AKRON — Archbold beat the odds to advance to the Division III state baseball final four, and ultimately one bad inning doomed them in the state championship Sunday where they fell 4-1 to Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy at Canal Park in Akron.
They reached the final with a 1-0 shutout of Canton Central Catholic on Friday.
However, despite the defeat in the title game, the 2021 Blue Streaks can hold their heads high as just the second team in program history to make it to state. And, with just two seniors on the team, they will aim to make a return trip to the big dance next year.
Archbold closes the season at 23-12.
“Fantastic season,” said head coach Dick Selgo. “Couldn’t be prouder of these kids. Just to battle all the way to the state championship game. We’ve been on a roll lately; they’ve been having a blast. And I’m so proud of them. As young as they are, and with as little varsity experience, to get to this state championship game, tremendous accomplishment by these guys.”
After the Streaks left a runner stranded in the away half of the second inning, the Eagles went to work in the bottom of the frame. Their first two batters reached with walks, then Will Murphy’s sacrifice bunt moved them up. Colin Ames followed with a two-run double that carried over the left fielder’s head to give CHCA a 2-0 lead.
A base hit by Ty Yelton put runners at the corners. The Eagles’ third run was unearned by way of a Blue Streak error. It appeared as if Ames was caught in a rundown between third and home, but during the play, a throw back to the third baseman was mishandled allowing Ames to safely make it home.
Then with two outs, Jack Vogele hit one on a line that was misplayed in center for a second error in the inning, scoring Murphy and putting the Eagle advantage at 4-0.
“DJ Newman pitched a heck of a game. Uncharacteristically, he walked a couple guys in that second inning. We made a couple errors, which we haven’t been doing for a long time, and then when you get behind four runs with a kid like Cooper Robinson on the mound, that’s tough ground to go back up,” stated Selgo.
Robinson only allowed four Blue Streak base runners the entire game. He gave up just two hits and a walk, striking out 11 over seven innings pitched.
Furthermore, he seemed to get stronger as the game went on, sending the Streaks down in order in the sixth and seventh.
“He came out that first inning and I said ‘uh oh,’ we’re gonna have to shut them out or come close to it to have a chance to win this game,” said Selgo of Robinson. “He didn’t seem to wilt at all in the heat. He just kept getting stronger as the game went on. We faced a lot of guys that were pretty good this year, he was a little bit a notch above that. He made it tough on us no question. We gotta tip our hat to him.”
Newman suffered the loss. He went six innings, getting tagged for four runs — just two that were earned — on five hits and eight strikeouts to a pair of walks.
Archbold scored its lone run in the top of the fifth. Gavin Bailey started the charge with a one-out walk and got to second on a wild pitch by Robinson. He was plated on Devon Morris’ two-out double that was crushed to deep right, trimming the deficit to 4-1.
However, Robinson did not make anymore mistakes. He retired the next seven batters he faced — including four by strikeout.
Seiler shuts down Crusaders
Archbold was led to the state final thanks to a brilliant performance from freshman pitcher Jayden Seiler in the semifinal win over Canton Central Catholic.
Although the Streaks committed an error on the first ball in play in the game, Seiler got the next batter to pop out to him and then fired over to first doubling off leadoff hitter Eric Baum. The Blue Streak hurler would wiggle out of some more situations on the day, and also have several shutdown innings while catapulting his team to victory and a berth in the state final.
“A tight game like that in a state semifinal. It doesn’t get much tighter. Thank goodness we had our freshman Jayden Seiler (who) came up with another gem (on the mound) in a big, big game. He just keeps doing that game-in and game-out. We really debated on who to pitch. In reality, it should have been an easy decision. Because both guys have pitched great — him and Newman. Either way we went was a win-win. And Jayden just, oh he pitched a beauty today,” exclaimed Selgo of Seiler’s outing.
The decision on who to start may have been a difficult one for Selgo, but it ended up working out. To his credit, Seiler was not flustered upon learning he was getting the nod.
“I was pretty ready. I knew I could do it. I was ready,” he said.
Seiler went the full seven innings, giving up just three hits and striking out six to one walk.
“It’s almost unbelievable for him to come up with that kind of a performance,” remarked Selgo. “Now, we’ve seen that progression take place during the course of the season. So now it’s to a point where we kind of expect it. I mean, it’s pretty hard to expect a three-hitter in the state semifinal game. A three-hit shutout, but, this guy’s been phenomenal.”
He was able to send the Crusaders down in order in four of the seven innings. One of those came in the seventh where he got them to go 1-2-3.
“A lot of sliders worked. (I) threw a lot of fastballs too for strikes, but mostly sliders,” Seiler said of how he was able to be effective.
Offensively, the Streaks mustered seven hits. They took the lead in the fifth. Krayton Kern recorded a one-out double, then after a pop out, Newman plated him with a base hit.
“I’m just begging that they don’t put him on and they didn’t, they pitched to him,” said Selgo of the Crusaders’ choice not to intentionally walk Newman, Archbold’s best hitter. “Boy I had a good feeling. This guy has come through all year long at the plate for us. And he did again in a big way.”
Newman finished 2 for 3 at the plate, as did Caleb Hogrefe. Kern went 1 for 3 with a run scored.
While in the past Archbold has had some disappointing ends to their seasons, they have nothing to hang their head about following this run. Upon punching their ticket to the state final after Friday’s win, Selgo noted the significance of the accomplishment — especially by such a young team.
“I don’t know if it gets any bigger than that being in a state championship game for a team as young as ours — with only two seniors, one kid with any varsity experience,” he said. “I’m just so thrilled for these guys that they have made this progress this year. They don’t seemed to be phased by it, they’re just playing and having fun.”
Selgo will attempt to get them back to the final four in 2022.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.