Prep baseball: Double plays keep H-L scoreless in district loss

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By ANDY WOLF

STAFF WRITER

CLYDE — If there was a word for it, Hopewell-Loudon coach Tony Swangan felt his team got “out-baseballed” by Ottawa Hills.

“Pitching, defense and timely hitting is a good formula when you get to the tournament,” said 38th-year Ottawa Hills coach Chris Hardman.

The Green Bears used that recipe again to deal the Chieftains a 4-0 loss in Wednesday’s Division IV district baseball semifinal at Clyde High School.

Swanagan prepared his team all week for the fundamental baseball he knew Ottawa Hills would play.

“I just told the kids I’m proud of the way they played,” Swanagan said. “We didn’t get any breaks but you make your own breaks here and there.

“It’s not lack of effort; it’s not lack of execution.”

Second-seeded Ottawa Hills (12-12) advanced to meet top-seeded Norwalk St. Paul in the district finals 5 p.m. Friday at Clyde.

Hopewell-Loudon is eliminated at 13-9.

Both starting pitchers went the distance.

Losing pitcher Zach Kreais kept the Chieftains in it by pitching six-hit ball with four walks and five strikeouts. Both of Hopewell-Loudon’s errors led to an unearned run.

“That’s the great thing with (Zach); you know what you’re going to get out of him,” Swanagan said. “You don’t expect him to walk kids but he’s the biggest competitor on the team.

“If you’re going to be in a bind, he’s the one you want out there. He’s going to battle for you.”

Winning pitcher Jack Werner pounded the strike zone to an already aggressive H-L lineup.

He scattered seven hits, walked one batter and struck out four as the Green Bears played stellar defense behind him.

Hopewell-Loudon recorded a hit in every inning but the sixth off Werner — all singles. Seven players accounted for their seven singles.

Werner not only helped create runs for his own cause, but eliminated threats in the process.

In the top of the second inning, he fired over to first base to pick off Connor Roush and end H-L’s threat with two runners on.

Werner reached on a successful bunt attempt in the bottom half with Tim Reiter advancing to third base as H-L shortstop Ethan Oswalt’s throw sailed high of Ethan Sendelbach at first.

One batter later, Jack Bassett laced an RBI single for the game’s first run.

Hopewell-Loudon looked ready to respond with runners on second and third and one out in the third inning.

However, Cody Balliet’s shot to first baseman Ben Werner snuffed out the threat with Jaret Nelson getting doubled off first.

Ironically, the Chieftain’s fourth-inning rally ended the same way.

Bailey Breidenbach led off with a single and advanced to second via Oswalt’s bunt.

But Travis Milligan lined out sharply to shortstop Hunter Hesse who quickly threw to second to double up Breidenbach.

“Hopewell, they did a lot of good things,” Hardman said. “It just didn’t materialize for them into a win. They didn’t do anything to beat themselves and we did enough to win.”

Kreais pitched out of jams in the third and fourth innings to strand a runner in scoring position but walked the bases loaded in the fifth with command issues.

He nearly got out unscathed, but Jack Werner’s two-out, two-run single to left opened up the game at 3-0 for Ottawa Hills.

Ben Werner tacked on the final run in the sixth inning via an RBI single to score Michael McGee.

McGee reached when Hopewell-Loudon second baseman Derek Foos lost a pop-up in the sun, only to have it drop right in front of him.

Kreais balked McGee over to second base before the batting order turned over to Ben Werner in the leadoff spot.

“I know it makes our kids feel better, so consequently it makes our kids feel better,” Hardman said. “Did I think 1-0 would be enough? Not necessarily. They hit two line drives right at us that we convert to double plays.

“Who would’ve thought that would’ve happened? And then the pickoff — three straight innings that ended rather oddly. It’s baseball. You’re going to have to be lucky to answer in the tournament.”

Hopewell-Loudon 000 000 0 — 0 7 2

Ottawa Hills 010 021 x — 4 6 0

WP — J. Werner. LP — Kreais. top hitters: (H-L) Nelson, Balliet, Breidenbach, Milligan, Burns, Roush, Foos 1B. (OH) B. Werner 1B, RBI; Helgren 2B; J. Werner 1B, 2 RBI; .

records: Ottawa Hills 12-12, Hopewell-Loudon 13-9.

Wolf: 419-427-8496,

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