Baseball: Russia loses heartbreaker to Berlin Hiland in state semi


AKRON Russia’s third straight Division IV state appearance ended in a loss in a semifinal on Saturday at Canal Park, but coach Kevin Phlipot said it doesn’t detract from a stellar season and a stellar run by the squad’s seven seniors.

Russia ace Braylon Cordonnier had a perfect game going after five innings, but Hiland scored two runs on two hits and two walks in the sixth, then retired Russia in order in the seventh to win 2-0.

“I’m incredibly happy with, proud of the performance,” Phlipot said. “We played well enough to win. That’s for certain. (Five) no hit innings, Braylon. I mean, that performance was outstanding.

“We hit the ball hard all day. We just couldn’t find a chance. Froze some in scoring position. We got to second base, but then those guys shut us out.”

Cordonnier, a junior, had retired every Hiland batter he faced before walking Connor Beachy with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Wyatt Miller hit into a fielder’s choice, and Beachy was thrown out at second.

Caden Coblentz hit a single on a fly to center field, and Phlipot then paid a visit to the mound.

Cody Yoder, who had a .478 batting average, hit a double on a fly to center field on the first pitch he saw, which drove in two runs.

Jude Counts and Zeb Schulze hit infield groundouts, and Coblentz then struck out Ben Rinderle to end it.

Russia finishes 27-5 overall. The Raiders won 104 games over the last four years, advanced to regional finals each of the last four years and won regional titles each of the last three.

Phlipot said the squad has much to be proud of, including its 2022 D-IV title.

“I told them to just be proud of your performance, don’t judge yourself today,” Phlipot said. “There’s nothing to hang your head about today. Nobody did anything bad today. I said play with no regrets, and there’s nothing to regret with their performances.

“This is baseball, and we didn’t get the hit when we needed to. I mean, we had great at-bats. We battled. Great defense at first base by Jude Counts. Did an outstanding job. A couple of hard balls. We ran balls down in center field. Felix Francis, outstanding. We just gave up two hits, and two hits cost us.”

Russia will lose seven seniors to graduation: Francis, Counts, Rinderle, Brayden Monnin, Hayden Quinter, Adam Hoehne and Matteo Morelli.

With one out in the second inning, Counts hit a single to third and went to second base on an error on the throw. He moved to third on a wild pitch, but the next two batters struck out to end it.

Monnin hit a single on a bunt with one out in the fourth and Quinter then hit a hard line drive, but right fielder Colin Coblentz caught it on the run and threw back in, and Monnin was tagged out on his way back to first base.

Russia’s best chance came in the top of the sixth. Micah Grieshop hit a single to left field and Francis hit a bunt single, but Cordonnier hit a fly out in foul territory, then Monnin and Quinter struck out.

Caden Coblentz gave up five hits in seven innings. He struck out nine batters without walking any.

“I said to hunt the fastball, and we knew he’s going to throw hard,” Phlipot said. “I mean, he was up and down, upper 80s. And then sat at 83, 84; we’re confident we can handle that. And we did.

“But he beat a few guys and mixed it up. We had some chances. Hayden hit the ball hard twice, deep to left and that double out on that ball to right. I thought that (hit to right field) was over his head, that’s a run right there, and he’s on third base, and great things are happening. But their kid made a play, turn around, double play, and that kind of shut us out there.”

Cordonnier gave up two earned runs on two hits and two walks while striking out four.

“Two hits cost us. Braylon took it tough in the dugout there, and I told him don’t judge this, don’t take this away,” Phlipot said. “We didn’t help you. You kept us in this moment. He pitched his heart out.

“… Our offense is what cost us this game. Unable to be productive. We couldn’t do what (Hiland) did.”

Hiland (26-5), which beat Russia 14-4 in the D-IV final last year, will try for its second consecutive title on Sunday night when it faces upstart Fort Recovery in the D-IV state final.

Saturday’s semifinal was played in one hour and 15 minutes.

Reach Sidney Daily News editor Bryant Billing at 937-538-4822, or follow @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook or @TopBillingSport on X (Twitter).


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Bryant Billing has been at the Sidney Daily News since 2017. He took over as editor in April of 2024 after working as sports editor for the previous 6.5 years. He worked as a reporter and later as an editor for a weekly newspaper in Springfield from 2007 to 2012, managed a Springfield-based website called from 2012 to 2016 and then worked as a freelancer for Cox Media Group Ohio newspapers (including the Dayton Daily News) from 2016 to 2017 before joining the SDN.

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