CHAMPION — In one of the strongest showings ever by an OGSO Lorain County community, Amherst sent three undefeated teams to the organization’s state tournament last weekend.
In uncomfortable rainy and muddy conditions at the Champion Athletic Club complex, two of them — the Vipers in U14 Class C and Wranglers in U10 Class A — were eliminated in first-time losses Saturday.
But the third, the unbeaten Avengers (18-0), moved into a championship game at 2:30 this afternoon against the Lorain Dirt Devils, assuring Lorain County of at least one state championship.
The Avengers handed the Dirt Devils their only two regular-season defeats. An interesting coincidence is that some players on both squads are summer travel-ball teammates and longtime friends.
The county could have, and OGSO’s Lorain-Medina district will have, a shot at a second state title in U10 Class A.
The Columbia Lady Raiders and Buckeye Cooper battled to a 7-7 tie in the eighth inning when their protracted semifinal battle was halted by a veritable cloudburst.
When the umps suspended play, Columbia had the potential winning run at third base with no outs in the home eighth. Play resumes at 11 a.m. today. The winner will play the Champion Indians for the state title at 2:30 p.m. Champion knocked off Amherst’s Wranglers 5-3 in their semifinal matchup earlier in the day.
In Class C, the Amherst Vipers apparently left their bats at home after falling 6-0 to the Garrettsville Jags. Their defense also disappointed.
“You can’t expect to win when you give a team like Garrettsville five outs in an inning,” Vipers coach and former Amherst High star Amanda Arendt said. “And you can’t expect to win when your team doesn’t hit the ball.”
Madison Oberg, the Class B Avengers hurler, threw a nine-strikeout one-hitter in an 8-2 win over the Champion Flashes. She said she and her teammates are excited about the possibility of winning a state title this afternoon.
“It feels really amazing that we get to go to the state championship game,” said Oberg, who had a no-hitter going into the seventh.
Audrey McConihe, Abby Kachure and Maddie Baker had two hits for the Avengers.
“We had great pitching, Madison Oberg came to play today as she always does,” Avengers coach Doug Cogdell said. “She’s such a pro. She goes out there and throws strikes all day. We’ve relied on her all year and she just keeps coming through.”
“They continue to play as a team,” Avengers assistant coach Mike Kachure said. “Maddie (Oberg) is a big part of our success at this stage. Good pitching leads to successful teams.”
Lorain’s Dust Devils beat the Labrae Vikings 5-3, but were tied at 2 until coach Javier Marcano pulled the oldest trick in the book — the old “pickle trick” — with two outs in the fourth inning.
Marcano sent a runner at first halfway to second base, and when the defense tried to make a play on her, the runner at third ran home with the go-ahead run. The Devils didn’t relinquish the lead.
“I played baseball and in a game like this, you have to play small ball,” Marcano said. “You have to get the bunt down, you have to make the perfect catch and the perfect throw. That’s what we did, we tried to play small ball to try to win the game. Once we went up that one run, we just continued to play small ball.
“You have to come to play, and in the state tournament you’re not going to have blow-out, 10-run games,” Marcano said. “At the end of the day, I think our girls know what to expect.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OGSO STATE TOURNAMENT
OGSO State Semis
Crestwood 10, South Amherst Firelands 0
Western Reserve 2, Lorain Xplosion 1
Garrettsville Jags 6, Amherst Vipers 0
Mogadore Wildcats 5, Waterloo 0
Amherst Avengers 8, Champions Flashes 2
Lorain Dirt Devils 5, Labrae Vikings 3
Champion Indians 5, Amherst Wranglers 3
Columbia Red Wagon 7, Buckeye Cooper 7
(Suspended, rain, 8th inning)
Class D final
Crestwood 5, Western Reserve 2
Today’s state finals
All start times 2:30
Garrettsville Jags vs. Mogadore Wildcats
Amherst Avengers vs. Lorain Dust Devils
Columbia-Buckeye winner vs. Champion, field 3
Class A suspended semifinal
Columbia Red Wagon vs. Buckeye Cooper, 11 a.m.
(Saturday game halted by rain in eighth inning of 7-7 tie.)