ELIDA — Starting the district tournament three games under .500 isn’t exactly the ideal situation for any baseball team.
But don’t tell the Crestview ACME team that.
Crestview came into this year’s District 5 ACME Tournament with a losing record.
However, Crestview came away with the district championship Tuesday at Elida’s Dick Prince Field, defeating Elida 8-5, and earning a berth in this coming weekend’s ACME State Tournament at Shawnee. The state tournament runs July 15-17 and is a single-elimination format.
With the victory, Crestview (9-9) will take on District 1 winner Defiance at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Shawnee. Defiance defeated Bryan 9-5 on Tuesday night.
A five-run first inning for Crestview helped pave the way for Tuesday’s win over Elida.
After Elida (15-6) scored a run in the top of the first on an RBI double by Jordan Davis, Crestview responded in the bottom of the first, scoring five runs on just three base hits. Elida starting pitcher Justin Moore walked two batters and hit two in the first frame.
“We’re 9-9 now, overall, and we’re moving on,” Crestview coach Jeff Helm said. “I can’t stress enough about our pitching. The starters, the job they’ve done in all three games over here, getting us deep into the game and not having to go deep into our bullpen.”
Crestview starting pitcher Kole Small worked six-plus innings before giving way to Riley Saylor in the seventh and final inning. Small was tabbed with three runs on seven hits, while striking out three and walking five. Small threw 114 pitches on the day.
For Elida, Moore worked four innings before being lifted. Moore gave up eight runs on eight hits, while striking out one, walking two and hitting two. Moore tossed 86 pitches. In the fifth, T.J. Whipple came over from his third-base position and took over pitching duties. Whipple closed out the game, striking out two and walking two.
After pushing out to a 5-2 lead after the first, Crestview added one run in the bottom of the second, thanks to a wild pitch by Moore. Caden Hurless (2-for-3), who led off with a single, eventually got to third on a sacrifice and then came in to score on the wild pitch.
Elida scored a run in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to 6-3. Brayden Lybarger, who led off the inning with a single, eventually came around to score on a throwing error, then a passed ball.
Crestview responded in the bottom of the fourth, scoring two runs on three hits, extending its lead to 8-3. Brett Schumm had the big hit, a triple that drove in both Hicks and Derek Stout. Hicks had a single, while Stout belted a double to set the table for Schumm.
Elida added two more runs in the top of the seventh to close out the scoring.
“It was great the way the kids bounced back after the top of the first, coming back with five runs in the bottom of the first,” Helm said. “I think that kind of broke the ice for us. We just settled down, relaxed and played fundamental baseball from there on out. We didn’t have any huge mistakes that were costly. We got into a few jams here and there, but Kole Small was able to get out of them, and Riley (Saylor) coming in there and limiting the damage in the last half inning was huge.”
There were several missed opportunities for Elida. For the game, Elida left a total of eight base runners stranded. Crestview left five base runners on.
“We were playing catch-up there,” Elida coach Jared Blymyer said. “We’ve come back the last five games that we’ve won, I think. But that will finally catch up and bite you. But, this has been a good summer. They’ve learned a lot. They’ve had a lot of fun. It’s hard to end it this way, obviously, being so close to making it to state. But, it was a good summer.”
For Crestview, it hasn’t been a smooth path to the state tournament.
“It was a work in progress,” Helm said. “Early on, we lost a couple one-run games during the season to a very good Lincolnview team. We lost a one-run game to a very good Van Wert team. We lost to a very good St. Henry team. We’ve lost some tough ones, and our record is better than it indicated, coming into the tournament.
“I’m very, very pleased and happy for the kids. I’m happy that they can keep playing. It’s a good thing to be playing here in the middle of July. They’ve continued to grind it out and believe in each other. It’s a credit to them.”
HAMLER — Archbold defeated Ottawa-Glandorf 5-1 to earn a spot at the state tournament, where it will play Anthony Wayne at 5 p.m. Saturday at Shawnee.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-o468.