A healthy dose of local squads will look to take a crack at wiggling out of a Defiance District over the next two weeks.
An undefeated Lake squad will be the major hurdle for the area contingent. Local teams will not have to deal with the 22-0 and top-seeded Flyers until next week at Defiance, with Lake playing the winner from today’s Eastwood/Cardinal Stritch contest on Friday.
Fresh off their first NWC title in 27 years, Paulding will partake in the Elida District. The Panthers await the victor from today’s Lima Bath/Ottawa-Glandorf tussle. Paulding will host the winner on Friday.
The Panthers would see No. 2 seed Liberty-Benton next week in Thursday’s district semifinal if both survive this week.
Meanwhile, the upper part of the Elida District bracket is powered by top seed Coldwater.
Fairview, seeded fourth in the 13-team Defiance District, is the favorite to see Lake next week, but the Apaches first must win two games. Fairview is in action today at home against invading Rossford. The victor will play the Genoa/Evergreen winner from today on Friday.
“Having a sectional/district with teams from Toledo allows us to play someone that we aren’t familiar with,” said Fairview mentor Andy Singer. “This can be more of a challenge because of that very reason but the bottom line is you have to win to move on. We have been doing a good job of making plays defensively and putting runs on the board. Our pitchers have been throwing strikes so as long as we put it all together, we should be competitive.”
Also today, Liberty Center (7 seed) will be at home against Northwood (11 seed) with the winner moving on to play at second-seeded Archbold on Friday.
“This is a really tough district,” expressed LC coach Ryan Zeiter. “I think any of the top five teams are capable of making a run. There are four teams from the NWOAL and hopefully one of them can make a run.
“I think we’re playing good baseball,” added Zeiter. “It’s hard to determine how you’re playing with the way the weather has been. Every other game has been washed out. You’re inside multiple times per week and it’s hard to get outside. Kids get a little discouraged hitting in the cages all the time; they like to be outside.”
Dick Selgo’s Bluestreaks have lost just twice this season, a 4-0 setback to Fairview in the second game of the season and 9-8 to Division II power Bowling Green. Archbold has won 11 straight since the loss to the Bobcats.
“We’ve been pretty consistent all year,” remarked Selgo. “I’m hoping that will continue as we go into some really big games.”
Archbold has had little trouble putting runs on the board, led by Cory Erbskorn’s stellar hitting. Erbskorn has hovered around the .500 mark all season while Jeron Williams (.460) and Kade Kern — an Ohio State commit are also well over the .400 plateau. Travis Zeigler and Kreighton Sims are also hitting over .400.
“It’s been a combination of everything,” said Selgo of the keys to his squad’s season. “I was hoping we’d have a lot of balance this year in pitching, defense and hitting. That’s been very true; all three of those areas have been very consistent for us. I guess the thing that’s surprised me the most is how well we’ve hit.
“So many guys have contributed,” added Selgo. “It’s up and down our lineup. We’ve got guys hitting ninth this year that are hitting over .300. I’ve never had that in my coaching career. It’s tough to make a lineup every day when you’ve got so many guys contributing.”
Led by ace Rigo Ramos, the Streaks are also potent from the mound. The southpaw is approaching 100 strikeouts in just 46 innings while Ethan Hagans and Aiden Warncke are unbeaten on the hill.
“We’ve really been fortunate, we’ve had three starters pretty much the whole season,” said Selgo. “Rigo is our horse and he’s had an incredible year. He’s been backed up by a couple guys: Aiden Warncke and Ethan Hagans. They’ve also come through for us. Then we have TJ Rice and Jeron Williams out of the bullpen. We’ve really had some good balance and also hoping to get a little bit more from Cory also.”
The other game today features No. 13 Delta at No. 6 Otsego.
While Fairview hopes to get a shot at Lake next week, Archbold and Tinora (No. 3 seed) are the favored clubs to meet in the other district semifinal from the bottom half of the sectional bracket.
Tinora will be home Friday against the Otsego/Delta winner. Otsego took a twinbill from the Panthers earlier this season.
“Very, very good I believe,” said Tinora skipper Brent Renollet of the district field. “I looked at the PBR (Prep Baseball Report) rankings and Lake’s one and Archbold’s two in the state. You don’t get any better than that with your number one and number two seeds.”
However, the Rams aren’t rolling into the postseason, according to Renollet.
“Quite honestly, not very well,” admitted Renollet of the Rams’ play of late. “We’re still pitching pretty well and playing pretty good defense, but we’re not hitting as well as we did early in the year.
“I think it’s that we haven’t had the consistency of playing games, that’s a lot of it with the wind, rain and cold,” added Renollet. “It’s May and it’s still 40 degrees. That’s got a lot to do with it but a lot of other teams have that as well.”
Tinora features a talented pitching staff, led by ace Spencer Giesige.
“Spencer has pitched well, Tye Norden has pitched really well and Andrew Imthurn has pitched well,” stated Renollet. “Our top three have pitched well and I think our defense has played pretty well the entire year. We’ve got to continue working on scoring some runs. We get back to where we were early in the year, I think we’ll do fine.”
The four teams advancing from this week’s action will converge on Defiance next week. Next Thursday will feature a district twinbill at 4 p.m. and approximately 6 p.m. The district championship is slated for a noon first pitch on May 25.