By ANDY WOLF
CLYDE — New Riegel coach Gregg Hughes thinks his team is playing their best baseball of the season.
The Blue Jackets reaffirmed that notion Wednesday afternoon.
They spotted senior ace Michael Kirian a 10-0 lead after two innings before topping Lakota 14-3 in five innings in the Division IV district baseball semifinals at Clyde High School.
“I really like how they came out,” Hughes said. “We really hit the ball well. We’ve been doing that lately, starting to click. … I’m really happy with the way we played.”
New Riegel (19-5) advances to meet Tiffin Calvert (12-9) in the district finals 5 p.m. Friday at Clyde.
In the first semifinal, the Senecas got revenge on Mohawk with a 13-1 victory in six innings in a rematch of last year’s district final.
The Warriors (21-6) edged Calvert 2-1 a year ago on a walkoff bases-loaded suicided squeeze.
On Wednesday, New Riegel and Tiffin Calvert both took no chances in choosing which starter to turn to.
They each turned to their respective Division I signees: Kiran (Louisville) for New Riegel and Peyton Deats (Kent State) for Calvert.
New Riegel had lost to Lakota 8-3 in Sandusky Bay Conference River Division play earlier in the year without Kirian pitching.
“We’ve got Alec (Zoeller) and Cole (Noftz) and they’re both really good pitchers,” Hughes said of his other starters. “They have been all year long. We’re just going to continue to do that. That day Lakota hit the ball really well, we booted it around. They made us pay for it. They’re a good hitting team.”
The Raiders could hardly touch Kirian.
He allowed two earned runs on three hits and two walks with nine strikeouts.
“Hit the fastball, soon as you see it,” Lakota coach Ethan Linder said of their approach to Kirian. “We cranked the pitching machine up, not quite sure if they would throw him but still had a hunch. We knew hit the fastball before he drops the slider in. It’s almost unhittable.”
The 6-foot-6 southpaw fanned the first three Lakota hitters looking on 12 pitches, two on three pitches each.
The Blue Jackets went to work offensively in the bottom half.
Zoeller plated Noftz on an RBI single to get them on the board followed by three unearned runs, including a Ben Dryfuse RBI double, in the frame to take a 4-0 lead.
“If we can score in the first inning, it seems like we do really well,” Hughes said. “We get the momentum going and we’ve been hitting well lately.”
Kirian also pitched a 1-2-3 second inning but without any strikeouts.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets tacked on six and four runs over the next two innings off Lakota starter Tyler Wehrle.
Alex Theis, an Ohio State baseball signee, had a two-run triple in the second inning and Nick Reinhart cleared the bases with a three-run double but was tagged out at third on the hit.
In the third inning, Brandon Arbogast laced a two-run single up the middle while Tyler Halcomb and Ben Dryfuse had consecutive RBI singles to complete their scoring.
The Blue Jackets tallied 12 hits, all off Wehrle, with each player in the order reaching base safely.
Wehrle lasted 22/3 innings, striking out four batters and only walking four.
The Raiders committed five errors behind him.
“He was hitting every darn spot that we asked him to,” Linder said of Wehrle. “(New Riegel) just did exceptionally well hitting the baseball. We made a couple mental errors on defense; other than that, that’s pretty much how it went.”
While the run is over, the Raiders did bask in reaching the district semifinal stage for the first time in 23 years.
Lakota will return all but two seniors.
“We’ve had the support of the school, the administration,” Linder said. “Our superintendent drove the bus and brought us to this game. (It’s) very special,. Unfortunately you come up short.”
In the first game, Deats found his command early and fired a two-hitter with 14 strikeouts.
He retired the final 11 batters of the game after surrendering an RBI double to Austin Harper and a single to Derek Dietrich in the third inning.
Similar to the second game, the Senecas spotted Deats five runs in the first inning and went on to produce two more four-run innings.
Mohawk starter Wyatt Cook lasted just one inning, allowing all five earned on four hits and three walks.
The crooked number all came after two outs and with Cook striking out leadoff man Trenton Cooper one three pitches.
“In my mind before the game I thought we’re going to have to hold them under three (runs),” Mohawk coach Eric Hoover said. ”
Collectively, Calvert racked up 15 hits, 12 singles.
Kaden Wuescher had two singles and three RBIs, Nolan Wuescher had a double, a single and four RBIs and Nick Miller had a two-run double for the Senecas.
Tiffin Calvert 504 004 — 13 15 0
Mohawk 001 000 — 1 2 3
WP — Deats. LP — Cook. top hitters: (TC) Miller 2B, 2 RBI; Gase 2B, 1B; K. Wuesher 2-1B, 3 RBI; N. Wuesher 2B, 1B, 4 RBI; Deats 2-1B; Kennedy 1B, RBI; (Moh) Harper 2B, RBI; Dietrich 1B.
records: Tiffin Calvert 12-9; Mohawk 21-6.
Lakota 002 10 — 3 3 5
New Riegel 464 0x — 14 12 2
WP — Kirian. LP — Wehrle. top hitters: (Lak) Knallay 1B; Hoffman RBI; Kagy 1B, RBI; Biddle 1B. (NR) Zoeller 1B, RBI; Theis 3B, 2 RBI; Kirian 2-1B; Arbogast 2-1B, 2 RBI; Dryfuse 2B, 1B, 2 RBI; Halcomb 2-1B, RBI; Reinhart 2B, 3 RBI.
records: Lakota 11-10; New Riegel 19-5.
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