Dragons fall by 1 run to Harbor Creek for 2nd time
Warren fell into 4-0 and couldn’t come all the way back in a 4-3 Region 7 loss to visiting Harbor Creek Monday.
The win clinched at least a share of the Region 7 title for the Huskies, their second straight region championship. All four of the Dragons’ losses this season have been by a single run.
“It’s another 1-run game,” Warren coach Rick Eaton said. “We’re just as good as these teams, but we didn’t win the region. That’s baseball.”
Pitching dominated the first half of the game.
Warren (10-4 overall, 3-3 Region 7) junior Nick Hussey and Harbor Creek (12-4, 5-1) sophomore Aiden Kelly combined to allow just two hits, both singles, through the first three innings.
The Huskies finally solved Hussey in the fourth.
Casey Smith led off with a single and Cody Smith walked to put runners on first and second. Casey Smith was forced out at third on Domonic Keiser’s ground ball to short and Hussey got Jimmy Lucas to pop out to third for the second out. Cameron Williamson took a 3-1 pitch to right for a single and Cody Smith came around for the first run of the game. Kelly followed with a RBI single to right to make it 2-0 and Kenny Berlin hit a sharp grounder to left for a Huskies 3-0 lead.
Kelly gave up a single to Micah Passmore to start the bottom of the inning, but struck out the side to keep the Dragons off the board.
Another two out rally in the fifth gave Harbor Creek a critical insurance run.
Mitch Grosch got a ground out and strikeout to start the inning, but Cody Smith drew a walk and moved to third on a pair of wild pitches. Kaiser hit a single up the middle, the ball hit Grosch and richocheted to short. Ryan Rafalski overran the ball trying to make the play, Kaiser reached safely and Cody Smith scored to put the Huskies up 4-0.
“We make a couple different plays and maybe it’s different,” Eaton said.
Rafalski legged out an infield single to start the bottom of the inning, then moved to second on a passed ball. Ben Berdine hit a ground ball to deep short. The ball was deep enough for Berdine to reach safely and Rafalski advanced to third. Casey Smith tried to make a leaping throw from short, but the ball sailed wide of first and Rafalski was able to score to put the Dragons on the board.
One out later, Grosch and Passmore drew back-to-back walks to load the bases for Austyn Cummings. On a 1-0 pitch, Cummings tried to check his swing but tapped the ball back to Kelly to end the inning.
“Their pitcher was in command today,” Eaton said. “He commanded the zone and through well. He only had that one inning where he allowed a couple walks.”
Warren cut the deficit in half in the sixth.
Aidan Morrison and Lance Baldensperger hit back-to-back singles to start the inning. With one away, Ryan Arnold put down a sac bunt to put the runners at second and third. Ethan Wilson came in as a courtesy runner for Morrison and scored on Berdine’s ground ball single to short.
Grosch worked a 1-2-3 seventh, with a pair of strikeouts, to give the Dragons a chance for a walk-off win.
Kelly got Grosch to pop out, then struck out Passmore to get Warren down to its final out. Cummings watched the first pitch sail high, then launched the next pitch over the wall in left-center to make it 4-3. Kelly got Morrison swinging, and Williamson fired the dropped third strike to Keiser at first to end the game.
Kelly was absolutely dominant on the mound. He gave up three runs, all earned, over seven innings on eight hits. He walked two and struck out 14.
“He threw well,” Eaton said.
Hussey gave up three runs, all earned, over four innings on five hits. He walked one and struck out three. Grosch gave up one earned run on one hit in three innings of relief. He walked one and struck out four.
Berdine was the only player on either team with multiple hits and Cummings’ blast was the only extra base hit of the game.
Harbor Creek can lock up the Region 7 title outright with a win at Fort LeBoeuf Wednesday.
The Dragons can soften up the Bison when the teams travel to Ainsworth Field today to makeup their game from last week. The contest is being played at Ainsworth due to unplayable conditions at LeBoeuf’s home field.
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Harbor Creek (4)
Vaughn rf 4-0-1-0, Ca. Smith ss 4-0-1-0, Co. Smith cf 1-2-0-0, Keiser 1b 3-1-1-1, Lucas 2b 3-0-0-0, Williamson c 3-0-1-1, Ftizgerald cr 0-1-0-0, Kelly p 3-0-1-1, Berlin dh 3-0-1-1, Miller 3b 3-0-0-0, Totals 27-4-6-4
Grosch 2b-p 3-0-0-0, Passmore 3b 3-0-1-0, Cummings dh 4-1-1-1, Morrison c 4-0-1-0, Wilson cr 0-1-0-0, Baldensperger cf 3-0-1-0, Rafalski ss 3-1-1-0, Arnold lf 2-0-1-0, Berdine 1b 3-0-2-1, Swanson rf 2-0-0-0, Loomis ph 1-0-0-0, Totals 28-3-8-2
Harbor Creek 000 310 0 – 4 6 1
Warren 000 011 1 – 3 8 0
DP-None. HR-Cummings (W). SB-Arnold (W). E-Ca. Smith (H)
IP H R ER BB K
Kelly (W, 2-1) 7 8 3 3 2 14
Hussey (L, 1-1) 4 5 3 3 1 3
Grosch 3 1 1 1 1 4