HAMLER, OHIO – They may have taken completely different routes to get there, but Miller City and Hicksville each found a way to win their Regional Semifinals matchups on Thursday afternoon and setup a winner take all against one another on Friday.
In the first game of the day at Patrick Henry the Aces found themselves deadlocked in an extra innings struggle with the McComb Panthers, but put up three runs in the games 10th inning to move within one step of the State Semifinals next week in Columbus.
Wes Perry for Hicksville and Clay Grubb for McComb were phenomenal in the first 8 innings of the contest as the duo each struck out 14 opposing batters, forced 15 batters to find themselves stranded on base, and gave up just 7 hits.
McComb got the first opportunity of the game to put up a run in the bottom of the first inning, but Dakota LaRue’s bouncer to Aces shortstop Phil Karacson quickly put an end to the first inning.
With the game tied in the 10th inning the Aces finally got a run through against Grubb as an error scored both Karacson and Dakota Harvey to give Hicksville the lead at 2-0 with no outs. Malachai Abbott came in to relieve Grubb, and would give up the games final run moments later before getting the innings final out.
Jordan Skilliter, Andrew Adams, and Cody Franks finished a combined 0-12 in the game and would go down in order to end the 10th inning and the game as the Aces celebrated their 3-0 victory.
Hicksville (18-10) got 10 innings from Wes Perry as he struck out 14 and gave up just 3 hits on the afternoon. Clay Grubb took the loss for McComb (15-9) as he threw 9 innings, struck out 14, gave up 5 hits, 4 walks and a hit batter to go along with a pair of earned runs. Grubb is signed to play his college baseball at Ohio Dominican University.
The first game of the doubleheader at Patrick Henry High School featured a defensive battle, but the second would be an offensive explosion as Miller City downed Toledo Christian 13-7.
Toledo Christian’s offense took to Wildcats hurler Ross Lehman early as the first batter of the game in Eagles shortstop Judd Nearhood was handed a walk. After Nearhood reached third base on a two base throwing error by Lehman who was trying to get the second hitter of the game in Kyle Kempton, he would be gunned down at the plate on a heads up reaction to a ground ball by Miller City Sophomore third baseman Jacob Schimmoeller to keep the game scoreless. Moments later however the Eagles would score the first of their two runs in the inning as Kempton was brought in on a sacrifice fly by Jordan Adesi. Brett Freeman who had singled into the outfield moments later would score on a wild pitch to put the visitors on top 2-0 heading to the bottom of the first inning.
Owen Gast, the right handed starting pitcher for Toledo Christan opened his first inning on the rubber by tossing just nine pitches to send Miller City down in order 1-2-3.
Following the second straight inning that began with a walk to the first hitter in Austin Schoen, the Eagles would go up 3-0 when Schoen scored later in the inning.
Trailing 3-0 in the third inning the Wildcats offense came up with one of two big offensive spurts in the game triggered by a leadoff homerun by the pitcher turned shortstop Ross Lehman to left field that narrowed the gap to 3-1. Jeremy Balbaugh drew one of his three walks in the game out of the nine hole, Jackson Lammers and Hunter Berner each walked, and were driven in on a 2 RBI single by Corbin Niese and a sacrifice fly RBI by Adam Drummelsmith. Adam Niese would add a single in the inning as well, but Jacob Schimmoeller struck out to end the third inning with the home squad up 5-3.
Miller City’s 5-3 lead would last into the top of the 5th inning before Toledo Christian pushed across 3 runs on 3 hits, including a pair of RBI doubles by Brett Freeman and Jordan Adesi that put the Eagles back on top 6-5 after four and a half innings played.
Twice in the game the Wildcats sent 9+ batters to the plate in an inning, with the second of those coming in the bottom of the 5th that saw 10 batters come and go. Having already picked up 3 runs with no outs in the inning to give themselves an 8-6 lead, Miller City added three more runs to their lead as Jackson Lammers belted a ball deep into the outfield for a triple that brought home Lehman, Logan Dukes, and Balbaugh and pushed the Cats lead to 11-5 heading to the 6th.
Toledo Christian would get one back in the 6th inning on a sacrifice fly RBI to right field from catcher CJ Johnson, but no more as they were held in check by Lammers.
Miller City (25-2) added a pair of runs in the 6th inning from Corbin Niese and Drummelsmith as they wrapped up a 13-7 win and a berth in the Regional Finals against Hicksville when Jackson Lammers finished off the top of the 7th inning with a fly ball out and a pair of strikeouts of Freeman and Adesi.
Miller City and Hicksville will now play one another at 5pm in Hamler for the right to represent the Hamler Regional in the State Semifinals next Thursday night. Hear the game live on Zsportslive with myself and Todd Hoehn on the call.