Big start leads Huron past New London

Tigers will face Edison for third time in district title game at 2 p.m. Saturday
Don Hohler
May 23, 2014
Huron jumped out to a 10-0 lead on Firelands Conference champion New London (21-7), but then had to resort to two relief pitchers in order to get out of Heidelberg University’s Peaceful Valley Complex with a 13-8 Division III district semifinal win.
 
Huron (19-7) will face Sandusky Bay Conference foe Edison (19-7) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Peaceful Valley for the district championship.

The Chargers — ranked No. 11 in the state coaches poll — beat Wynford 8-1 in the early game on Thursday. In the regular season, the two teams split. Huron (No. 25) won 6-0 against the Chargers on May 6, while Edison returned the favor 6-3 on May 13.

The Tigers used some key hits off New London starter Ben Young along with a number of gift errors — seven before it was over — to score five runs in the first, two in the second and three in the third.

But, getting the three outs to end the game via the 10-run rule proved difficult for Sam Hohler’s team.

“I certainly did not expect to get that kind of start on what I knew was a very good baseball team,” Hohler said. “New London errors kept all three of those early rallies alive”

The Tigers batted around in the first inning, cracking out five hits, four singles and a two-run double by Grant Ferrell. They showed the same kind of offense in the second, sending six to the plate. Tommy Bogden had the only hit, but two more errors aided the Huron cause.    

The Tigers chased Young in the third when they batted around a second time. Four hits sent Young to third base in favor of Nick Thomas. The latter threw shutout ball over the next three innings before Huron added three insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Hits by Andrew Dowell and Nick Mix were surrounded by two more errors and a balk.

New London broke through for two runs off right-hander Kyle Kovach, using hits by Nick Thomas, Young, Derek Phillips and Nate Thomas.

The Wildcats then chased Kovach in their four-run fourth. His relief, Sam Sluga, lasted just four batters before Hohler came out and got him in favor of Bogden. Nick Bene’s triple along with hits by Ryan Lane and D.J. Yates started the rally, and when Phillips and Nate Thomas sized up Sluga for singles, it was Bogden’s turn to try and quell the uprising. He did so with a double-play ball to end the thread. New London closed the margin to 10-8 in the sixth as Young doubled home one run, and Phillips’ sacrifice fly drove home the other. Huron got to a tiring Nick Thomas in the seventh, using hits by Dowell and Mix — and a perfect bunt by Sluga as the basis for three runs.

Huron finished with 14 hits, three by Kegan Bollenbacher and Dowell. Ferrell and Mix had two.

“The SBC toughens everyone up,” Hohler said. “Five teams made the district. Finishing second to a program like Perkins is acceptable. But, I expected that from this group. They showed the same kind of heart in both football and basketball”

The ‘Cats finished with 12 hits. Bene had a triple and double, Young a double and single while Nick and Nate Thomas had two hits as did Phillips who also drove in three runs.

“Our errors did us in,” New London coach Tony Hamilton said. “That has been the case all year. They came early enough in some games that we manxaged to pull out wins, but that was not the case today. We gave it a heck of a shot through in getting it as close as 10-8.

“This was a good group of seniors,” he added. “Maybe the school’s best as far as hitting and pitching”

It was the third straight year the New London program showed 20-plus wins.

Huron            523 000 3 — 13 14 1
New London 002 402 0 — 8 12 7

WP: Kovach; LP Young 2B: (H) Kovach, Ferrell; (NL) Young, Bene; 3B: (NL) Bene