By Mark Ruschau
COLDWATER -- The Coldwater Cavaliers and the Parkway Panthers used the same formula -- great pitching and one big offensive inning -- to capture Division III sectional championships Saturday afternoon at Veterans Field.
The Cavaliers and the Panthers will now meet in the first game of the District torunament on Monday May 15th at 5 p.m. back at Veterans Field.
Parkway used a fine pitching job by senior Tyler Brickley and seven runs in the first two frames to defeat the Crestview Knights 7-3. Coldwater got a solid performance on the hill by senior Sam Slavik and a three-run fourth to rally and defeat the Lima Central Catholic Thunderbirds 5-3.
Brickley was solid in shutting down a Crestview offense that came into the game scoring an average of eight runs a game, limiting them to just three runs and six hits in posting the complete game win. Brickley had good command as he walked just one batter and fanned 10, of which six were called third strikes.
"Tyler felt it early today and he was able to get his curve ball over for strikes," said Parkway coach Eric Stachler. "When he is on, Tyler can mix his pitches well and that is something you have to do against a good hitting team like Crestview. It was good to see that Tyler was able to throw his curve ball for strikes because that changes everything for him, because when he can do that, it sets up all his other pitches."
Parkway got the scoring underway in the first inning as the Panthers scored twice. Derik Snyder reached on an error to start the inning. After two outs were recorded, Jensen Painter reached on another error. Trevor Krogman then came up with the big blow of the inning with a two-run double to the gap in right center.
Parkway blew the game open, scoring five times in the second. Jordan Thompson led off the inning with a single. Brickley and Rikki Covarrubias both laid perfect bunt singles to load the bases. Crestview pitcher Scott Eickholt looked to be out of the inning as he got Snyder to look at strike three. Eickholt then hit Jeremy Heiser with a pitch to make the score 3-0.
Jordan Heckler popped to second for the second out. With two out, Painter worked the count to 3-2 and then hit a grand slam over the fence in right field to make the score 7-1.
"This past week we have been really hitting the ball well," said Stachler. "When you get into the tournament, you take anything that you can get. We played Crestview before. We knew that they were fundamentally sound so we felt like we had to put the ball in play and so we laid two bunts and they couldn't make the play on them and that cost them. I was kind of disapointed there in the third that we had the bases loaded with no outs and we could not put the ball in play but then Jensen bailed us out with that big blast."
Coldwater struggled offensively early and veteran pitcher Sam Slavik struggled early as well, but both were able to right themselves and come up big.
The Cavaliers struck for a pair of runs in the opening innning. Cory Klenke reached on an error and scored on a two-run home run off the bat of Troy Siefring.
After retiring six of of the first seven men he faced in the game, Slavik ran into trouble in the third as LCC sent nine men to the plate and scored three times. Danny Kaseman had an infield hit off the mound and Travis Kottenbrock walked. John Stanovich reached on a fielder's choice and a throwing error to score Kaseman to make the score 3-1.
After D.J. Evans struck out, Tony Caprella singled to load the bases. Eric (Continued from page 1B)
Stolly singled and Nick Ferry to drive in runs to give the T-Birds a 3-2 lead. Slavik then got out of further trouble as he struck out Aaron Link and Gavin Saine bounced out to end the inning.
After getting out of the jam in the third, Slavik was near perfect as he retired 15 of the last 16 batters that he faced.
For the afternoon, Salvik walked just two and struck out nine.
"Except for the one inning, Sam was pretty much in control and he was ahead of people," said Coldwater coach Brian Harlamert. "I think, for Sam, his problems in the third started with the ball that was hit right back to him and it went threw his legs. Then he walked a guy and I think he was a little unsure of himself at that point.
"I think the big things for us was that after we got down 3-2 that we shut the door on them right there," continued Harlamert. "For Sam it was a very competetive day, he was ahead of batters and what I saw of Sam Slavik today was a pitcher who wanted to battle and to be the guy on the mound who wanted to battle for us."
The Coldwater offense which was limited to one hit after scoring in the opening frame came up with three two out runs in the fourth to take the lead for good.
Trevor Stomblad and Slavik singled with two out. Ryan Geier then doubled to right to plate two runs and Geier took third on the throw home and scored late in the inning on a wild pitch.