Scores Broadcast: Fort Loramie, Lehman collide in sectional play on Wednesday

Just a few timely hits along with some key plays, especially the more routine ones, add up in a hurry and decide high school baseball games.

On Wednesday at 4:25 p.m., offers play-by-play of the Lehman Catholic/Fort Loramie tournament contest which features a couple clubs the free online service covered in the last week.

And “plays,” these teams made and their opponents did not, helped lead both the Redskins, 19-5, and Cavaliers, 11-10, to victory.

On May 9, Lehman threw out a Houston runner attempting to swipe second base, caught a Wildcat trying to advance to third on an infield ground ball, nailed a runner at the plate on a fine throw from the outfield, and turned a snappy 6-4-3 double play. For good measure, Lehman executed three sacrifice bunts and flies.

Catcher Hayden Sever cracked three of Lehman’s dozen hits and stole four of the 10 bases his club swiped over seven innings.

Houston performed important plays, as well, but not as many as Lehman. Reagan Steiner ripped a two-out, two-run triple to right. And a Houston baserunner at the plate alertly sidestepped a catcher’s tag.

In the end, the Wildcats’ bid to come all the way back from a 5-0 deficit fell short when they got the tying run to second in the fifth inning but were denied on a very close “out” call at home. Lehman broke the game open with a four-spot in the seventh.

One-half of the Lehman runs were classified as “unearned runs” resulting from untimely Houston fielding mistakes that led directly or indirectly to Lehman padding its mid-game 5-4 edge. The Cavaliers first two hitters of the contest worked “free passes,” or bases on balls, and promptly scored.

Those “free” bases can come in a variety of ways in the game of high school baseball. Call ‘em what you want… “Freebies,” “90’s,” or, how about, “Gift-wrapped Bags.” One area high school team several years ago had t-shirts made with the following printed on the back: “No Free 90’s.”

Last Thursday, Fort Loramie benefited from a pair of Russia overthrows just seconds apart in the same inning during a 4-1 triumph on the Raiders’ diamond. Four total errors by the home club helped pave the way to the Redskins’ victory, clinching the outright Shelby County Athletic League championship.

Often this spring, the winning team has produced several less base hits, but allowed fewer walks and played an error-free game. The little things add up fast!

In late April, the Redskins found out how quickly the game can turn against you. In a stretch of 15 pitches or so in the eighth inning versus St. Henry, three blunders— including a couple poor throws and a mishandled throw— led to a one-run setback at home.

During this contest, Fort Loramie squandered a 4-0 lead, that was built, in part, by walk after walk by the St. Henry starting pitcher.

Oh, those “free” bases.

Lehman may give the favored top seed Fort Loramie all it can handle on Wednesday. The Cavaliers make a habit of acquiring “free 90’s.” They have swiped close to 75 bases on the year.

But you have to reach first, first. The overall team batting average is under .280. Freshman Turner Lachey leads the way at .460. Sever and junior Seth Kennedy are hitting at clips over .325.

The Lehman pitching combo of sophomore Korban Schmiesing and senior David Brunner often stifles opposing hitters. The duo has fanned nearly 70 in about as many innings.

Meanwhile, the Redskins feature a pair of starting hurlers who sport earned run averages well under two. Righthander Maverick Grudich and lefty Christian McGee don’t give up many base hits — on average about one every two innings. Grudich and McGee allowed Russia only seven base knocks in two full games.

The Redskins steal half as many bases as Lehman but hit over.300 as a team. Max Cotner is right around .400; Dylan Sanders is just below this mark.

Having beaten Russia twice in SCAL action, coach Jeff Sanders’ club is poised to make another deep tourney run. The Redskins played a stout schedule which included seven contests against Midwest Athletic Conference foes. Lehman competes in the Three Rivers Conference and finished next to last in league play, but dropped seven heartbreakers by one run along the way.

Keep your eye out for those gift-wrapped runs, especially in tournament play, when one small miscue can lead to a huge loss and a quick tourney exit.

Mark Brunswick, Lehman’s first-year head coach, became familiar with the importance of executing the “small things” in baseball while growing up with dad, the legendary coach Lou Brunswick, who built the foundation of success in the baseball program at Coldwater.

Lou coached the club to its first of seven state titles in 1983 when son Mark pitched 11 innings in the state semifinal and final, and won both games on the mound. The squad defeated eight straight tourney opponents, including three by shut out and the final three by a difference of 28 runs.

But, wow! Coldwater might have been ousted on day one of the sectional that year had it not been for the “ultimate free 90,” an LCC balk that sent home the decisive Cavs run from third in a dramatic, 2-1, last inning victory.

Coldwater survived that day, gained momentum, and steamrolled to the championship.

One little “free base” helped make it all happen.