ALLIANCE - Only the outcome was pleasing.
"That was the worst we've played this year," Grafton CommStar manager Ken Vance said. "We got the bad game out of our system."
Grafton CommStar advanced to the title game of Class GG (ages 11 and under) of the Ohio Hot Stove tournament after a 10-9 victory Saturday over Andrew's Army of Richville.
CommStar might have played a bad game, but it was a horrible seventh inning by Richville that kept CommStar's season alive and ran its winning streak to 18 games. The Army surrendered four unearned runs as Grafton used a pair of hits, two walks, three errors and a hit batter to scratch for a win, all with two out.
Fittingly, it was a routine fly ball that popped out of an outfielder's glove that brought in the tying and winning runs.
"Take until you get a strike was our advice to them (in the seventh inning," Vance said. "We needed baserunners. Fortunately, they walked a lot of us."
Grafton (23-2) collected eight walks to go with eight hits.
Seamus Higley started the rally with a single. Aiden Vance and Nick Crum walked to load the bases before a groundball by Seth Sanders was booted at shortstop to bring in a run and cut the margin to 9-7. Jamie Myers was hit by a pitch to push another run home. Ray Shaver's fly ball to left field was misplayed, allowing Crum and Sanders to score.
"When I saw that ball hit I thought, 'Oh gosh, what's going to happen now,'" said Myers, the winning pitcher. "When he dropped it I almost began to cry. It was so amazing. I thought he (the left fielder) was our MVP."
CommStar will play Alliance Kiwanis at noon today for the state championship.
Before CommStar rallied, the game was one of missed opportunities for the Grafton team.
"We had a lot of bad baserunning," Vance said. "We made a lot of baserunning mistakes, and we ran ourselves out of big innings. That's not characteristic of this team. We're usually very fundamentally sound."
The game ruined a great performance by Dominick Bowman of Richville, who had four hits and six runs batted in.
Three other Lorain County teams won Saturday. The Lorain Titans defeated Massillon 12-0 in five innings in a Class EE (15-16) semifinal. Pat O'Brien Chevrolet of Vermilion beat Alliance William Penn, 6-5 in Class E (15-18). The Grafton Midview Mayhem knocked off the Canton Pirates 16-6 in five innings.
Lorain (22-0) got two triples and five RBIs from Antoine Edwards and shutout pitching by Michael Velez (5-0). The Titans play Miller Farms of Valley City today at noon.
Derek Mills pitched a complete game and Steve Spangenberg had two hits for Pat O'Brien, which will face the Coventry Comets at 2:30 p.m. for the title.
Connor Bansek, Samuel Presser and winning pitcher Andrew Shaver had four hits each to spark the Mayhem (25-0), who will play Sebring VFW at 11:30 this morning for the championship.
Vermilion Aramys failed to make it to the championship round in Class G (12-and-under) after falling to the North Akron Buckeyes, 16-10.
Vermilion (48-10) owned a 7-2 lead after two innings before North Akron put together back-to-back five-run innings to go up 12-8. Aramys cut the difference to 12-10 with a pair of runs in the fifth but the Buckeyes scored three in the sixth and held Vermilion scoreless for the final two innings.
North Akron had six hits in the third and fourth innings, mostly on bunt singles.
"We lost the game when we had a 7-2 lead and then could not rotate on a bunt," Vermilion manager Dwayne Jarrell said. "If we can't field a routine bunt we don't deserve to win. Our defense let us down."
Vermilion scored five runs in the first inning. Caleb Waller and Jose Modic had run-scoring singles, Kyle Prete had a sacrifice fly and Caleb O'Quinn walked with the bases loaded. A fielding error got the other run across.
Waller hit a two-run home run with Andrew Brewer on base in the second inning. Andrai Wright hit a two-run double behind singles by Waller and Nick Barkdull in the fifth.
Also eliminated Saturday was the New London Eagles, an 8-7 loser to the Springfield Reds in 10 innings. Josh Hamilton had three hits, including two doubles, for New London.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.