ALLIANCE — At least three teams from Lorain County will play for Hot Stove state championships today at Butler Rodman Park.
South Amherst Firelands advanced to the Class E final, Sheffield Venom to the Class EE final and Keystone Houston advanced in Class GG.
Nine Lorain County teams competed in state semifinal matchups Saturday with the county going 3-4 overall. Two teams — Class F’s Columbia Morgan Truck and Class HH’s North Olmsted Mk Auto — did not finish their games due to weather.
Columbia will complete its game at 11:30 a.m. and the Class F final will start at 1:30 p.m. The weather did push two finals — Class G and Class HH — into Monday at 7 p.m. North Olmsted will play its Class HH semifinal at 4:30 p.m. today.
The rest of today’s schedule was not affected.
The county was guaranteed one state finalist in Class EE as Sheffield defeated Midview Cavanaugh Electric 10-0 in five innings.
All six of the Venom’s fifth-inning runs were scored without a hit — three were scored on walks, one on an error and two on wild pitches.
“We had to fight our way through the losers bracket to get here, but we got here,” said Sheffield coach Mark Racz, whose Venom will face the Brimfield Redbirds in the final at noon. “We’ve got some patient kids, they’re good hitters and our defense is always solid.”
Keystone’s victory was arguably the wildest of the day as it prevailed 22-13 over Promos Unlimited. It led 6-0 after four, but Promos to took the lead with nine runs in the top half of the fifth.
Keystone, however, wasn’t phased. It went to work and responded with 11 runs in the bottom half. With one out and Keystone trailing by one, Nathan Archer sent a liner into left field to tie the game.
“I just had to get a hit and put the ball in play,” Archer said. “That’s all I was thinking about. We tried our hardest and we played like we always do.”
Two batters later with the bases loaded, Nick Millsop drove in two runs with a shot up the middle for what was ultimately the game-winning hit.
“I had two strikes on me and I was feeling pressure, but I just loaded up and swung the bat and got a hit,” Millsop said. “And I was so happy.”
Keystone Houston will try to cap its perfect season with its 30th win against Rootstown at 12:30 p.m.
“We haven’t given up more than seven runs the entire year,” Keystone coach Rocky Houston said. “But these kids have had several games where things don’t go their way and we have to come back. These kids are unbelievable. They don’t put too much pressure on themselves.”
Firelands was well-represented in the semifinals with three teams competing, however only one is still alive. The Class E Firelands squad defeated Southeast Palmyra 3-1, scoring all of its runs in the first inning — highlighted by Josh Buchanan’s two-RBI shot. He also threw a complete-game victory with two strikeouts.
Firelands didn’t score again, but thanks to its stout defense neither did Palmyra until the seventh. Firelands ended the game on a wild double play, a routine grounder to third base for an out at first, but then the first baseman rifled it back to third when the runner tried to advance to third.
“I was really impressed with the defense today,” said Firelands catcher Tristan Clark, who picked off two runners. “They kept their focus and they kept everything in front of them. I’m really proud of them. You couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Today’s Class E final at 3 p.m. could have been an all Lorain County final, but North Ridgeville couldn’t get past the Southeast Pirates, who prevailed 4-1 after about a 30-minute lightning delay. North Ridgeville took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when Patrick Anderson smoked a pitch to the left-field fence. However, he was picked off trying to stretch his RBI double into a triple.
But the Pirates came right back with two in the second and added two more in the bottom of the fifth on hits that took some wild bounces in the infield after the rain delay. North Ridgeville couldn’t figure out Southeast’s starter, Josh Lock, who tossed a complete-game gem with four walks, five hits and eight strikeouts.
“We had a couple of errors that cost us, but it’s been a great four years with these kids and I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of kids,” North Ridgeville coach Gary Brown said. “But you have to take your hats off to them because they made no mistakes and their pitcher pitched a great game.”
The other two Firelands teams fell in their respective divisions. South Amherst Firelands lost to Plain Local 8-2 in Class FF and the Class G Firelands Storm fell 10-0 to Mogadore in five innings.
The Class FF squad took a 1-0 lead against Plain Local, but Local took advantage of some miscues in the outfield to score twice in the bottom of the first. It stretched its lead to 4-1 in the fourth and never lost the momentum.
“Their pitching was pretty strong, but what I saw was our kids were just a little off,” Firelands coach John Mullins said. “We’ve been solid all year, and now we just have one more step: to come back and win. Overall it’s been a great successful season.”
Wellington Advance Construction fell to Rootstown 16-11 in the first Class I state tournament — for 8-year-olds.
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.