DEFIANCE — Ottoville had a quick glance of the plate in the first inning.
But Lima Central Catholic center fielder Brendan Stolly turned the Big Green away with a perfect throw from center field to the plate.
From there, LCC lefty Dru Smith was in command in a 4-0 Lima Central Catholic victory over Ottoville in the Division IV baseball district semifinals Wednesday at Defiance High School.
LCC (16-7) advances to the district championship game against Kalida (16-7) at 5 p.m. Friday at Ottawa’s Memorial Park. Ottoville is 10-9.
In the second game of the day, Kalida had no hits on the day, but still managed to edge Patrick Henry 1-0.
Smith went all seven innings and gave up no runs on four hits. He struck out nine and walked none.
“From the third inning on, he (Smith) really found it and got in a groove,” LCC coach John Schnieders said. “That’s the best version of Dru. He had them off-balance and was able to pop that fastball and he was able to overpower them down the stretch.’’
Smith used an 80-81 mph fastball and 62-64 breaking ball to throw 93 pitches, 63 for strikes.
“I felt confident because I was hitting them with the fastball, then I came back with my curveball and they would be off-balance,” Smith said. “I kept the fastball high to them and brought it back with the curveball. That’s my magic right there.’’
LCC ran out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, with help from three Ottoville errors in the inning.
With two outs, Derek Jennings singled and Matt Heider walked.
Brendan Stolly hit an RBI single to right. Heider came home from first on the hit when the ball got past the Ottoville right fielder. That gave LCC a 2-0 lead.
“I battled, got a fastball high and I took it the other way,” Stolly said.
Dominic Riepenhoff reached on an error on the Big Green third baseman. That brought home Stolly and it was 3-0 T-Birds.
Stolly also made a great defensive play in center in the first inning to save a run.
Ottoville’s Andy Schimmoeller singled, was bunted to second. Then, with two outs, Dylan Kemper lined a single to center.
Stolly came up throwing after he gobbled up the single to center and fired a frozen rope to catcher Sammy Santaguida, who slapped the tag on a sliding Schimmoeller at the plate to end the inning.
“It came to me and I knew I was going for (home) and he was rounding third,” Stolly said. “So I threw it to the plate and he was out. It was (one of my best throws).’’
Added Schnieders, “They got a big hit, but anyone who has watched Brendan (Stolly) every day knows he has a cannon from the outfield. And it’s just not that he can throw, he can throw accurately. As soon as it came out of his hand, I said, ‘We got him.’ ’’
For LCC, Shaun Thomas went 2 for 4. Stolly was 2 for 3.
Ottoville’s Dylan Kemper was 2 for 2.
LCC held a 3-0 lead in the fourth when the Big Green loaded the bases with one out.
Smith then switched gears and struck out the next two hitters on high fastballs to escape any damage.
“I was looking to strike them out and throw my fastball and curveball, bear down and get out of the inning,” Smith said.
Added Schnieders, “Dru has been in those situations before. Dru has always been so poised up on the hill and nothing seems to rattle him.’’
LCC pushed its lead to 4-0 in the fifth.
Stolly singled, stole second and came home on a parachute single down the right-field line by Santaguida.
Zane Martin went all six innings for the Big Green. He gave up four runs, two earned, on seven hits. He struck out four and walked three.
Martin threw 101 pitches, 69 for strikes.
Kalida 1, Patrick Henry 0
Patrick Henry right-hander Christian Petersen fired a no-hitter, but lost to Kalida 1-0 in the second district semifinal game of the day.
Petersen used an 85 mph fastball to throw six hitless innings. He gave up one run, earned. He struck out five and walked one.
“We knew we were going to be in a battle today,” Kalida coach Joe Recker said. “He pitched a whale of a ballgame. He no-hit us. I don’t like that feeling, but I like the feeling of the ‘W.’ It’s going to ease that pain a little bit, but my hat’s off to their defense. Both kids could have had no-hitters today.’’
Kalida right-hander Owen Recker’s fastball topped out at 93 mph and it was consistently sitting on 91. In his seven-inning shutout performance, he gave up three hits. Recker struck out nine and walked two.
“The fastball felt good. I could tell I had a little more than usual,” Recker said. “It was humming today. … Today we found a way to get it across. We didn’t get any hit, but we still came out with a win.’’
Recker threw 107 pitches, 68 for strikes.
Kalida scored the only run of the game in the fifth.
Josh Recker was hit by a pitch and went to second on a bunt by Gabe Hovest.
Josh Recker went to third on a wild pitch, then scored on a wild pitch to make it 1-0.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.
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