ELIDA — Elida pitcher Hayes Burton got the win twice when the Bulldogs beat Celina 7-0 in high school baseball on Saturday.
The senior left-hander threw a four-hit shutout and struck out 10 for the win.
But to get that victory he had to negotiate his way into a different kind of win when he convinced Elida coach Todd Grapner to let him go back to the mound for the seventh inning.
“I really wanted a complete game,” Burton said. “I was at 92 pitches and he was like, ‘I’m going to pull you in the seventh.’ And I said, ‘Let me finish. Come on, man, they’ve only got three hits off me. Just let me finish.’ It was pretty serious. He was trying to pull me out.”
Grapner said his first inclination was to change pitchers for the final inning before Burton presented his case to finish the game. Another factor was how Burton has stepped up as the Bulldogs’ No. 1 pitcher after Michigan recruit Brayden Lybarger was diagnosed during the season as needing Tommy John surgery.
“I wanted to pull him but he wanted that complete game shutout. He has worked so hard for us all year that he deserved it,” Grapner said. “We thought about it. He convinced us that he felt great so we let him finish what he started and he did a great job.
“When Brayden went down Hayes stepped into that role and he has done a great job. He has kept us in every game he started all year,” he said.
Lybarger, whose surgery is scheduled later this month, has returned to play first base. He was one of three Elida hitters, along with Gunnar Kuhn and Brady Kirk, who had two hits Saturday. And he ended the game by tracking down a pop-up in foul territory and running into the Celina dugout at full speed just after making the catch.
“Brayden is such a good athlete. Being able to use him as a first baseman and having his bat back in the lineup has been a boost for us,” Grapner said. “We lost him for about 10 days where he didn’t do anything. I think having him in the lineup has mentally helped the other guys. It was good to see our offense wake up a little bit.”
Elida (10-8, 2-5 Western Buckeye League) took the lead right away with a run in the first inning when Nick Niebel was hit by a pitch, Lybarger singled, Noah Bohman walked and Dylan Marston drew a bases-loaded walk.
The Bulldogs added three more runs in the second inning. Engle walked to start the inning and Kuhn followed with a bunt single. Niebel singled to score Engle and then Lybarger doubled to bring in Kuhn and Niebel. The Bulldogs got a run in the fourth inning when Kuhn walked, stole second and scored from second base on a ground out by Niebel.
Elida’s final two runs came in the fifth inning when Engle and Brady Kirk singled with two out and Kuhn doubled to score both of them.
Celina dropped to 6-15 overall and 1-7 in the WBL with the loss. Three of its four hits came in the first two innings.
“It was probably one of the best games I pitched. The only downside was I think I walked a little bit too many people. But as long as you get a zero in the run column that’s all that really matters,” Burton said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.