OBERLIN — Mission accomplished.
Five Lorain County Hot Stove teams, including two from Wellington, can make that statement after they won regional championships on the diamonds off West Hamilton Street on Sunday.
With their wins, the five teams advance to Saturday’s state semifinal games at Butler-Rodman Park in Alliance. One Lorain County team advanced in Classes H, G and F. Two Lorain County teams advanced in Class EE but are bracketed away from each other, so they could meet for the state championship.
The Wellington Reapers, normally a high-scoring team, struggled their way to a 2-1 win over Columbia Red Wagon in a Class EE-2 title game.
Ty Hall singled home Steve Simonson with what proved to be the winning run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Simonson had walked to lead off the inning, stole second and advanced to third on a fielder’s choice.
“Our boys have worked hard to get this championship,” said Reapers (22-2) manager Kevin Phillips. “They’ve been together for the last six years. Former manager Dave Sumpter and former coach Ken Dumke put things together for us. I’ve just nudged things along. This win was a team effort with very good pitching and solid defense.”
Nate Joppeck went the distance, allowing just three hits as he won his ninth game in as many decisions this season.
“I knew that I had to go out there and throw strikes,” said Joppeck. “I was able to locate my fastball and keep Columbia’s batters off balance. I also made them put the ball in play, where my teammates made the defensive plays. I couldn’t do anything without those plays.”
Aaron Grimmett had a single and a double to lead the Reapers hitters.
“The key to this game came down to our making some errors at the wrong times,” said Red Wagon (18-5) manager Dan Koncos. “Other than that, we played well. Matt Popiel had two singles and played well defensively for us.”
Vermilion Aramys earned its third trip to Alliance in the last four years with a 9-4 win over Grafton Milano Monuments in the Class EE-1 regional championship game. Manager Dwayne Jarrell’s boys were state runners-up in Class G in 2004 and lost 3-2 in a state semifinal last year to the eventual state champions.
“We got an early lead and stayed with it,” said Jarrell. “We knew that Grafton, especially with Nick Clark pitching, would make things interesting.
“I think our experience in big games paid off. I tell our boys not to panic. We hit the ball hard and did well against a well-coached team. All that we do as a team is in honor of my infant son, who tragically died at the age of just 7 months in 1999.”
Chad Hall of Aramys (20-2) hit the game’s only home run. Don Greenleaf had three singles and two RBIs, while Stefan Taylor contributed two singles and two RBIs. Tyler Koch had a double and a single, and Wesley White had a pair of singles. Anthony LaBondano added a double, while Christian Gulish went the distance on the mound.
“We got behind in the early going,” said Grafton (17-5) manager Jim Clark. “It’s a shame that we couldn’t take back that phase of the game.”
Manager Jim Helton’s Firelands Scorpions certainly accomplished their season-long goal of earning a ticket to the state Final Four.
The Scorpions (26-1) advanced to the Stark County complex with a 10-0 victory in five innings over Belden Amish Swings in the Class G title game.
Winning pitcher Brett Helton, the manager’s son, led the offense with a home run and a pair of doubles. Chris DeWitt had two singles.
“We hope to represent Lorain County as best as we can,” said Jim Helton. “We’ve played every game this season as if it’s a championship game. We’ve practiced for four hours each day that we didn’t have a game to play.”
“I’m really glad that we’re going to the state tournament,” said Brett Helton, who combined with reliever Austin Miller for five strikeouts. “I think that we have what it takes to win a state championship. Our catcher, Garrett Monhollen, is a very good defensive player.”
North Ridgeville’s Rockers scored an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning en route to a 2-0 victory over the Medina Yellow Jackets in the Class H regional championship game. Chad Kisel doubled home Matt Hall with an insurance run in the seventh inning after Hall had stroked a one-out double.
The Yellow Jackets had runners on second and third with two out in the bottom of the inning before Rockers first baseman Chad Hall snared a line drive to ensure North Ridgeville’s (25-3) trip to Alliance.
“Chad Hall, center fielder David Dowell and right fielder Dante Redwood made some great defensive plays,” said Rockers manager Will Dowell. “We haven’t done that well in the outfield most of the season. It’s been an Achilles’ heel for us.
“We got some clutch hits and solid pitching out of Shane Erny and Matt Hatcher against a good hitting team.”
Erny and Kisel finished with a double and two singles apiece.
Manager Doug Broadwater’s Wellington Hydro Tube team scored five runs in the top of the first inning before settling for a 12-5 win over the Brunswick Wolf Pack in the Class F title game. Brunswick answered Hydro Tube’s early uprising with four runs of its own in the bottom of the inning.
“We knew that they would want to make a game of it,” said Broadwater. “Our boys stayed up and played hard. Everybody hit and we played some good defense.”
A sixth Lorain County team, the Vermilion Zone Express, shut out Marlboro/Lake 8-0 in the Class E-1 Stark regional championship game at Canton South High School to earn a ticket to the Final Four at Alliance.
A second Lorain County Class E team, the South Amherst Gators, lost 10-9 to the Crestwood Lookouts in the Class E-3 Stark regional championship game at Perry High School.
Contact Jerry Henson at 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLASS H (ages 9-10)
North Ridgeville Rockers 2, Medina Yellow Jackets 0
CLASS G (ages 11-12)
Firelands Scorpions 10, Belden Amish Swings 0 (5 innings)
CLASS F (ages 13-14)
Wellington Hydro Tube 12, Brunswick Wolf Pack 5
CLASS EE-1 (ages 15-16)
Vermilion Aramys 9, Grafton Milano Monuments 4
CLASS EE-2 (ages 15-16)
Wellington Reapers 2, Columbia Red Wagon 1
(Lorain County teams only)
CLASS E (ages 15-18)
Vermilion Zone Express 8, Marlboro/Lake 0 (E-1 at Canton South High School)
Crestwood Lookouts 10, South Amherst Gator 9 (E-3 at Perry High School)
SATURDAY’S STATE SEMIFINAL PAIRINGS
at Butler-Rodman Park (Alliance)
(Lorain County teams only)
North Ridgeville Rockers vs. North Akron White Sox, 1:30 p.m. (Diamond 4)
Firelands Scorpions vs. Ellet Yankees, 2:30 p.m. (Diamond 3)
Wellington Hydro Tube vs. Firestone Park Sox, 2 p.m. (Diamond 2)
Wellington Reapers vs. Alliance American Legion, 9 a.m. (Diamond 1)
Vermilion Aramys vs. Kenmore Cardinals, noon (Diamond 1)
Vermilion Zone Express vs. North Akron Nationals, 3 p.m. (Diamond 1)