HAMLER, OH – They might have done it in completely different fashions but Kalida and Fort Recovery posted Thursday afternoon wins and will face off for a trip to Columbus at 5pm on Friday.
Future University of Toledo Rocket hurler Brady Laudick got the start for Kalida on the mound and retired the hot bats of New London in the first while allowing just one runner to reach base before DJ Yates flew out to right fielder Trent Siebeneck to end the opening stanza. Earlier in the inning Siebeneck made a diving snag of a Nate Thomas liner for the games first out that would have been a sure double for New London.
In the bottom of the first Siebeneck opened the game by lacing a 2-2 pitch from opposing starter Justin Chaffins. Despite having the bases loaded in the inning the Wildcats would only be able to muster one run as the inning came to an abrupt halt on a line drive by Noah Lambert that was caught by Thomas.
Leading 1-0 to begin the fourth inning the PCL Champions added a second run as Lambert was driven in to score by Austin Klausing to make the Kalida advantage 2-0 heading to the fifth.
The top of the fifth was the best inning of the game for New London as they not only plated a trio of runs to give themselves a 3-2 lead, they also chased Laudick from the mound. Austin Swift, the future Indiana Wesleyan pitcher came on in relief of Laudick with one out in the inning and looked to replicate his 18 strikeout performance from the District Finals against Leipsic. Brad Weber, the 8th hitter of the inning against Kalida fell victim to a fastball from Swift and struck out to end the frame with New London leaving a pair of runners on base.
Kalida’s bottom of the fifth inning proved to be the difference maker as Siebeneck and Trevor Maag who had reached on a walk and an RBI triple in the inning were brought around to score on a Braden Decker double to run his teams lead to one at 4-3.
After escaping a bases loaded situation in the sixth inning with a strikeout and a groundout to the pitcher the Wildcats of Kalida needed one big stand to secure the win in the top of the seventh.
Ryan Lane, the standout junior pitcher and infielder for New London reached after being hit by a pitch to open the inning, but would find himself stuck at second base with an out on the scoreboard after Yates was walked and Weber was a strikeout victim. New London catcher Daedrick Matthews grounded a ball to second to Trent Gerding that was promptly turned into a 4-6-3 game ending double play to give Kalida the victory just a pair of pitches later.
Austin Swift (8-0) took the win for Kalida (23-1) while Justin Chaffins (4-3) finishes with the loss for New London who sees their season end at 24-4.
In the second game of the day the Fort Recovery Indians, looking to go back to state for the second consecutive season under head coach Jerry Kaup were victorious over Ayersville 7-5 despite committing four errors in the contest.
Jackson Hobbs, the Fort Recovery starter who came in at 6-2 on the season took the mound at the top of the ballgame and wasted no time as he got a pair of ground outs and a flyout on ten pitches to put away Ayersville in their opening turn at bat.
A walk and a fielders choice gave the Indians a chance to push through the games first run, but a popout by Jacob Homan ended the threat just as quickly as it began and sent the game scoreless into the second.
Cole Wendel acquired first base via a full count walk and was driven in by Hobbs’ RBI triple to give the home team for the day a 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the third. Jacob Homan drove in Hobbs on the very next offering from Ayersville starter Jacob Kahle and the Indians pushed ahead to 2-0 after three complete.
Ayersville tagged Hobbs for a trio of runs in the fourth inning to take their first lead at 3-2 behind an error, a hit by pitch and a two RBI double by Tyler Brown.
The visitors time in the lead quickly came to a close as Fort Recovery plated a pair of their own in the bottom half of the fourth inning with Kyle Schroer and Chase Bruns crossing the plate to put the Indians back on top at 4-3.
Despite giving up just a pair of earned runs on four hits in the game, Hobbs was sent to play third base as Nick Thwaits was brought in from right field to pitch in relief with a runner on in Eric Engel who had singled to open the game and was sac bunted 90 feet by Kyle Nicely. Engel came around to score on a Jacob Miller RBI single but the Pilots were unable to add any additional runs in the inning and headed to the bottom of the fifth tied at 4.
As they had done in their previous at bat the Indians wasted little time putting up a pair of runs on the Patrick Henry scoreboard as Thwaits and Wendel were knocked in on a double with no outs by Hobbs to make it 6-4 Ft. Recovery.
Three errors in the sixth inning was almost the undoing in the game for the Indians but the trio of pitchers they used in the inning (Hobbs, Wendel, Thwaits) were able to limit the damage to just a pair of runs when Thwaits struck out Jacob Kahle to keep the game at a one run advantage for his team.
A sacrifice fly by Hobbs, his fourth RBI of the game added the final run and sent the contest to the top of the final inning at 7-5 before Thwaits ended the game with a pair of strikeouts and a popout he caught with his own glove off the bat of Kasey Williams.
Fort Recovery (21-8) advances to play Kalida at 5pm Friday while Ayersville (19-9) sees their season draw to a close in their first regional appearance under Chad Donsbach.
Hear Friday’s Kalida/Ft Recovery game live: WZOQ Radio