North Adams advances with 7-3 win over Piketon –
By Mark Carpenter –
There are few high school baseball coaches in southern Ohio who have their teams more fundamentally prepared than North Adams head coach Rob Meade, and that was never more evident than on Wednesday afternoon on the Green Devils’ majestic home field. North Adams welcomed the Piketon Red Streaks to town for a Division III sectional tournament semi-final contest. The Devils, who inexplicably were given a number seven seed in the sectional, were out to prove the voters wrong and they used their style of sound, fundamental baseball, executing to perfection for seven innings and extending their season for at least one more game as they downed the Red streaks by a final score of 7-3.
The win improved the Devils to 15-5 on the season, and moved them to the Division III sectional championship game on Saturday, May 12 at Adena, the tourney’s number two seed.
“We executed and played clean,” said Coach Meade after the win. “If you don’t make mistakes, you’ve always got a chance. We had a couple of balls that fell in that maybe we should have caught, but in the end they didn’t hurt us, and that was a big key for us.”
In the Wednesday win, the Devils got a gutsy complete game effort on the mound from senior Bryant Lung, who allowed six hits with a defense that played errorless baseball behind him. The North Adams offense also had just six hits, but they were timely and combined with some aggressive base running, added up to seven runs and a victory.
“I can’t say enough about the job Bryant did on the mound,” added Meade. “Just as important is that we didn’t give up free bases at home plate, thanks to a great job by Elijah Young at the catcher position. He came in form shortstop to catch in a very important game and he did a nice job and I was real pleased with that.”
The Devils jumped out early off of Piketon starter Kannon Pack, picking up a big four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Lead off hitter Dalton Gardner reached on an error and immediately stole second base, then moved to third on a base hit to left by two-hole hitter Ethan Thompson. One of the things that Coach Meade’s teams excel at is bunting, and Elijah Young executed the squeeze bunt to perfection, scoring Gardner with the game’s first run.
A line drive single to left by Lung brought Thompson across, and the bases moved to loaded when Tyler Horsley was hit by a pitch and Michael Gill drew a walk. An infield hit by the fleet-footed Colt Shumaker drove home a run to make it 3-0 and a fielder’s choice ground ball off the bat of Ryan Shupert scored Horsley with the frame’s fourth run.
The Red Streaks got to Lung for a single run in the top of the third on a run-scoring hit by Conner Galloway, but a nice diving catch in short right field by second baseman Thompson ended the Piketon threat. The Devils got that run back in their half of the fourth when they executed a double steal, Young swiping second with Gardner sliding home to make it 5-1.
Piketon answered by getting two runs in the top of the fifth, one run scoring on a Lung wild pitch and the other coming home on a Jacob Mathews base hit that made it 5-3, but with their lead now cut to just two runs, the Devils did what good teams do-they answered.
In the bottom of the fifth, Horsley and Layne Williams began the innings with walks and were sacrificed over on a Shumaker bunt. A base hit to left by Shupert scored Horsley and Williams later raced home on a wild pitch and the Devils were again up by four at 7-3.
Now with a cushion to work with, Lung set the Red Streaks down in 1-2-3 fashion in the sixth, then got into some trouble in the top of the seventh, walking one and hitting a batter, but retired the final hitter of the game on a foul pop-up to first baseman Noah Lung and the Devils were moving to the sectional title game.
In his complete game win, Lung struck out seven hitters, and six different Devils had base hits on offense, with Shupert, batting ninth, drove home a pair of runs. Pack worked 4 1/3 innings for Piketon and was tagged with the loss.
Now, the attention of Coach Meade and his troops goes to a tough challenge on Saturday with the trip to Adena. If they can pull out a win there, they will claim a sectional title and move on to Paints Stadium in Chillicothe for the District tourney on May 18.
“Adena is pretty good, you can’t get a two seed and not be good,” said Coach Meade. “I will find out what I can about them and like I told my guys after the game, we’ll go do what we can and as long as we play mistake-free baseball, we’ll have a shot.”
001 020 0 —3
400 120 x —7
Piketon Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Penwell 4-1-1-0, Blakeman 3-0-0-0, Galloway 3-1-2-1, Mathews 4-0-1-1, Thornsberry 0-0-0-0, Pack 2-0-0-0, Brown 2-0-0-0, McGaughey 3-0-0-0, Barker 3-0-0-0, Lightle 2-1-2-0, Team 26-3-6-2.
N. Adams Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Gardner 4-2-1-0, Thompson 3-1-1-0, Young 2-0-1-1, Lung 4-1-1-1, Osborne 4-0-0-0, Horsley 2-2-0-0, Gill 1-0-0-0, Williams 0-1-0-0, Shumaker 2-0-1-1, Shupert 3-0-1-2, Team 25-7-6-5.
Pack (L) 4.1 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 94 pitches
Vulgamore 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 31 pitches