NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Don’t tell South Amherst Firelands Firehawks right fielder Garrick Sebolt that baseball isn’t a mental game.
Sebolt’s quick thinking and fast running propelled the Firehawks to an 8-7 come-from-behind win over Grafton Phillips in a Class GG Hot Stove district tournament game Saturday at Palmer Field.
With the score tied and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Sebolt reached base with a four-pitch walk. The Grafton manager came out to make a pitching change but before the reliever could throw his first pitch to Jackson Talbot, Sebolt had already found his way to second base.
“I knew I was going to run once I got on base,” Sebolt said. “I saw no one was covering second base so I just ran.”
Two pitches later Sebolt advanced to third on a wild pitch and one more errant throw would spell doom for Grafton Phillips.
“After I got to third, they made a bad throw back to the pitcher,” Sebolt said. “I saw that and I knew I was going to score.”
Sebolt’s romp around the bases capped off a wild rally for South Amherst Firelands, which trailed 6-2 in the second inning.
“It’s tournament time and this was a great game between two great teams,” Firehawks manager Joe Bibb said. “It was win or go home, and the boys kept playing our game and took advantage of a couple mistakes to get that winning run in.”
Zack Brill pitched the final two innings to get the win as the Firehawks improved to 14-7 and set up a second-round matchup today against Keystone Houston.
“In a tight game you go with your best arms,” Bibb said. “He got out of the sixth inning so quick I told him, ‘Dude that should not even count as an inning.’”
Leadoff hitter James Steindl had a big offensive day for the Firehawks scoring three runs, and stealing a pair of bases.
Seth Weber pitched a complete game and Keshaun Glover hit a double, triple and scored a pair of runs in the Elyria Gladiators’ 12-2 win over Vermilion in Class E action.
According to Gladiators manager Rob Townsley, it was the first postseason win in the three-year history of the Gladiators’ Hot Stove program.
“It was a great game,” said Townsley, whose team improved to 5-12. “The kids fought hard against a tough opponent and our bats finally woke up today. The kids have put a lot of pressure on themselves, and at the end of the game they showed what they can do if they just relaxed.”
Elyria scored 10 runs over the final three innings to complete the five-inning, mercy rule-shortened win.
Glover was robbed of a home run in the fifth inning when he hit a line drive to the left-center-field gap that would have been an inside-the-park home run had Chris Huff, who was standing on second base after hitting a double, not came home to score the game-ending run.
Weber struck out five to get the win and help his team advance to face the South Amherst Firelands Crushers today in Grafton.
“It was challenging today,” Weber said. “Not only was that a good team we played, but I’m not used to these early games. I am used to pitching at night. It was hot and sweaty and I was having a hard time gripping the ball.
“I’ve known all season we could play this way. It was just a matter of playing together as a team. Now we have to put this game behind us and do it again (today).”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.