STRONGSVILLE - When you`re facing the state`s top-ranked Division I team - which won a state title just three years ago - you`re probably going to be an underdog.
And when you have a 5-14 record compared to your opponent`s 20-3 mark, you`re going to be a major underdog.
But despite all that, Admiral King was actually competitive Friday afternoon before losing to No. 1 Strongsville 7-0 in a Division I sectional championship game.
Strongsville (21-3) will host Elyria High next Thursday at
2 p.m. in a district semifinal.
Admiral King sophomore left-hander Andrew Coon allowed only eight hits to the powerful Mustangs. Strongsville`s biggest inning netted only three runs.
"I`m proud of our guys," King coach John Akosi said. "Everybody thought we`d be blown away today. But as it turned out, if we could have just made a few plays at crucial moments, the score would have been much closer."
Adding to the odds against King was Strongsville`s 6-foot-8 pitching ace, Justin Jamison, who is going to Ohio State on a baseball scholarship if he isn`t drafted by a major league team.
Jamison was tough, as expected, shutting down 12 of the first 13 batters he faced, with nine strikeouts and one walk. A walk to the Admirals` Andy Dito in the second inning was nullified by a double-play ball hit by the next batter.
JamisonÂ gave up his first two hits, back-to-back singles by Dito and Jeff Fraley, in the fifth inning. That was King`s biggest threat, but the next two batters flied out to end the inning.
"He was great, of course," Akosi said of Jamison, who is now 6-0 for the season.Â "But we got the bat on the ball a lot of times and didn`t strike out that much more than our average, which is seven a game, Still, Strongsville is by far the best team we`ve faced all year."
King had two of the best fielding plays of the game. In the first inning, left fielder Chad Hall made a diving, shoestring catch of a line drive by Nathan Langhals. Then in the second, center fielder Luis Mendez made a similar shoestring sliding catch of Brent Castro`s shot.
"We have some speedsters out there who can get to the ball," Akosi said. "With only three seniors leaving, my guys are going to build from this."
Strongsville scored its first run in the second on a hit batter, a single and a bloop single to right. The Mustangs added two in the third, helped by a King error, a double by Kellen Pagel (son of former Browns quarterback Mike Pagel), and two sacrifice flies.
The game`s biggest hit was a triple by Langhals in the sixth, driving in a run.
"He was pretty effective," Strongsville coach Josh Sorge said of Jamison. "He threw a lot of strikes. Probably the most impressive was the way he handled that little trouble he was in in the fifth. He kept his composure."
"My curve was really working well, especially in the later innings," Jamison said. "Early in the game, I went after them with my fastball. When I got in a little trouble in the fifth, I knew I`d get out of it. I just had to settle down and focus. That`s what happened."
Contact Jerry Rombach at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.