OTTAWA — Lima Central Catholic freshman Shaun Thomas knew he crushed it.
In fact, he thought it might be going out.
All it did was short hop the left-field fence, which was more than enough.
Thomas’ RBI walk-off double gave LCC a 2-1, nine-inning victory against Kalida in the Division IV baseball district championship Friday at Ottawa Memorial Park.
“It was excitement and amazement,” Thomas said. “It was a great feeling and we get to move on.’’
The game was played in a steady drizzle, but the rain had stopped by the final couple of innings.
With two out in the home ninth, LCC’s Rahsy Moore walked.
Thomas then launched a one-strike pitch well over the left fielder’s head for an RBI double to score Moore from first standing up, just as the ball reached the plate.
“The second pitch was right where I liked it,” Thomas said. “To be honest, I thought it was over (the fence).’’
Thomas was mobbed by his teammates after the game-winning hit.
“We were knocking on the door looking for a big hit all day,” LCC coach John Schnieders said. “Shaun has been our best hitter the last couple of weeks and he got a pitch that was right in his wheelhouse and he didn’t miss it. He just crushed it and Rahsy can run really well.’’
LCC (17-7) advances to the regional semifinals against Hicksville at 5 p.m. next Thursday at Patrick Henry High School. Kalida ends its year 16-8.
LCC went to state in baseball in 2012. The T-Birds’ last regional appearance was in 2013.
The game featured a great pitching battle between LCC lefty Derek Jennings and Kalida right-hander Josh Klausing.
By the end, the game had been handed off to the relievers, LCC’s Brendan Stolly, who notched the win, and Kalida’s Josh Recker.
Both Jennings and Klausing consistently located their fastballs and breaking balls for strikes.
Jennings went 7 1/3 innings and gave up one run, earned, on five hits. He struck out 10 and walked two.
“My curve was working pretty well and I was throwing faster than I usually do,” Jennings said. “The dirt was sticking to my cleats, but they had everything out there to get it out (of my cleats), so I was fine.’’
Jennings threw 110 pitches, 72 for strikes.
“Jennings was on today,” Schnieders said. “He had everything working. He’d been rested and he had some extra pop on that fastball today.’’
Klausing went eight innings before totally eating up his 125-pitch limit. He gave up one run, unearned, on three hits. He struck out nine and walked four.
Klausing threw 125 pitches, 73 for strikes.
“He (Klausing) was outstanding,” Kalida coach Joe Recker said. “He would be an ace on most people’s squads. He’s no slouch. I’d put him up against anyone.
“LCC is a heck of a ballclub. We just couldn’t scratch that extra run over that we needed.’’
LCC took a 1-0 lead in the home second.
Stolly singled, was bunted to second by Sammy Santaguida and came home when Dominic Riepenhoff reached on an error by the Kalida second baseman.
Kalida tied it at 1 in the third.
Zach Von der Embse singled and was bunted over to second by Kevin Hamburg.
Owen Recker’s RBI single to center brought home Von der Embse to tie at 1.
Jennings locked in through the middle innings with his big, nose-diving breaking ball. He retired 14 in a row from the third to the eighth.
Kalida pinch-hitter Ethan Schmenk started the eighth with a bloop single to center. He was bunted over to second by Von der Embse.
When Jennings walked Hamburg, his day was done.
Enter Stolly, who struck out heavy-hitting Owen Recker. Stolly then got Trevor Lambert to ground out to short.
“Their two best hitters were Recker and Lambert and we wanted to show them a different look,” Schnieders said of the change.
Stolly earned the win with 1 2/3 shutout, no-hit innings. He struck out three and walked one.
Owen Recker went 2 for 4 for Kalida. Thomas was 2 for 4 for LCC.
“I like the pressure situations,” Thomas said. “It’s what brings out the character.’’
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0468.
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