen doubled, tripled and homered for the Monsters.
North OImsted’s Zackary Hoyt had four hits, including a home run, in leading his team past North Ridgeville Richards Drywall in Class HH play. Xavier Balson and Joey Wengstrom each had two hits, while Jared Kelley tripled for the winning team.
The Grafton Gladiators fell to Buckeye Kaleen Kia 7-3 in the Class H final. Grafton scored all its runs in the first inning thanks to hits by Hunter Cahl, Dominik Birth and Graham Sim. Buckeye trailed 3-2 until scoring three runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
Keystone Houston routed Medina Swarm in Division GG. Nathan Archer not only pitched for Keystone but had a pair of hits, as did Hudson Hall. Rocky Houston tripled for Keystone.
In Class G, South Amherst-Firelands Storm got past Buckeye GPM, 9-6. Grant Price had two hits for Firelands, while Sean Perry, Aidan Newman, Braydan Wyllbond and John Willis also contributed hits. Logan Howington was the winning pitcher.
South Amherst-Firelands also won in Class FF by eliminating Coventry, 6-5. Blake Ruffner had a triple and a double. Lacey Adam picked up the pitching win.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday’s Results (Winners to Next Week’s State Tournament in Alliance):
Class I: Medina Monsters 14, North Ridgeville Auto-Rama Twins 12
Class I: Wellington Advanced Construction 8, Medina Swarm 5
Class HH: North Olmsted MK Auto 14, No. Ridgeville Richards Drywall 2
Class H: Buckeye Kaleen Kia 7, Grafton Gladiators 3
Class GG: Keystone Houston 11, Medina Swarm 1
Class G: Firelands Storm 9, Buckeye GPM 6
Class FF: Medina Rangers 6, Medina Sharks 2
Class FF: South Amherst-Firelands 6, Coventry 5
Class F: Columbia Morgan Truck 5, South Amherst-Firelands Crushers 4
Class E: Southeast Pirates 6, North Akron Padres 3