The Ohio Longhorns 18U club fell to Ohio Independence, 7-6, in the Worthington Wood Bat Tournament Final on Sunday afternoon.
The game ended in bizarre fashion, as the game-winning run scored on a throwing error and Ohio Independence finished off an impressive comeback, scoring six unanswered runs in the final three innings.
The comeback started in the bottom of the fifth, when OI plated four runs by piecing together some bloop singles.
“We just had a bad inning,” Longhorns coach Jerry DeMarino said after the loss.
“They had a couple bloop hits that fell and we weren’t there. They just kept putting the bat on the ball, putting pressure on us and they just kept making plays. I think we pitched well and were hitting our spots, but they just took advantage and found grass where we weren’t there.”
Although the end result didn’t go the way the Longhorns would have liked, it was an impressive weekend to say the least and there were plenty of positives to take away from Columbus.
For starters, the Longhorns went 7-1 in the tournament, improving to 17-3 overall. Winning seven of eight games is no small feat, especially considering the level of competition at this tournament.
Sunday morning’s 4-2 semifinal win over the Triple Crown Royals was a total team effort, which featured timely hitting, great defense and stellar pitching.
Catcher Luke Correia, a Mercyhurst commit gunned down all three runners who attempted to steal on him.
Third baseman and Wittenberg commit David Hamrick made some impressive plays at the hot corner, including a diving catch in foul territory and several times (in both games) where he made the not-so-easy plays look routine.
Starting pitcher Dean Gray worked 6.1 innings and bounced back after a rocky start to the game.
Gray allowed two runs in the first, but held the Royals scoreless the rest of the way, until Eric Schilling came into relieve him in the seventh.
Schilling was lockdown for 2.2 innings and also plated a pair of big hits in the game.
His day was far from over.
A few short hours later, the power hitting first baseman crushed a grand slam to left field in the championship game, which made it 6-1 in the top of the fifth.
“Schilling’s unbelievable,” DeMarino said.
“He’s surprisingly still uncommitted. He pitched well in the first game and then gets the grand slam in the final. The kid is big time. Nothing fazes him.”
Other notable performances included Andrew McFadden’s two-hit game in the championship and right handed pitcher Zach Straley’s great start to the game, as he held Ohio Independence to only one run in the first four innings, and fell victim to some well-placed bloop singles in the fifth.
It took a weekend of complementary baseball featuring other big time performances from the Longhorns’ deep roster to reach the final in the first place and DeMarino was proud of the way his team performed.
“We played a lot of good teams in this seven-game win-streak,” the coach said.
“We lost to a great team today. We’re not hanging our heads over anything.”