Edison senior Austin Utter certainly showed why he is among the area’s top players Thursday afternoon in a Division III district semifinal against Bucyrus Wynford at Heidelberg University’s Peaceful Valley Complex.
Utter — the District 9 Player of the Year — scattered seven hits, struck out 10, picked three batters off first base, and hit a tape measure home run as the Chargers (19-7) turned back the Royals (15-8) by an 8-1 score.
Edison — ranked No. 11 in the state coaches poll — faces No. 25 Huron (19-7) in a third meeting between the two Sandusky Bay Conference rivals in Saturday’s 2 p.m. district championship game back at Heidelberg. Huron posted a 6-0 win on May 6, while the Chargers came back seven days later with a 6-3 win to split the season series.
Wynford actually scored first in the game, getting its lone run in the third thanks to a two-out single by Gabe Roe. But after that, Utter was very stingy. He faced just one batter over the limit the rest of the way.
Utter tied the game with his tape-measure shot off Royals starter Alex Miller in the home half of the third. It was apparent Wynford Coach John Amicone had seen what kind of damage he could do with the bat, as he intentionally walked Utter the next two times up.
Edison scored three times in the fourth, using singles by Tyler Damante, and Owen Moyer, and a double off the bat of Adam Wolf. The Royals then ran into immediate trouble in the sixth when the Chargers sent eight to the plate, scoring four times.
Damante’s triple and singles by Chris Smith, Wolf and Clay Cooper all had a bearing on the rally. Damante had a triple and single, and Smith a double and a single to lead the Charger attack.
“Wynford hit the ball hard early,” Edison coach Sean Hoover said. “But Austin really aided his own cause by picking off three of those runners. Keeping runners off second base is critical. It took a while for us to square balls up, but once we did, we quickly closed that early 6-1 hitting deficit.
“Austin got us on the board with that shot to right and we rolled from there” he added. “We have not gotten a lot of breaks over the last three weeks, so maybe they are starting to come our way. Huron is going to be tough. We split with them during the regular season”
Has Utter ever hit a longer home run?
“It was a moon shot for sure,” the Ashland University-bound senior said. “I question whether I have ever hit one that far. We got a heck of team in that they somehow, some way we manage to make good things happen. This afternoon was no different”
And those three pick-offs?
“That little head-fake sometimes works” Utter added.
Wynford 001 000 0 — 1 7 0
Edison 000 134 x — 8 9 0
WP: Utter, LP: Miller 2B: (E) Wolf, Smith; 3B: (E) Demante; HR: (E) Utter