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Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Muhlenkamp's gem sends Cavs to the regional

Division III District Baseball Championship

By Gary R. Rasberry

Coldwater's Mitch Heyne prepares to slide as St. Henry catcher Briar Holloman ge. . .

ADA - Fans hoping for a slugfest between backyard rivals St. Henry and Coldwater instead were treated to a pitching gem.
Grant Muhlenkamp fired a complete game three-hit shutout as the Cavaliers won their 25th district title in beating the Redskins 4-0 in the Division III district final at Wander Field on the campus of Ohio Northern University.  
Coldwater (26-4) advance to the regional at Ed Sandy Field in Elida on Thursday at 5 p.m. against the Freddies of Fredericktown, who won the Lancaster district title on Kevin McLain's no-hitter in a 3-0 win over Columbus Academy.  
St. Henry, which shared the MAC title with Coldwater, ends the season with a 26-4 record.
"We knew they were a great-hitting team," Coldwater coach Brian Harlamert said of St. Henry. "For our guys, you're going to have to hit it to beat us with Grant on the mound. He's not going to walk many. Only one ball was hit really hard. Grant pounded the zone and controlled the (mound)."
The teams met in the final game of the conference season with Coldwater getting the 7-3 win.
Muhlenkamp, who started out slowly due to a torn ACL during football season and arm issues during the spring, didn't use much trickery to get the ball to the plate against St. Henry, serving up a good helping of fastballs. The Redskins got some early swings, resulting in several innings where Muhlenkamp needed fewer than 10 pitches to get through.
"Once I (tore the ACL), my focus was on baseball season and getting through the therapy," Muhlenkamp said. "I worked really hard through the offseason. My mind was on baseball."
St. Henry skipper John Dorner was impressed.
"He threw a great game," Dorner said of Muhlenkamp. "Kept the ball down and worked ahead in the count. Every ground ball we hit, they made plays on."
Muhlenkamp's teammates helped get the senior a lead before he took the mound. Drew Otten reached on a one-out error in the first inning. After Mitchel Stammen enticed Malave Bettinger to ground to first, Mitch Heyne drew a walk and Muhlenkamp was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Adam Klosterman. Stammen experienced a slight loss of control, walking Klosterman to bring in Otten. The Cavaliers' chance to add to the lead in the inning faltered when Heyne was tagged out at home trying to beat a rundown.
"The first inning was a tough inning," Dorner said. "We got the first guy out, had an opportunity to get the second guy out and (then) got the third guy out. Then you have a walk, a hit batsmen and another walk. We did make a nice defensive play to get out of the inning.
"We wanted to set the tone early and had the opportunity to have a 1-2-3 inning. It didn't happen."
Coldwater added another run in the third when Heyne singled in Brody Hoying, who reached on a bunt single and stole second.
The final insurance runs came in the sixth after Muhlenkamp reached on a fielders' choice. Klosterman doubled in pinch-runner Kraig Schoenherr. After Klosterman went to third on an errant pickoff throw, Aaron Harlamert laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to score the run.
Stammen allowed just four hits in 51/3 innings while walking three and striking out one. Brian Kremer pitched the final five outs.
Muhlenkamp kept rolling with efficiency. Through five innings, the senior needed just 49 pitches.
"My main focus is spotting up rather than throw harder," Muhlenkamp said. "I just let our great defense do the work. I just pound the zone."
In the seventh, Muhlenkamp retired the first two batters to extend his consecutive outs streak to 11 before issuing his only walk of the day to Briar Holloman. Garrett Stout followed with a single to put two on for Ryan Mikesell. Muhlenkamp wasted no time putting the game away, getting Mikesell to fly out to center fielder Mitch Schoenherr on the first pitch.
"Coldwater played really well today," Dorner said. "They deserve to win the ballgame today. They're a solid team and they could make noise the rest of the tournament."
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