Then Thursday’s third inning happened. What seemed would be a rather routine 1-2-3 inning for Caden Cooper on the mound against a four-loss Gibsonburg team in the Division III district semifinals, suddenly turned disastrous in a hurry.
Instead of having three outs, Cooper instead faced a bases-loaded jam with a single out after hitting the Golden Bears’ Tyler Pelish on the arm. A dropped fly ball in left then allowed two of the runners to score, then back-to-back two outs singles scored three more runs, which were more than enough for Gibsonburg ace Fred Sisco. Fisco struck out 14 Edison hitters as the Golden Bears took advantage of seven Charger errors to earn an 8-3 win.
Gibsonburg (18-4) will face Upper Sandusky — an 11-2 winner over Oak Harbor earlier in the day — in a district final at noon Saturday back at Shelby High School.
“We couldn’t get out of our own way today,” Hoover said. “We didn’t keep our composure real well and one or two mistakes suddenly turned into five or six. It’s too long of a game to let a couple mistakes snowball like that.
“If we hold (Gibsonburg) to two or three runs that inning, we’re still right there. And we had guys at third in every inning, but one. You get to this spot and the two things you have to do are play defense and get clutch hits. We didn’t do either early in the game.”
For the game, the Chargers were 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position, which included having runners at second and third in both the first and third innings, and getting nothing to show for their efforts.
“In those situations where I get in jams, I just have to be more aggressive and locate my fastball,” said Sisco, who gave up a single earned run on four hits. “I can’t let any little dribblers knock in a couple runs.”
Sisco struck out the sides in both the second and sixth innings.
Up 5-0 after batting around in the third thanks to three Edison errors, the Golden Bears continued to add on to score when three outs should have already been recorded in the fourth. But a misthrow to second on a fielder’s choice ball and poor defensive play on another fielder’s choice at third a batter later, left the bases loaded. Cole Witte made it 6-0 with a sacrifice fly to to center before Gabe Mendoza made it 7-0 with a single to left field.
“There was definitely a big energy change from the beginning,” Sisco said. “Beginning of the game, both teams were energetic, and probably by the third of fourth inning, we had all the energy.”
The Chargers continued to struggle at the plate, grounding out with a runner at third to end the fourth. They finally broke through in the fifth when Austin Kuluris singled through the left side with one out, followed by another base hit by Jadon Hanson to move Kuluris to third after he stole second. Two hitters later, Caleb Bissell’s hit to center was dropped, allowing both Kuluris and Hanson to come home to cut the deficit to 7-2.
“I liked the way our guys battled at the plate,” Hoover said. “(Sisco) may be the best pitcher we’ve faced in a long time, and he’s got three pitches he throws for strikes, and he throws hard. But we battled, we fouled some balls off … we really tried to make him work. We got him to his pitch count, so we played the long game at the plate, just didn’t get some balls in holes with guys in scoring position.”
Cooper went five innings, tallying eight strikeouts. None of the seven runs against him were earned.
Thomas Simon pitched the final two innings, giving up a single run on two hits with three strikeouts.
“Overall, I couldn’t be any more prouder of this group for the way they came out and battled,” Hoover said. “To end the season 17-8 and to go out there and be right in the thick of the Sandusky Bay Conference race all season, these guys really stepped up.
“It seems every year, we graduate some pretty good talent and the younger guys just keep stepping up. I can’t say enough about our seniors, they came in and put in a lot of extra time in the winter. The top of our order battled (Sisco) well and had three or four hits off of him there. And they’ve been like that all year.
“We have some good young arms coming back, and hopefully they can learn from a day like this,” Hoover continued. “We have a lot to be hopeful for moving ahead.”
Gibsonburg 005 201 0 — 8 6 7
Edison 000 020 1 — 3 5 2
WP: Fred Sisco; LP: Caden Cooper.
TRACK AND FIELD
Edison relay advances to state
LEXINGTON — The Edison boys track and field team’s 4x800-meter relay is again headed back to the state championships.
The quartet of Daniel Lambert, Jon Hrivnak, Cole Weilnau and Tyler Coon placed second in a time of 8:03.94 at Thursday’s Division II regional meet at Lexington to advance.
Also from the area, Bellevue’s Austin Thompson was second in the pole vault at 14-feet-8-inches to also advance to Columbus next week.