Edison rallies, holds off Wynford to advance

·7 min read

May 26—NORWALK — The feeling was hard to shake.

For nearly six innings, the state-ranked Edison baseball team wasn't rewarded in the batter's box.

And it wasn't for lack of opportunity.

The Chargers had heavy traffic throughout Thursday's Division III district semifinal vs. Bucyrus Wynford. But entering the bottom of the sixth inning, Edison trailed 3-1.

"They made great plays in the field," Edison head coach Sean Hoover said of the Royals. "We were trying not to get frustrated, because that's just baseball. You can go out and crush the ball and the other team can barely touch it, and they can get on base and you don't.

"You can't let that get to you ... you have to go play your game."

In the sixth inning, the Chargers did just that. Three consecutive extra-base hits tied the game, and three more hits followed as Edison scored seven runs in the frame — then held on in the top of the seventh for an 8-6 victory at Norwalk High School.

With the win, Edison — ranked No. 10 in the final state coaches poll — improved to 20-8 overall. The No. 2-seed Chargers advance to a third meeting with SBC rival and No. 1 Margaretta (20-6) at 2 p.m. Saturday in the district title game back at NHS.

Hayden Fry led off the sixth with a triple, and quickly scored on an RBI double to left by Noah Smith to cut the deficit to 3-2. Brady Barker then followed with an RBI triple to left-center that scored pinch runner Aiden Drake to tie the game at 3-3.

"There was two great hits before me, and we knew throughout the game they were throwing a lot of first-pitch fastballs," Barker said. "We went with the mindset to jump on the first pitch, and I did.

"I saw the left fielder come in just a bit, and I knew I didn't hit it that shallow," he added. "It was going to be over his head and I had my eyes on three."

Max Hoover followed with an infield single, as Wynford's pitcher was holding up Barker at third, allowing him to reach first base. But then Bryce Michaelis ended a seven-pitch at-bat when he lined a 3-2 pitch to centerfield for an RBI double to give Edison its first lead of the game at 4-3.

Earlier in the game, the Chargers had bases loaded and just one out in the bottom of the second inning with a 2-0 deficit. But Michaelis flied out on the infield and Xander Danner lined out to third, and the Chargers didn't score.

"In the second inning, I didn't get my job done," Michaelis said. "I needed a spot to redeem myself, and I was able to hit a long deep fly with two strikes on me. It kind of snowballed from there for us."

Danner followed with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Luke Blatnik, who pinch ran for Max Hoover. Thomas Simon then hit a hard ground ball to the pitcher that was mishandled, allowing Michaelis to score fo ra 6-3 lead.

With Hayden Fox running for Simon at second base, Clint Finnen singled him in to right for a 7-3 lead. Finnen later scored on a wild pitch to give Edison an 8-3 lead.

"One thing we talked with Wynford, we thought their pitchers were around the plate and started with fastballs early in the count," Sean Hoover said. "We told our guys to be aggressive early. If they see their pitch, go after it.

"They didn't get through early in the game, especially in that second inning, but we hit balls hard. We kept the same approach. Law of averages said they have to drop in some time — and they did."

As it played out, the Chargers needed every bit of the seven-run outburst.

Ben Bates came on to start the seventh for Edison in relief of Simon, who started and settled in to give six strong innings.

Wynford's Kaiden Blair opened with a single, then Kendall Blair and Spencer Miller reached on consecutive errors to bring in a run. Bates then hit a batter, and an RBI single suddenly had the Royals (20-6) within 8-5 with the bases loaded and still just one out.

But Bates got a huge strikeout for the second out. After an RBI single cut the lead to 8-6, Bates again struck out the final batter of the game looking on a 3-2 pitch to leave the bases loaded — and advance the Chargers back to the title game.

"In the last inning, we preach to our guys that you can't get down," Sean Hoover said. "If they hold us to four there the inning before, it's a whole different game. I think we've lost four games where we've given up four-plus runs in the seventh inning.

"We dropped our heads in those moments," he added. "But our guys battled through these kind of tournament games last year, and I think that experience paid off here today."

It didn't look great after two innings and 48 pitches, but Simon settled in for the Chargers and kept them in the game. He threw 101 pitches in six innings and allowed the three earned runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and no walks.

"He did, he really settled in," Sean Hoover said of his starter. "He gutted it out after spraining his ankle last Friday. He was in a boot up until today, came out and pitched, and will probably be back in a boot tomorrow.

"He really shut them down in those middle innings and he gave us six strong. Ben is a young kid and maybe had a little nerves. But he throws hard, and it took a while to find the zone there — but he got the key pitches when he needed to."

After stranding two runners in the first, the Royals scored twice in the top of the second. Simon hit a batter, then yielded a single and a triple that plated two runs.

After not scoring in the second, Edison cut the lead in half in the third. Finnen singled and scored on an RBY double by Fry to make it a 2-1 game.

Three straight one-out singles by the Royals in the fifth loaded the bases, then a sacrifice fly to left allowed them to extend the lead to 3-1. Simon got a fly ball out to right to get out of the jam.

"Who we played and the length of games we played this season has helped us," Barker said of the late deficit. "We played Norwalk for 11 innings on a Saturday ... I think those kind of games seasoned us and made us more comfortable in this environment.

"Even last year we have experience being down late in games," he added. "We're able to stay focused on the task at hand."

During the regular season, the Chargers beat the Polar Bears in both meetings to win the SBC Bay Division championship outright. They won 7-0 in a rain-shortened game on May 5 in Castalia, then claimed a 7-4 victory on May 12 in Milan.

Now, the third meeting in 23 days is for a spot in the Sweet 16 field in Div. III.

"We have a history obviously," Barker said. "This is totally different then the last two games. They'll come out swinging for a district title, and so will we."

Hoover noted it will be a seventh meeting between the two league foes since last season.

"We know what they're going to bring to the table, and it's hard to beat a team like that three times," he said. "We're really familiar with each other. It will come down to whoever can execute the best."

Wynford 020 010 3 — 6 10 1

Edison 001 007 x — 8 11 2

WP: Simon; LP: Mcguire

2B: (E) Michaelis, Fry, N. Smith; 3B: (B) Blair; (E) Fry, Barker