ELIDA – Friday afternoon’s Division III Elida Regional final between top-ranked Archbold and second-ranked Coldwater at Ed Sandy Field was as close as expected.
It was so good, the teams needed to go extra innings to decide matters.
The Cavaliers, who rallied with four runs in the top of the seventh to finally take the lead, added the game-winning run in the top of the eighth to grab a 5-4 victory.
“We preached all year to this team about being mentally tough, and we were. We kept battling and finally broke through in the seventh,” Coldwater head coach Brian Harlamert said. “We were seeing him (Archbold left-hander Rigo Ramos) for the second and third time in the lineup, and we finally got going. It was throughout the lineup, every player, every coach. We have a great senior class, and they are such great leaders with their effort and work ethic.”
The Cavaliers (25-6) advance to a 4 p.m. Saturday, June 7, game against Cincinnati Roger Bacon in Akron. Coldwater was the state runner-up last year.
“It was a tough way to lose a game. This is the fourth straight year we were in this game and the fourth straight year we lost,” Archbold head coach Dick Selgo said. “At some pount, these 10 seniors I have will realize what it took to get this far and what they accomplished. There’s nothing you can really say to them right now. It was a great game, and I know every member of the community here watching this game is so proud of them.”
In the top of the eighth, Noah Miller led off with a single to right against third Blue Streak pitcher TJ Rice and Jake Hemmelgarn sacrificed him to second. Cole Frilling got aboard via a throwing error and Miller came in to score for that 5-4 lead.
Coldwater starter Jacob Wenning (seven-plus innings, 6 hits, 5 walks, 4 earned runs, 1 strikeout on 107 pitches, 59 for strikeouts) walked the first batter for Archbold, Mitch Grosjean, in the home half of the eighth and Will Broering came on in relief to retire the side to advance Coldwater.
“Jacob battled and battled today. It was typical of this team’s performance today,” Harlamert said. “We had some hard-hit balls against Ramos today but they ended up starting double plays. As I mentioned, we preached all year about the mental toughness and that’s what won it for us today; we showed it today with our pitching, defense and finally our offense catching on. For example, our senior catcher, Austin (Riethman), caught back-to-back on two warm days. It wasn’t just him; in the eighth, I wasn’t going to stop Noah after the throwing error.”
Coldwater trailed 3-0 entering the top of the seventh against Ramos (6 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts on 98 pitches, 66 for strikes). The first three batters: Miller, Hemmelgarn and Frilling (bunt); singled to load the bases. Broering grounded to third baseman DJ Newman, who tried to tag Hemmelgarn but couldn’t, scoring Miller and keeping the bases loaded. That brought Blue Streak fireballer Jeron Williams to the mound and he promptly hit pinch-hitter Ross Weigel to bring home Hemmelgarn. Jack McKibben singled to left to score Frilling and tie the game but Broering was thrown out by leftfielder Grosjean at home to keep it there.
Austin Riethman walked to reload the bases and bring Rice to the mound. Myles Blasingame (3-for-4) lined a single up the middle to score Weigel and a 4-3 lead. Wenning lined out hard to second baseman Clay Nafziger to start the Blue Streaks’ third double play of the game.
In the home half, with two down, Holden Galvan walked and Kade Kern’s triple to left scored him.
Before the late-game heroics by the Cavaliers, Ramos limited Coldwater to two hits of shutout baseball, walking two.
“Perhaps I left Rigo in too long. He had made it several times through their lineup,” Selgo said. “Then, Jeron didn’t have it today. In the end, though, give Coldwater credit for never giving up and battling the whole way. We had to do it, too, when they rallied but when we did so, they kept rallying. I thought we might have some momentum when we got the run in the seventh. That’s a credit to their program and players.”
Archbold got a run in the bottom of the second inning on a leadoff walk to Cory Erbskorn, a sacrifice bunt by Travis Ziegler and a single to left by Grojean for a 1-0 lead.
Archbold made it 3-0 in the home third. Williams beat out an infield hit to the hole at short, Holden Garvan sacrificed and Kade Kerns (2-for-4) doubled to the left-field corner to put runners at second and third. With Erbskorn facing a 1-1 count, he attempted to lay down a squeeze bunt but missed. In the rundown at third, a throwing error was made, allowing Williams to make it 2-0 and putting Kern at third, from where he scored on Ziegler’s shot to right for a 3-0 lead.
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