ALLIANCE — The Sheffield Venom stung Brimfield when it counted Sunday.
After its three-run lead was cut to one, Sheffield rattled off five in the fifth and added three in the seventh to secure a Class EE championship at the 2014 Hot Stove state tournament, topping Brimfield 11-5 in the final at Butler Rodman Park.
“We came to hit today,” Sheffield coach Mark Racz said. “We told them we needed to hit all night last night. When we played these guys before we couldn’t touch the ball. We had to hit if we were going to win and these guys just came in and beat the
Of the nine local teams, four reached the finals and they ultimately went 5-7 overall with Sheffield winning the only championship so far. North Olmsted plays for the Class HH championship tonight at 7 o’clock.
Sheffield left seven men on base, but squandered even more opportunities with sloppy baserunning. The Venom lost four runners to baserunning mistakes during the game, three of those came at third base. Despite letting opportunities slip away, the Venom held a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth.
Brimfield looked like it was going to even the score, already plating two thanks to a sacrifice fly from Mason Warner and a grounder up the middle from Logan Huffman. But with a runner on second and two outs, Dudley Taw forced Kendon Tharp to pop out to end the inning.
Taw turned in a strong complete game with seven strikeouts, one walk, six hits and five earned runs.
His performance over the weekend earned him Class EE tournament MVP honors.
“They’re a great team with great hitting,” Taw said. “Everyone was trying to be relaxed and I came out strong, it was perfect for the first few innings. Then I lost control for a bit there, but my team still had confidence in me to pitch my game.”
The Venom struck back in the fifth inning, despite recording the second out on a botched double steal attempt. When Brimfield threw down to second while Kyle Petruzzi stole it, Eric Vraja hesitated while trying to steal home and the throwback caught him in a rundown.
Sheffield’s Kyle Svenson responded by drawing a walk and Taw reached on an error, a routine ground ball to second base that would have ended the inning. Instead Sheffield had bases loaded for its cleanup hitter — Cameron Drew — who made Brimfield pay with a towering shot to the left-center fence and cleared the bases with a double.
“I saw that every batter he was throwing fastballs on the first pitch,” Drew said. “The first thing I got was a fastball and I jumped on it. Luckily it went by the outfielders and cleared the bases. I think we broke their momentum and got it back.”
After Colin Filak reached on an error, Colden Schemmel capped the inning with a triple to deep center that brought home two more.
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.