COLDWATER — Sometimes a baseball can take a funny bounce.
In Saturday’s ACME state championship game between Coldwater and Defiance, the ball seemed to find its way into nearly every nook and cranny at Veterans Field.
After the dust settled — 11 errors and 30 base hits later — Defiance was hoisting the state championship trophy for the second year in a row as Defiance had defeated Coldwater 17-11, in a game full of hits and miscues in the field. Defiance also won the Division II state title this past spring.
On Saturday, Defiance (22-6) pounded 18 hits and committed four errors. Coldwater recorded 12 hits and booted the ball around seven times on the day.
After Coldwater (27-6) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, Defiance responded by scoring five runs in the second, two in the third and four runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to take a commanding 15-4 lead.
However, Coldwater exploded for seven runs in the home half of the fifth to cut the deficit to 15-11.
The Bulldogs added a run in both the sixth and seventh innings to round out the scoring.
“I knew they were going to come out with a lot of energy, and I knew they were going to make a push there at the end,” Defiance coach Bryn Lehman said. “But, our guys did a tremendous job of weathering that and taking care of business.”
“That wasn’t the way we wanted to start, whatsoever. But the guys did a tremendous job of bouncing back, as they’ve done all summer. We were just fortunate enough to get back into the game.”
Austin Hancock led the Defiance offensive attack with four hits. Hancock also was named the ACME State Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Jimmy Bauer and Adam Schaffer each had three hits. Dom Gentile, Derek Turner and Wes Detter all had two hits for the Bulldogs.
For Coldwater, Mitch Heyne, Brody Hoying and Mitch Schoenherr each recorded two hits.
Hancock also came in from his shortstop position in the sixth to take over the pitching duties.
“This was a big win,” Hancock said. “The year before, we won the state ACME championship. Then, to come into this year and win another one, it feels great. It’s like a dream come true.”
Greg Gilliland started on the mound for Coldwater. Gilliland pitched just 1 1/3 inning before being lifted. The junior right-hander gave up five runs on just one hit, while walking three.
Grant Muhlenkamp came in to pitch for the Cavaliers in the second. Muhlenkamp went 2 2/3 innings. Muhlenkamp was tabbed for six runs on 10 hits.
Brandon Kunk worked the final two innings for Coldwater. Kunk gave up six runs on seven hits.
“It was a wacky game,” Coldwater coach Tom Brunswick said. “We got off to a great start, getting four runs in the first. We had five straight hits and kind of set the tone for the game. We thought if we could score four, five or maybe six runs against Defiance, that maybe we could beat them. But, today was not a normal day.”
Shay Smiddy got the starting nod for Defiance. Smiddy went 5 1/3 innings. He was tabbed for nine runs on 11 hits.
Ty Gutierrez came in to pitch in the sixth for the Bulldogs. Gutierrez did not last long, as he gave up two runs in less than a third of an inning.
Hancock came in to pitch in the sixth and closed it out for Defiance.
Between spring baseball and summer baseball this year, Defiance has reeled off more than 50 victories.
“It’s pretty impressive,” Lehman said. “I think the guys are taking a lot of pride in how well they’ve been performing lately. I think they’re excited to get out there next spring and continue to perform the way they have been.”