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Wildcats don't make it easy, but reach regional tournament

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:44 PM

PLYMOUTH No spectacular pitching performance like last year by Woodmore.

No first-baseman launching himself over the fence to pull a foul ball back into play.

Not Saturday when New London played the Suburban Lakes League team again in Plymouth in a Division III district baseball final.

There was enough suspense again without that other stuff, but this time the Wildcats persevered, winning 7-5 to advance to the Elida regional where they will play at 2 p.m. Thursday against Canton Central Catholic, which won the Creston district.

Just one rally by the Firelands Conference champions, a six-run uprising in the third inning, was all that it took when combined with a five-hit complete game by left-hander Taylor Held.

Two Woodmore pitchers, starter Corey Witker and relief pitcher Carey Hicks, did their part in keeping New London off the board in five of the seven innings, allowing 10 hits.

"We never make it easy on our self," New London coach Glen Morse said. "A spinning ground ball can't be handled. One bounces over Kyle Pelham's head. All of the sudden Taylor Held can't throw strikes. It all added up to a nail-biter in the sixth when they scored three times to make it very sticky in the end."

Just how close was Morse to turning to No. 1 hurler Derek Chaffins to close things out?

"He was warmed up. I'll say that much," Morse said. "I am sure a lot of people were wondering the same thing. The batting order was not conducive, however, to making a change unless it just had to be made."

It will be New London's second regional appearance, the first coming three years ago when this group were freshmen. Pelham is the only starter from that team.

Woodmore (17-8) jumped out on top by using the long ball. Senior center fielder Curtis Schlea rapped one over the fence in center in the second.

New London retaliated with its big rally, one that saw them send 11 to the plate.

Corey Murray, who celebrated his birthday with two hits, lashed a single to center to start the uprising. Nick Hamilton was then hit by a pitch. Pelham then bounced one off the fence in left to tie the game.

The musical chairs of base hits continued with Held, Scott Gregory, Paul Young and Murray, for a second time, rapping singles. Sometimes Morse threw the stop sign up at third. Sometimes not. That last single sent Witker to the showers. Hicks came on and got two huge outs, leaving the bases loaded.

That bases loaded situation did not look like a big deal until Woodmore rallied for a run in the fourth when Schlea doubled and scored on a throwing error. Eventually Cody Smith stood on third with no outs. He never moved, however. And that looked equally huge after Woodmore scored three times in the bottom of the sixth to draw to within 6-5.

The Wildcats put two in the top of the seventh when Young ripped a two-out single to give Held breathing room.

Held went back out in the final inning and got Witker on a line out to left and then struck out Charles Wooten. But, when Nick Hamilton was handcuffed by a ground ball, Cody Smith came to the plate as the tying run.

Held was up to the challenge, however, quickly getting ahead in the count and then giving Hamilton a chance to atone for his miscue with a pop fly down the right-field line. Hamilton made the play and the game was over.

Held and Young also had two hits.

"You have to be good to get this far but you also have to be lucky," Morse said. "Taylor got himself in trouble with five walks and that is alarming of late because he went 22 innings during the season without walking a batter.

"We'll go with Chaffins in the regional semi-final and go 'pitch by committee' in our final conference game on Wednesday at Western Reserve," the coach added. "I don't know that much about Canton CC other than they have a pitcher who is said to be headed for a Division I school."


N. London 006 000 1 7 10 3

Woodmore 010 103 0 5 5 1

WP: Held. LP: Witker.

HR: Schlea (W). 2B: Schlea (W), Pelham (NL).

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