COLDWATER — For the second year in a row, the state ACME championship game came down to a local showcase featuring Bryan and Archbold.
And for the second year in a row, Bryan emerged as a state champion.
On Monday evening at Coldwater’s Veterans Field, the Golden Bears used the stout left arm of senior-to-be Dom James, a battery that cranked out 15 hits and four Archbold errors to secure a 10-1 victory for a second ACME state crown in as many years.
“It’s huge,” said Bryan head coach Doug Williamson. “With some of the seniors that we have, I wanted them to go out on top. I kept preaching to them all summer long, keep battling no matter what happens, which they did a great job of. We got down early in a couple games this year and they came back and they kept battling.”
There were no early bugs on Monday, as the Bears ripped the ball right out of the gate behind a Dom-inant performance from James.
The Bryan southpaw fanned his 10th batter with two away in the top of the seventh, sealing the win after allowing Archbold just two hits on the game while walking five.
“I’m excited. I’m speechless right now,” said James. “It’s crazy to think that this is my last summer with my friends, my family … my baseball team, you know. I’m just speechless about it. It’s an unbelievable moment to have right now to be able to go back-to-back.”
The Bears continuously hung runs in their first five at-bats, plating batters in three of those frames with two away.
Meanwhile, the Bluestreaks helped with crucial mistakes in the second, third and fourth innings that allowed Bryan to pile on the run support for James on the bump.
“We knew that they were going to be solid one-through-nine, we knew that they were gonna put the ball in play,” said Archbold mentor Kirk Weldy. “We had four big errors, and I’ll tell you a huge difference … they had huge two-out hits.
“We knew they were good,” said Weldy. “I could have circled the team to at least be in the finals before the tournament even started. We knew they were gonna be good, and they showed it.”
Topped by leadoff hitter Brooks Brown – who went 4-for-5 with four singles and three runs scored – the Bryan bats came up with at least a hit per frame, with the bottom of the sixth the lone half the Bears did not score a run or notch multiple hits.
While the quick-footed Brown crossed the dish in the first, fourth and fifth innings, catcher Nate Miller slapped a pair of singles and a triple to drive in three runs – two of which were scored by Brown.
“They’ve been doing it the whole tournament,” said Williamson of his lineup’s hitting power. “My leadoff hitter, that’s what I expect out of him. He’s not a guy that’s gonna get deep in the count. He’s a guy that’s gonna come out swinging, and that’s what I want and that’s what he did a great job of.”
Down 7-1 after four, the Streaks tacked on their lone run in the top of the fifth when a Noah Garcia single scored leadoff hitter DJ Newman from second. The Bears committed their only error of the game in that frame, which allowed Newman to remain on the base path en route to the score.
But Bryan retaliated quickly and with authority with a four-hit home half highlighted by Miller’s two-run triple and an ensuing RBI base rap by cleanup hitter Logan Clemens. Clemens’ RBI knock drove in Miller and capped off a three-run fifth that put the Bears in control, 10-1.
“The bats came out solid,” said Williamson. “When you get a lead on somebody, you’re putting the pressure on them and then they’ve got to try to come back. I thought we did a great job of that all weekend long.”
The Bluestreaks had their moments of hope in trying to match the Bryan battery, getting runners in scoring position in the top of the second and then leaving the board poised for more after pushing one across in the fifth.
But a James strikeout left the bases jammed the first time around before the Bryan lefty then got a pop-out to end the fifth with runners left on the corners.
“He’s got a lot of movement on his fastball, and I think he kind of sets up his curveball to kind of sneak that fastball by,” said Weldy of facing James. “He’s a lefty with pretty good speed, but his movement on his fastball’s good, his movement on his curveball’s coming the other way. He’s a competitor, and when he has his stuff like he did tonight … you try to put the ball in play, but it’s tough.”
Benny Roebuck and Trevor Ward each contributed a pair of singles while Noah Tressler chipped in a double to for Bryan, which finished its second consecutive state championship season with a sterling record of 27-2.
Archbold’s 17-8 finish comes in the wake of a second runner-up showing in as many years and was led by a single each from Garcia and two-hitter Brandon Taylor.
Archbold 000 010 0 — 1 2 4
Bryan 212 230 x — 10 15 1
Records: Bryan 27-2, Archbold 17-8.
Winning pitcher: Dom James (7 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 10 strikeouts, 5 walks, 1 hit batter).
Losing pitcher: Ethan Hagans (1 inning, 3 runs, 5 hits, 1 strikeout, 0 walks, 1 hit batter). Other: Brandon Tayler.
Leading hitters: (Bryan) – Brooks Brown 4 singles, 3 runs; Nate Miller 2 singles, triple, 3 RBIs; Benny Roebuck 2 singles; Noah Tressler double; Trevor Ward 2 singles.