COLDWATER — Playing back through the losers’ bracket isn’t an easy task.
Once a baseball team loses in a double-elimination tournament, it’s all about surviving each game.
In Friday’s matchup between Shawnee and Coldwater, both teams were fighting for the right to play in today’s state championship game against Defiance, the defending champions.
On Friday, Coldwater jumped out early on Shawnee and its pitching and defense pulled it through, as the Cavaliers defeated Shawnee 6-0 at Veterans Field to advance to today’s championship game. Coldwater (27-5) avenged an opening-round loss in the state tournament to Shawnee. After its loss to the Indians, Coldwater reeled off three-straight victories to get to Friday’s rematch.
Coldwater will face Defiance (21-6) at noon today. Coldwater will have to defeat Defiance in today’s first game to force a second game — to follow the first game — because Defiance is unbeaten in the tournament.
“We lost in the first game against a good Shawnee team and then we had a long way to go to get where we wanted to be,” Coldwater coach Tom Brunswick said. “I know it’s Defiance and I know they’re a good program, but it’s our home field and our kids think they can do it.”
Coldwater received a stellar pitching performance from Derek Thobe, who worked all seven innings.
Thobe scattered five base hits, while striking out six, walking four and hitting a batter. The junior right-hander threw 96 pitches.
Despite working behind on several batters, Thobe pitched himself out of a few jams. For the game, Shawnee (20-6) stranded nine base runners, including leaving the bases loaded in the fourth.
“That’s three straight shutouts for him,” Brunswick said about Thobe. “He worked behind on a few guys tonight, but he made the pitches when he needed to.
“If Shawnee would have scored two or three (runs), then it would have been a whole different ball game. But, we were able to keep the zeros up there and give credit to Derek, and our defense played pretty well.”
Coldwater did not commit an error on the night, while Shawnee had three miscues in the field.
Zach Peake started on the mound for Shawnee. Peake went the distance, giving up seven hits, while striking out one and walking six.
After giving up two runs in the first and two in the second, Peake settled down, allowing just two runs on just three hits, the rest of the way.
“We got two in the first and two in the second. So, giving Derek a four-run lead, has to make it a lot easier for him,” Brunswick said.
Shawnee threatened in the fourth inning. With one out, Trevor Anderson got on with a single. William Kleffner, the next hitter, was hit by a pitch. Then Peake got on with a walk to load the bases.
However, Thobe settled down and retired the next two hitters to get out of the fourth, unscathed.
Shawnee also left two base runners stranded in both the fifth and sixth innings.
“We just didn’t get the hits when we needed them,” Shawnee coach Tim Morgan said. “You can’t strand that many runners, but the kids were trying. Coldwater was on tonight and they played very well.”
Mitch Heyne led Coldwater at the plate, going 2 for 3 with three RBIs.
”Coldwater hit the ball hard. …Give them credit,” Morgan said. “But, these kids never gave up.
“Just seeing these kids out here and watching them grow from the beginning of the season — it’s been something.”