ALLIANCE — Monumental upsets and fifth-inning rallies were the story of the day for Lorain County teams Sunday at the Ohio Hot Stove state tournament at Butler Rodman Park.
The upset came courtesy of the Class G North Ridgeville Rebels, who knocked off the three-time defending state champion Ravenna Beasts 4-2.
The Rebels (24-1) scored three runs in the third inning to take the lead and pitchers Kyle Fairbanks and Sammy Zambataro did the rest, combining for 10 strikeouts while holding the Beasts to just two hits to claim the 11-12-year-old age group.
“We knew (Ravenna) was a great team but today our guys scrapped and played with heart,” Rebels coach Jack Calcut said. “Our pitching was great, we made our plays in the outfield and we made our plays in the infield. I’m just so proud of the boys. We were short a couple of guys today but we did it.”
Christian Begalla, whose third-inning single scored Jack Calcut and gave the Rebels a three-run lead, was named the Class G Most Valuable Player.
“Winning a state championship feels amazing,” Begalla said. “It was a group effort and it feels so good when it pays off. I can’t accept all of the glory for the MVP award because, like I said, it was a group effort.
“We had faith we would win because we were unified. We knew we were playing a good team but we went in thinking, ‘Hey, we made it this far. Let’s just go out and do our best, make the plays we can make and make something happen.’”
Fairbanks and Xander Gendics also had RBIs for the Rebels and Jaden Yee added a triple.
Amherst Perritt Homes and North Ridgeville FTC knew each other well heading into the Class H (9-10) championship game as the teams split a pair of regular-season games.
This time Amherst would not be denied, scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to pull out an 8-7 win.
The teams were tied going into the fifth when FTC took the lead. Chase English and Evan Kvcerik led off the inning with back-to-back hits and came around to score for a 7-5 lead.
However, the heart of the Amherst batting order answered as Kaden Sikora, Harrison Schneider and Cael Charles all scored runs in the bottom half of the fifth to put Perritt Homes on top 8-7.
Amherst coach Brandon Dimacchia got creative with the use of his pitching staff, frequently switching Schneider and Sikora in attempt to keep FTC guessing at the plate.
“We were trying to throw FTC off-balance and we have two real good pitchers that can alternate, so just when they think they have one figured out we’d bring the other one in,” Dimacchia said.
Schneider started the sixth inning and got the first out but he was happy to give the ball to Sikora for the final two outs to preserve the win.
“I was a nervous wreck by the sixth inning,” Schneider said. “I could’t even function right. Thank God coach Brandon came out and got me and put Kaden back in. At the end of the game I was about to pass out, I just could not believe it.”
In addition striking out the final two batters, Sikora went 2-for-3 with a home run and two runs scored to earn the Class H MVP award.
“It feels amazing to win a state championship,” Sikora said. “I’ve never had it happen before. It’s too good to be true. I was getting nervous out there but I just did my best, threw strikes and got outs. We pulled out as a team and I’m really glad that it happened. I try my hardest every day because baseball is my favorite sport, so to win awards and win championships really means a lot to me.”
Amherst finished the year 25-1, while FTC ended 23-3.
Avon 3 Outs Baseball also needed a fifth-inning rally to secure the Class I (7-8) championship with a 7-5 win over the North Ridgeville Corntown Crushers.
Rocco Duray, the Class I MVP, hit a single to drive in a pair of runs put his team in front.
Vince Wensing had a home run and double in a losing effort for the Corntown Crushers.