FAIRBORN — The bottom of the 6th inning of the sectional semifinal game Thursday at Fairborn became a nightmare for Northmont and a dream come true for Centerville.
With the game tied 1-1 the Elks erupted with seven hits including a grand slam by senior Jake Whisman. Throw in a pair of Northmont errors and three walks and Centerville came away with an 11-1 run-rule victory in 5 and 2/3 innings.
The bottom of the 6th started out with pitcher Tyler Defibaugh getting Kenny Stahl out on a routine ground ball to third. After that things got ugly.
Alex Firsdon hit another grounder to third but this time an error let the ball roll into left field. Firsdon advanced to second on a wild pitch and Riley Poulton drew a walk. Sophomore Morgan Colopy singled to left to score Firsdon and sophomore Jared Lieberman singled to load the bases. Whisman belted a grad slam to right center field to give the Elks a 6-1 lead and the rout was on.
After the grand slam Collin Hobert came on in relief but struggled. Thomas Jenkins singled to left and stole second. Grant Lugo struck out but reached first when the catcher let the pitch get past him with Jenkins advancing to third. Lugo stole second and Joey Holiga singled to right to score Jenkins. Kenny Stahl singled to left to drive-in Lugo and Nick Moomey came on to pitch. Firsdon hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Holiga and Poulton drew a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. Colopy drew a walk and Troy Wenning belted a single to center to end the game by run-rule 11-1.
Northmont’s highlight of the game was a lead-off home run to deep left center field by Will Ludington in the top of the 3rd inning. The Thunderbolts loaded the bases in the top of the 4th on a lead-off walk by Ryan Pullins and back-to-back bunt singles by Thomas Walsh and Dylan Guth. Centerville pitcher Joey Hecht struck out Adam Bendinelli and got Hobert to ground into a 5-2-3 double play to end the scoring threat.
Centerville tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the 4th on a home run to right center by Poulton.
The game was evenly and well played until the disastrous 6th inning.
“We couldn’t get out of the 6th inning and that happens sometimes in baseball,” said Northmont Coach Chuck Harlow. “I thought we really prepared well for the tournament and got ourselves in a position to reach the sectional finals, and I really thought we were prepared for this game. The ball just didn’t bounce our way today. I am really proud of our seniors. We only had five and they all played major roles on the team and all five were starters. We had a good junior class but our seniors just kind of kept us together all year.”
With the loss Northmont ends it season at 17-12 overall. The Elks improved to 15-9 and now advance to play Saturday, May 20 at 11 a.m. against the winner of the Moeller vs Milford game.
Despite the loss Harlow was proud of the way his team fought to earn each and every victory this year.
“Nothing was easy for us this year,” he added. “We had to fight every day. We just kept coming back fighting and as a high school coach you always want your kids to succeed. One of our core values is to have discipline, and we definitely had discipline. We just kept trying to do the right thing at the right time and we didn’t make excuses and we worked hard. Unfortunately this game is really a bummer, to say the least, but at the end of the year I can’t be anything but proud of our team because it wasn’t easy. We just kept plugging away.”
NMT 0 0 1 0 0 0 – 01 03 2
CEN 0 0 0 1 0 10 – 11 11 0
Ron Nunnari can be reached at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind