FOSTORIA – A little bit of water went a long way in helping Columbus Grove down Hardin Northern, 6-2, in the Division IV district semifinal game Tuesday.
Columbus Grove (18-2) advances to the district finals Friday against the winner of the Carey/North Baltimore game that will be played today. Hardin Northern ends its season with a 16-8 mark.
Owning a 3-0 lead after two Columbus Grove pitcher Teyah Sautter, who cruised through the first two innings, found herself in some trouble in the top of the third when Polar Bear Holly Wilson smashed a solo shot to left field.
Looking to gain momentum, the Polar Bears added another run when they got a clutch single from Naylie Pees to bring home Shelby Alloway cut the lead to 3-2.
After the big third inning, the Polar Bears were looking to build on that momentum and it appeared they would get a chance when the heat apparently got to Sautter as she looked lightheaded after throwing a pitch. Columbus Grove head coach Travis Gallmeier noticed she was woozy and brought some water to the mound to replenish Sautter.
The refreshed Columbus Grove right-hander would then proceed to toss one-hit shutout ball the final four frames to secure the victory. For the game, Sautter surrendered five hits, two walks and three runs while striking out seven in seven innings of work. Three of those strikeouts ended innings.
“I thought she had passed out,” Gallmeier said. “She made that one pitch and she kind of went down a little bit and said ‘I don’t feel good.’ So I checked on her….This was the hottest game we played in all year so Thursday we are going to have make sure the girls hydrate heavily.”
Hardin Northern head coach Jessica Mast said her team has been producing offensively in the final weeks of the season but added that her team might have been a tad nervous coming into the district semifinals.
“We’ve really come alive in the last two weeks but tonight, and I really don’t know if was the atmosphere, but being in this situation where we haven’t been the last two years I think they were just tense and they knew Columbus Grove was a good team.”
The early game jitters also led to some fielding mistakes that would lead to Columbus Grove grabbing a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Bulldog Danielle Bame and Lauren Birkemeier opened the game with back-to-back singles and then advanced a base after a double steal. Both runners came home when Sautter lined one to first, however, looking to make a play Polar Bear first baseman Wilson attempted to double off Bame at third but the ball sailed high and both Bulldogs came home to score.
Columbus Groves’ rightfielder made it 3-0 in the second when she crushed a shot over the fence.
In the fifth inning, the Bulldogs collected four hits thanks to two errors, a double and a single. Grace Schroeder delivered the double and Jenny Ellerbrock came through with the key two out single to plate two more Bulldogs.
“I thought Schroeder’s was out,” Travis Gallmeier said. “She hit the snot out of that one and we had speed on first and two outs and running on contact. That was a big spot there. Jenny is our other senior and that is a big hit in a big spot.”
Alloway, who went the distance for Hardin Northern, yielded seven hits, three earned runs and one walk. She struck out one.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468 or on twitter at @JoseNogueras1