Lima Central Catholic’s Jaylen Roehm came through on the mound and at the plate to help the Thunderbirds edge Bluffton, 1-0, and capture the Division IV sectional title Thursday.
The Thunderbirds will face Columbus Grove at Elida in the district semifinal at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
Engaged in a pitching duel against Pirate hurler Hannah Davis, Roehm scattered five hits over seven innings while fanning 11 and walking one. She also had a hit bats man, Taking the hard luck loss was Davis who went six innings, surrendered four hits and struck out four.
“The defense played well behind her,” LCC head coach Brett Roehm said. “I don’t know how many batters she fell behind but it wasn’t many. She threw well. Credit to the defense and Mary Kate (Dee) called a great game behind the plate, It’s tournament time so you don’t know what is going to happen so we will take an outing like that every day of the week.
Roehm added that it was all about location for the junior hurler.
“She moved the ball around and changed speeds and have confidence and that was a lot of it,” Brett Roehm said. “Hat’s off to Jaylen and Mary Kate. They both did a whale of a job tonight. Mary Kate called a great game and Jay hit the spots and kept them off balance and threw hard enough to get it by them.”
Coming into the game, Bluffton had back-to-back games where they had 10 hits or more but had trouble handling Roehm’s pitching.
“We have been like this all year,” Bluffton head coach Jon Inniger said. “We go with games where we go 10 or 12 hits and the next game we can’t get one but she (Roehm) pitched a nice game and they played good defense. It was a tough one to lose.
“I am proud of the girls. We started out rough and had a few people on COVID and got up in the tracing. But we kept getting better and playing super the last two games we had 10 hits or more so I thought that would continue and it didn’t happen. Grace is awesome. She is a senior and worked her tail off all summer long and she came a long way in a year and I am really proud of her.”
The junior righty also got a little help from her defense in getting the shutout. The Pirates put runners in scoring position in three of the last four frames including having two runners on in the seventh.
Bluffton’s best chance to score came in the third when Grace Myers, who had singled earlier in the was on second with two outs when Sophie Bricker ripped a single to right field. LCC outfielder Maddie Knotts quickly threw to Roehm who then relayed to Dee to cut down pinch runner Addie Businger at the plate.
LCC, which also had trouble scoring, finally got the lone run of the game in the fifth. Senior Zaria Keys led the inning off with a seeing-eye single and was sacrificed to second on a bunt from Knotts. A fly followed to give the Thunderbirds two outs but Roehn then roped a triple to bring Keys home to what would turn out to be the difference in the game.
“We drive the run in there with that triple and she (Jaylen Roehm) turns around when she gets to third base and she looks at me and said ‘dad you have to stop me a little bit sooner’ and I said if the ball wasn’t picked up I was going to send you because everyone at this point was going to be pretty valuable ” Brett Roehm said. “Hat’s off to Bluffton. Their pitcher pitcher threw a whale off a ball game and it is a shame that somebody has to lose that game. They competed right until the end and had runners on and had a chance.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.