Vermilion team takes Class E championship
ALLIANCE — Get ’em on … get ’em over … get ’em in.
Veteran manager Mark Stavole and his Vermilion Zone Expedited team followed those steps en route to a 14-11 victory over the Crestwood Lookouts to capture the Class E (ages 15-18) Hot Stove state championship at Butler-Rodman Park on Sunday.
Two other Lorain County teams — the Wellington Reapers in Class EE (ages 15-16) and the North Ridgeville Rockers (ages 9-10) — lost one-run decisions in their bids for state titles.
“This championship is awesome and something that we’ve wanted for a long time,” said Stavole, whose boys were runners-up last year. “We have a beautiful team, getting our players from all over Lorain County.
“This win cost me a trip to Ponderosa as opposed to a trip to McDonald’s. My wallet’s deflated after this.”
Class E Final Four most valuable player Bobby Oberg and teammate Tyler Old hit home runs in the top of the first inning to get things rolling for Zone Expedited.
Oberg added a run-scoring triple in the second, while Old singled Oberg home and Brandon Foor’s double scored Old.
The Lookouts nibbled at Vermilion’s lead and got as close as 8-7 after four innings. Baserunning blunders in the top of the fourth prevented Vermilion from increasing its lead.
Vermilion (24-1) added four runs in the fifth when it took advantage of three Crestwood errors. Tom Knight and Bryce Henry had RBI singles in the seventh as Vermilion finished the game with 22 hits. The Lookouts added a pair of runs in the sixth and seventh to make things interesting.
“We knew that we couldn’t expect Crestwood to die after our early scoring,” said Stavole. “It really was nice to see us stay up and keep our heads in the game.”
Oberg, Vermilion’s center fielder and a sophomore-to-be at Lorain County Community College, was 4-for-8 during the Final Four. He scored four runs, had two home runs and collected four RBIs as Zone Expedited claimed Vermilion’s first state championship since Vermilion Americut won the Class F title three years ago.
“A real key to this game was that we kept ourselves going,” said Oberg, whose putout closed the win. “Our hitting helped overcome our sporadic defensive play and base-running. It helped that we put our hits together when we did.
“This win definitely is a relief for all of us. Our big innings helped us beat a very tough team.”
Oberg finished with a single in addition to his home run, triple and three RBIs, Mark Grife had three singles and three RBIs and Old wound up with his homer, four singles and three RBIs. Foor had a single, a double and two RBIs, Knight contributed three singles and two RBIs, Henry had two singles and Eric Feliciano added a single and a double.
Wellington’s Reapers gave the defending champion Kenmore Cardinals all that they could handle before falling 4-3.
The Reapers led 1-0 after the first inning and 3-1 after the third before the Cardinals rallied for their third straight Hot Stove championship — the Cardinals have a 79-2 record over that three-year span.
Aaron “Bubba” Grimmett drove in Wellington’s first run when he grounded into a double play with nobody out in the bottom of the first.
Kenmore tied it with a run in the top of the second before the Reapers strung three hits together to score two runs with one out in the third. Donovan Moroney doubled home Nate Joppeck and Grimmett.
Kenmore got its second run in the fourth and a tying run in the sixth.
In the seventh, pinch runner Beau Anderson scored the game-winner off Ryan Harris’ single to center field.
Kenmore reliever Dustin Burns retired the Reapers in order in the bottom of the seventh, including a pair of strikeouts, to squelch the Reapers’ hopes of becoming the first Wellington team to win a state championship.
“It’s not the same story today,” said Reapers (23-3) manager Kevin Phillips in reference to Saturday’s 6-3 semifinal win over Alliance American Legion. “We’re from a lot smaller town but played our hearts out.
“The ball didn’t drop our way. We thought we had the championship, but they came back on us.”
Moroney had a double and two RBIs, while leadoff batter Kenny Natterer had a double. Joppeck had two singles, Grimmett finished with a single and one RBI and Austen Gray contributed a single.
North Ridgeville’s Rockers also couldn’t hold onto an early lead as they dropped a 10-9 decision to the Alliance Christopher Columbus Yankees.
Shayne Erny tripled home Logan Armaro for North Ridgeville’s first run in the top of the first. Ben Rankin reached on an error in the second and scored before the Yankees utilized three singles, a double and an error to score five runs.
North Ridgeville’s (25-1) Matt Hatcher doubled but was left stranded in the third inning.
Rankin hit a solo home run in the fourth, making it a 5-4 game. The Yankees had a single, a double and a triple and scored once in the bottom of the inning.
Erny’s double drove home Hatcher in the top of the fifth before the Rockers exploded for four runs in the sixth to take an 8-6 lead.
David Dowell’s bases-clearing triple was the big hit in the North Ridgeville sixth. He also scored when the Yankees threw the ball away in an attempt to get him out when he thought of trotting home.
Three errors and some wild pitches enabled Alliance to score four runs in the bottom of the sixth to regain the lead.
Dante Redwood’s double plated a ninth Rockers run in the seventh before a ground ball to Alliance’s first baseman put a halt to the rally.
“This was a tough game to lose,” said Rockers manager Will Dowell, whose team had hoped to become the first one out of the North Ridgeville charter to win a state title since the North Ridgeville Royals won the Class H state championship in 1998.
“It was good game by both teams.
“We had two tough innings defensively and ran out of innings to catch them. It’s horrible that all of our errors and mental mistakes led to their runs. We had our opportunities but couldn’t capitalize when we needed to.”
CLASS E (ages 15-18)
Vermilion Zone Expedited 14, Crestwood Lookouts 11
CLASS EE (ages 15-16)
Kenmore Cardinals 4, Wellington Reapers 3
CLASS F (ages 13-14)
Alliance William Penn 5, Firestone Park Sox 0
CLASS G (ages 11-12)
Ellet Yankees 5, Alliance Trap’s Sports 0
CLASS H (ages 9-10)
Alliance Christopher Columbus Yankees 10, North Ridgeville Rockers 9
TOM MAHL / CHRONICLE
Vermilion’s Bobby Oberg (14) leaps toward home plate after hitting a two-run home run in the top of the first inning during Zone Expedited’s 14-11 win. Vermilion captured the Class E state title.