LIMA — When it happened once, it was huge. When it happened again, it was the game.
Lima Central Catholic threw two runners out at the plate to hold off Ottawa-Glandorf 3-1 in the Division III baseball district semifinals Thursday at the University of Northwestern Ohio.
Backed by several strong defensive plays, LCC right-hander Colin Stolly tossed a complete-game seven-hitter. He gave up one earned run, walked two and struck out five. Stolly spotted his fastball and threw 95 pitches, 65 for strikes.
“I didn’t know if it (the breaking ball) was going to work that well today, and with the wind behind me, it added a little bit onto my fastball,” Stolly said.
LCC (18-12) will meet Bath (16-12) in the district title game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at UNOH. O-G ends its season 16-5.
LCC scored one run in the home fourth and two more in the fifth to take a 3-0 lead. O-G got within 3-1 in the sixth.
The game came down to two big defensive plays by the T-Birds.
In the fourth inning, the game was still scoreless when O-G had Cody Bockrath at third with two out. Drew Schierloh hit a low liner to third that nicked off the glove of third baseman Ethan O’Connor and rolled back behind deep short. LCC shortstop Nick Watkins backed the play up, picked up the ball and fired a strike to catcher Brad Stolly, who slapped the tag on Bockrath to end the inning.
Then, with LCC leading 1-0 in the fifth, O-G was threatening again. The Titans had runners at first and second with two out when Brad Croy hit a line-drive single to left. Tyson Yungmann, who was on second, rounded third and turned for home. LCC left fielder Jacob Judy charged the single and threw the ball home. Brad Stolly easily put the tag on Yungmann and he was out by several feet.
“I thought those were the two key plays of the game,” LCC coach John Schnieders said. “The first one was Nick Watkins not quiting on the play. He understood the situation, went and barehanded it and made a perfect throw to the plate and Brad made a nice tag.
“The second one, the outfielders train for that throw all the time in practice, but how rare is it to get it in a game? For sophomore Jacob Judy to make that play. Again, huge.”
Judy said, “Once I fielded it cleanly, I knew I was going to throw him out. Yes, I was (surprised he went).”
Stolly used primarily his fastball and moved it around. In the later innings, he spiced in some breaking balls and change-ups. He lived around the plate, with 19 first-pitch strikes, compared to 11 first-pitch balls.
When O-G did hit the ball hard, LCC center fielder Sam Huffman was usually there to run it down in the alley. He also had a big diving grab off the bat of Bockrath in the second.
O-G starter Jaylen Von Sossan went the distance for the Titans and gave up three runs, one earned, on six hits. He struck out three and walked two. Von Sossan threw 103 pitches, 62 for strikes.
For O-G, Brad Croy went 2 for 4, while Tyler Zender was 2 for 4. For LCC, Connor Dee and Corey O’Dowd were both 2 for 3.