ELIDA – Shawnee’s ACME baseball team has done it before.
Last season, Shawnee battled back in the losers’ bracket and made it to the State ACME Tournament.
This season, the Indians are looking to do it again.
In Sunday’s district action at Elida’s Ed Sandy Field, Shawnee defeated Lima Central Catholic in the first game, 2-1, in a pitchers duel.
Then in Sunday’s second game, Shawnee’s Zach Peake out-dueled Bath’s Taren Sullivan on the pitching mound, en route to a hard-fought 4-2 victory.
With the win over Bath (11-4), Shawnee (17-4) forced the Wildcats to another game today at 6 p.m. at Elida for the district championship. The winner of today’s game will advance to the state tournament July 20-27 at Coldwater.
Bath entered Sunday’s action with no losses in the double-elimination tournament.
In the first game, Justin Fullom gave Shawnee a strong performance on the mound, working six-plus innings, before giving way to Austin Brachok in the sixth.
Fullom gave up the one run on four hits. He walked just one batter, did not record a strikeout and threw 71 pitches.
Brachok came in and shut the door on LCC, allowing no hits and striking out one.
LCC countered with Trevor Hoff. Hoff allowed just three hits, while striking out three and walking two.
In the second game, against Bath, Peake was in control. He gave up only two hits, while striking out five, walking two and hitting two batters. Up through the first four innings, Peake threw just 54 pitches.
In the sixth, Peake got in to a little bit of trouble, as he hit a hitter and Bath was able to get two runners on base and score two runs. Bath scored its two runs, by way of two wild pitches from Peake.
But, once again, Brachok came in to close it out on the mound for Shawnee.
Sullivan pitched all seven innings for Bath. The tall right-hander found himself working deep into the count for most of the game as he tossed a total of 145 pitches.
However, Shawnee managed just two hits off Sullivan.
“My shoulder was getting a little bit sore and my arm was getting tired,” Peake said. “I thought I could push through. But, my defense bailed me out. My defense was there and without them, I am nothing.”
Shawnee scored a total of three runs off the squeeze play. Trevor Anderson, the No. 3 hitter for the Indians, executed the bunt-squeeze to perfection in both the fifth and seventh innings, producing three of Shawnee’s runs.
“The kids know it (they are expected to be able to bunt),” Shawnee coach Tim Morgan said. “We rely on the majority of the kids to be able to do something like that for us. Sacrificing yourself – that’s part of the game.”
Despite going deep in the count with most of the hitters, Sullivan found ways to get out of jams.
“I told him to let me know (if he was tired),” Bath coach Matt Loudon said. “I wanted to keep him out there as long as he felt like he was good.”
Other than the sixth inning, Peake stayed ahead of most hitters.
“Zach pitched a great game,” Morgan said. “He struggled a little bit there and fought himself out of it. They came back, scored a couple of runs, tied it up and things just worked out our way.”
Shawnee led 2-0 after five innings.
In the bottom of the sixth, Bath scored two runs to knot the game at 2.
In the top of the seventh, Shawnee executed the squeeze play for the second time in the game, as Anderson laid down another perfect bunt to score a run. The final run for Shawnee in the seventh came on a sacrifice-fly by William Kleffner.
Being in the losers’ bracket doesn’t seem to affect the way Shawnee approaches each game.
“No, it doesn’t bother us at all,” Peake said. “Last year, we lost the first game and came all the way back. …We ended up in the state tournament. And we’re going to do the same this year.”
Shawnee-Bath ACME baseball