HAMLER — It was a back and forth game for six innings, but when it got away from Lima Central Catholic in the seventh inning it wasn’t coming back.
Hicksville scored four times in the top of the seventh inning to take an 8-4 win over LCC in a semifinal of the Division IV baseball regional at Patrick Henry High School on Thursday.
Hicksville (19-5) will play Plymouth today for a trip to the state baseball tournament. LCC finished its season 17-8.
The Thunderbirds fell behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning, came back to take a 3-2 lead, fell behind again but had the game tied 4-4 going into the final inning.
“This was exactly the kind of game I expected,” LCC coach John Schnieders said. “We gave ourselves a lot of opportunities, we just didn’t convert as many as they did. We’d fall behind, we’d get back and then they’d come through.
“We didn’t have any easy innings. Whoever lost this game was going to go back and look at this opportunity, this bounce, this play. At the end of the day they made a few more plays,” he said.
In the seventh inning, Hicksville loaded the bases on a walk, a hit batter and an infield single. No. 9 hitter Jonah Gipple blooped a single to left field to give the Aces a 5-4 lead. Then a single by Parker Thiel, combined with an outfield error, brought in three more runs.
Hicksville got its two runs in the first inning when Lukas Yoder reached base on an error, Jake Greer walked, they moved up on an infield grounder and scored on a single by clean-up hitter Eric Chapman.
LCC got one run back on a home run by Derek Jennings in the bottom of the first inning. It tied the game in the bottom of the second when Brendan Stolly singled, stole second base, moved up on a wild pitch and scored when Nevin Stolly beat the throw to first base on an attempted double play.
In the fourth inning, the Thunderbirds took their only lead of the game when Matthew Heider led off with a triple and Sam Santaguida singled to score him. Hicksville scored runs in the fifth and sixth innings to go up 4-3 before LCC tied it in the bottom of the sixth inning when Jennings walked, went all the way to third base on a wild pickoff throw and scored on a single by Santaguida.
Hicksville got six innings from its starting pitcher, Greer, before Thiel came on to get the final three outs in the seventh inning. LCC used three pitchers — starter Dru Smith went 3 1/3 innings, Brendan Stolly followed him for three innings and Jennings pitched 2/3 of an inning.
“I was proud of them in that seventh inning. It was pretty much the middle and bottom of our lineup that did the damage and then we got it around to the top of the lineup and Parker (Thiel) got the big hit,” Hicksville coach Tim Shock said.
Shock said Greer was not as consistent on the mound as usual but still got the job done. “He still had the velocity but just wasn’t spotting his pitches. He was kind of all over the play. He was effectively wild, if you want to call it that. But we’ll take it,” he said.
Looking back at the season, Schnieders said, “Beyond today I am so proud of this group for the improvement we made from the beginning of March when we first started to today individually and collectively. They represented the best of what LCC stands for.”