In the tournament’s first heart-stopper – it took extra innings for #1-ranked, and undefeated, Berlin Hiland to take down Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, 2-1.
Columbus – They say the bigger they are, the harder they fall. And that’s true.
#1-ranked, and defending state champion Berlin Hiland, the only undefeated team in the this year’s state baseball tournament, did indeed proved that they would not go down without a fight, beating a determined Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in extra innings, 2-1.
CHCA scored first on an unearned run on a botched pickoff attempt in the top of the third to make the score 1-0.
But Berlin starter Braden Mast held serve until the fifth, when the Hawks loaded the bases with one out and got a tying run home on a sacrifice fly to right field.
It stayed that way through the sixth, seventh, and into the eight inning, when Hiland withstood a two-on, one-out thrat by CHCA in the top of the inning…and then mounted a threat of their own in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff single by Tyson Gingerich and an error on a sac bunt attempt by teammate Bryan Yoder.
CHCA reliever Max Ripperger induced a forceout at third base for the first out on a come-backer to the mound.
But the next hitter, Andrew Miller, line the second pitch he saw into the gap in left center field for a run-scoring single to score Yoder from second base with the winning run.
Hiland (31-0) won it with 2 runs on five hits and committed one error.
CHCA (23-8) lost the game with 1 run on five hits and committed one error.
The game was marked by a pair of magnificent pitching efforts.
Hiland’s Braden Mast pitched the first seven innings, giving up just one unearned run on four hits and 108 pitches.
CHCA’s Riffan Smith likewise pitched the first seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits. He threw 109 pitches.
That’s how close it was.
The first Division III semi-final was just as close. Warren Champion (27-3) scored a single run in the top of the seventh inning to knock off an equally determined Clear Fork by the identical 2-1 score, setting up Saturday’s matchup with #1-ranked Hiland and #2-ranked Champion for the Division III title.
Champion’s Drake Batchko pitched a complete game four-hitter to gain the win.
Hiland is seeking to become the first undefeated champion in the tournament since 2010 when Jonathan Alder did the trick with a mark of 34-0.