GALION — It is tough to beat a team twice in a season — let alone three times — but that is just what Seneca East accomplished against Colonel Crawford on Friday.
With a Division IV District Championship on the line, the Tigers (16-12) defeated the Eagles 9-3. Seneca East delivered the first punch with three runs in the first inning, and the last punch with five runs in the seventh.
On the mound for Seneca East was senior Brandon Hines, who pitched six innings and gave up no earned runs while striking out five. Junior Aiden Hines locked it down with the seventh-inning closing opportunity where he struck out a pair of Eagles (15-13).
The Tigers started things out with a walk and a single, then Brandon Hines drove in a run with a single. Another runner was able to score on an error, then one reached on a passed ball.
Colonel Crawford senior Nick Eachus singled in the bottom half but the Eagles weren’t able to get anything else brewing. Eachus took the loss on the mound, giving up seven earned runs over six and a third innings worked. He struck out six batters in the process and walked two.
Both teams went down without much fight in the second and third innings, then the Eagles were able to get on the board in the bottom of the fourth. Junior Jacob Lucius reached on an error, freshman Van Wintersteller singled, and freshman Nate McCartney was hit by a pitch to load up the bases. Senior Kason Wurm brought in the Eagles’ first run on a fielder’s choice, then Wintersteller scored on a passed ball.
Three straight singles in the fifth resulted in Seneca East making it a 4-2 advantage. But a pair of clutch strikeouts helped Eachus get out of the jam.
Freshman Deagan Moore started the bottom half with a single and then scored later on a passed ball to make it 4-3. Neither team had much work in the fifth or sixth innings.
The turning point in the game and where the Tigers put the bow on things took place in the seventh inning. Junior Nathan Parks singled, then drove in on junior Caden Fritz’s double to center field. Back-to-back hitters were plunked, then a walk brought in another run to make it 6-3. The Eagles had gone to Wintersteller in relief on the mound with the bases loaded.
Wintersteller was able to force a pop-out for but then a big two-out double by senior Cody Heibertshausen cleared the base paths.
In their final chance, Colonel Crawford was able to get two base runners as junior Micah Thomas singled and Wintersteller reached on an error. That would be all as McCartney was forced into a game-ending groundout.
Brandon Hines, Fritz, and Parks each had multiple hits combined for seven hits as seven total Tigers picked up a hit. Seneca East had 11 hits to seven hits for the Eagles.
Moore and Wintersteller, both freshmen, led the Eagles with two hits a piece. Colonel Crawford regularly played three freshmen in their lineup this season, so the future looks to be pretty good. The losses of seniors Brennan Hamilton, Nick Eachus, Nate Eachus, Rod Rike, Kahnyah Wilcox, Branyon Rowland, and Kason Wurm will be felt.
With the win, Seneca East moves on to play Moweystown Whiteoak for a spot in the regional final against either South Webster or Berlin Hiland. The Tigers will play on June 1 at 5 p.m. at Beavers Field in Lancaster.
Reach Brandon Little by email at email@example.com