Shawnee started the day cleaning up some unfinished business and then took care of business later that day in the District 5 ACME district tournament at Lima Central Catholic Saturday.
Due to darkness, Shawnee resumed a game against Van Wert in the final inning and finished off the Cougars, 6-5, with three quick outs and then came back later in the afternoon to fend off a determined Elida team 9-7 to advance to the championship game at 6 p.m. Monday. The winner of Monday’s game moves onto the state tournament in Defiance.
With the loss, Elida fell to the consolation bracket and will face Van Wert at 1 p.m.today. Van Wert, after falling to Shawnee, came back to beat Crestview 7-3 to eliminate the Knights.
If the Bulldogs expect to advance Elida will have to eliminate errors that helped Shawnee outlast Elida. For the game, the Bulldogs committed five errors and many with runners on base that led to several Shawnee runs.
“We just battled,” said Shawnee head coach Jim Brown said. “All the kids are prepared and ready to play. We have kids who can ball in play in almost every at bat. I like to hit and run. We got thrown out at second a couple of times but that happened with players on base and they threw the ball around a little bit. That is our baseball style.”
Credit Shawnee for putting the ball in play and forcing Elida to make the defensive play. For the game, the Indians lashed out 11 hits and scored in all but two innings of the game.
“We had a lot of errors and I don’t know how many walks we had but I think there was a bunch,” Elida head coach Jared Blymyer said. “You can’t give freebies and good teams will make you play and that is what Shawnee did today.
Elida jumped out to an early 3-1 lead after the first inning but Shawnee would tie the score in the top of the second with two runs of their own and then the Indians took a one-run lead in the third when Shawnee scratched out a run.
Shawnee appeared to take control of the game with three more runs in the fifth highlighted by consecutive hits from Kale Ebling, Garrett Shaw, Jarin Bertke and Jake Cowan.
However, Elida rallied for four runs in the bottom of the fifth to knot the score at 7-7 going into the final two frames.
But the tie did not last long with Shawnee, helped by back-to-back doubles from A.J. Brown and Ebling that also drove in Justin Benke who got on base prior with a one-out single.
Brown, who relieved Shawnee starter Dalton Miller after the fifth, closed the door on Elida by throwing two scoreless innings. In his two frames, Brown walked one and gave up a single hit.
Although Miller was tagged for seven runs, he put in an admirable performance on a sweltering hot day. After giving up three runs in the first, he would through three scoreless innings before being knocked around in the fifth. At this point in the game, Miller, who had thrown 118 pitches when he was taken out of the game, gave up six hits while striking out five.
“Right there in the middle he (Miller) was solid,” Brown said. “Dalton had a nice freaking day on the mound.”
For Elida, Luke Berger wielded a big bat after going 3-for-4 with a double and four RBI. Berger’s long fly ball in the seventh fell just short of clearing the fence and tying the game.
Blymyer said he expects his team will bounce back.
“We are fairly deep pitching wise so we feel we can claw our way through,” Blymyer said. “Again it comes down to playing better baseball.”