Jun. 13—AKRON — Archbold’s hopes of a second state baseball championship were dashed Sunday in a 4-1 loss to Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in the Division III title game at Canal Park in Akron.
The young Blue Streaks (23-12), with only two seniors on their roster, were undone by one bad inning in the field, and the solid pitching of Eagles junior right-hander Cooper Robinson, who both started and finished strong.
“It was amazing from the start,” Robinson said of his title-game feel. “There was a little bit of a [58-minute rain] delay, so I got extra time to get ready. My fastball was working the best for sure, and then after that my slider.
“When we took the lead I was like ‘Attack, attack, attack.’ That’s the only thing that changed. In the seventh, for sure, that was 100 percent adrenaline.”
Robinson surrendered just two hits and struck out 11 Archbold batters to lift CHCA (23-8) to its first state championship. He fanned three of Archbold’s first four batters, and struck out the side in the seventh inning to clinch the title.
“He came out in that first inning and I said, ‘Uh-oh, we’re going to have to shut them out, or come close to it, to have a chance to win this game,’ ” Archbold coach Dick Selgo said of Robinson. “He didn’t seem to wilt at all in the heat. He just kept getting stronger as the game went on.
“We’ve faced a lot of guys that were pretty good this year, and he was a notch above that. He made it tough on us, no question. We’ve got to tip our hat to him.”
The Streaks had beaten the Eagles, 7-6, in the 2005 D-III semifinals en route to their state title that year. CHCA was state runner-up in 2014, and had reached another state semifinal in 2017.
“It was a fantastic season,” Selgo said. “I couldn’t be prouder of these kids just to battle all the way to the state championship game. We’ve been on a roll lately and having a blast, and I’m so proud of them.”
Christian Academy grabbed control of the game in the bottom of the second inning when it parlayed two walks, two hits, and two Archbold errors into four runs.
Johnathan Russell and Andrew Brock drew walks off of Blue Streaks junior starting pitcher DJ Newman to open the inning, and both runners moved up on Will Murphy’s sacrifice bunt.
Colin Ames hit a two-run double that one-hopped the fence in left-center, and Ty Yelton dropped a bloop single into right, then stole second.
Ames got caught in a rundown on a failed squeeze bunt play, but Archbold missed on a chance at the out when senior catcher Caleb Hogrefe’s throw was dropped by junior third baseman Zane Behnfeldt.
That error allowed Ames to score, and Yelton later scored with two outs when Blue Streaks center fielder Krayton Kern misplayed Jack Vogele’s line drive for another error to make it 4-0.
“We made a few errors that didn’t need to be made,” Newman said. “But, other than that, I just couldn’t find the strike zone for a while. I take the blame for that one.
“I usually attack the strike zone, which I was trying to do. It was a bad inning. I finally found it after that second inning, but it was a little too late after giving up four runs.”
Archbold got its lone run in the top of the fifth inning, when junior left fielder Gavin Bailey drew a one-out walk and later scored on freshman right fielder Jack Hurst’s double to the right-field corner.
The Streaks’ only other hit in the the game was Behnfeldt’s lead-off single in the third.
Outside of the rough second inning, Newman held the Eagles in check. He yielded just five hits and struck out eight in his six innings on the hill.
“DJ pitched a heck of a game, but uncharacteristically he walked a couple guys in that second inning,” Selgo said. “And, we made a couple errors, which we haven’t been doing for a long time.
“When you get behind four runs with a kid like Cooper Robinson on the mound, it’s tough ground to go back up. DJ worked hard, and he kept us in the game. He only gave up two earned runs. That’s not bad in a state championship game.”
Newman, the Northwest Ohio Athletic League player of the year and a first team Division III All-Ohioan, will be back to lead the Blue Streaks, and both he and his coach are optimistic looking forward.
“This season gave us a lot of confidence knowing next year we’re only losing two guys,” Newman said. “We want to be back here next year.”
Added Selgo: “As young as they are, and with as little varsity experience, to get to this championship game is such a tremendous accomplishment. Archbold baseball’s really been on a roll, from the little guys on up. We’ve got all but two of these guys back, so our future is pretty bright at this point.”
First Published June 13, 2021, 1:07pm