Monday, June 10th, 2024

A magical season

Fort Recovery's state run ends with tough loss in title game

By Tom Haines
Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Fort Recovery players pose with the Division IV state runner-up trophy after Sunday night's 3-2 loss to Berlin Hiland at Canal Park in Akron. The Indians went from 9-11 before the tournament to finish 16-13 and reached the state championship game for the first time since 1953.

AKRON - Fort Recovery's magic ran out four outs short of a state championship.

Berlin Hiland got a two-out, two-run double in the sixth inning and shut the Indians down late, sending them to a 3-2 loss in the Division IV baseball state championship game at Canal Park in Akron on Sunday.

"Obviously we're disappointed," Fort Recovery coach Kevin Eyink said. "Not the outcome we wanted. But these guys played really hard. I can't be more proud of how they played and the effort they put in. We had a chance against a really good team, and again we showed we could play with anybody."

Fort Recovery's season ends at 16-13, with its first state runner-up finish since 1953.

Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Fort Recovery pitcher Caden Grisez stretches to get the ball during Sunday's state tournament final.

The Indians had been ahead the whole way when Hiland came up with the winning runs in the sixth. Colin Coblentz led off with a single and went to second on a bunt, putting the tying run in scoring position. Grisez walked Kaden Kandel, then induced a pop-up for the second out.

Sophomore Brady Monigold stepped in and slammed the first pitch over the head of Reece Evers, easily scoring both runners.

That allowed Hiland coach Chris Dages to bring in fireballer Brady Yoder from shortstop, replacing much-slower starter Finn Schneider.

Yoder struck out the first two batters in a 1-2-3 sixth, and after Grisez singled to right to lead off the second, he struck out Gavin Faller, got a flyout to center and a groundout to third to end the game.

"We always believed," Eyink said. "Always believed. We told them that all year long: 'You can do it. You can play with anybody.' And we did. We were right there. We had a chance."

Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Fort Recovery's Troy Homan starts his slide into third base during Sunday's state final against Berlin Hiland.

For the second straight game, Fort Recovery got on the board first. Troy Homan ripped a double to the left-center gap to open the bottom of the first inning, Reece Wendel singled through the left side to put him on third base, and Caden Homan chopped a grounder to second to bring in the first run.

Grisez then hit a shot down the third base line past a diving Caden Coblentz, scoring Reece Wendel, but was thrown out trying for second to end the inning.

The Indians worked out of jams early. Reece Wendel prevented the Hawks from getting a run or two in the top of the second with a full-extension diving catch in left-center to end the inning.

In the third, Troy Homan led off with another drive, this time down the right field line, but stumbled slightly around second base. Eyink threw up the stop sign, but Homan kept going to third and got thrown out.

Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Fort Recovery's Caden Grisez (left) and Riggs Tobe set up to catch a pop fly.

Fort Recovery didn't get another hit until the seventh, and the Hiland comeback started in the fourth, Sage Wendel threw wide of first and Brady Yoder raced home from second to cut the lead to one.

With the bats going silent, the Indians never got a chance to get the run back before Monigold put the Hawks ahead, putting an end to their hopes of going from 9-11 to state champions.

"Just (told them) to be proud of themselves," Eyink said of his message to the team. "Look at what they accomplished, look at what they did for the town and the baseball program. They made it just a little bit better."

Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Fort Recovery's Alex Dues completes the tag on Berlin Hiland's Caleb Coblentz while Sage Wendel (14) watches during Sunday's game. Coblentz was out on an attempted stolen base.


Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Fort Recovery's Alex Gaerke (44) celebrates after the Indians defeated Jeromesville Hillsdale 3-1 in the Division IV state baseball semifinal on Saturday at Canal Park in Akron. The Indians advance to the state final for the first time since 1953 Sunday night against Berlin Hiland.

Fort Recovery 3, Jeromesville Hillsdale 1

Alex Dues kept Hillsdale in check for seven innings and the Indian bats tagged pitcher Jack Fickes early.

Fort Recovery drew first blood after Alex Gaerke led off the second inning with a single to center and took second after the ball rolled through Gavin Casdorph's legs. When Gavin Faller swung through strike three for the second out, the ball got away, and Gaerke made it to third as Faller was thrown out at first.

That put him in position to scamper home when Reece Evers snuck a grounder past a diving Kael Lewis at short, scoring the game's first run.

Fort Recovery stranded two more runners, but got the bats out again in the third.

Troy Homan led off with a line drive that caromed off the first base bag into the right field corner, but while coach Eyink was frantically waving him around, he slid into second and settled for a double before the ball even got back to the infield.

"I thought it was going to be a close play at second, the way the ball down the line," Troy Homan said. "That was a mistake by me, I've got to be looking at my coach and I wasn't."

Troy Homan moved up on a pickoff error with one out, and when Caden Homan lofted a fly ball to shallow right-center, Eyink decided to send him home.

"I had a pretty good feeling it was going to be close," Eyink said. "But we were up a run, and I said, 'Troy, we're going for it. We're taking a chance here.' "

The throw beat him to the plate, but Homan got his hand under Braylen Jarvis' glove and screamed in celebration as the umpire called him safe.

Subscribe for $16/month

That was all the scoring for the Indians, who put a runner on third each of the next two innings and two on in the sixth before Fickes navigated out of the jams. But that was more than enough for Dues.

Dues struck out five, giving up six hits and two walks. Gaerke and Riggs Tobe had two hits apiece for Fort Recovery.

Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Fort Recovery pitcher Alex Dues pitched a complete-game six-hitter to lead the Indians to the Division IV state baseball championship game with a 3-1 win over Hillsdale in the state semifinals on Saturday.

Subscriber and paid stories on this date
The Fight Over Pride
CELINA - The Small Town Pride Festival came under fire during an Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee meeting in Columbus last Wednesday.
Five local elected officials, all Republicans, rallied around an anti-drag bill co-authored by State. Rep. Angie King, R-Celina.
The Fight Over Pride
CELINA - Small Town Pride President Kyle Bruce believes House Bill 245 targets drag performances, although its co-author, State Rep. Angie King, R-Celina, insists the pending legislation aims to protect children.
Standard Correspondent
ROSSBURG - Jonathan Davenport led all 100 laps of the Saturday night's 30th annual Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway and took another $100,030 back to Blairsville, Georgia, with him.
Compiled by Gary R. Rasberry
Grand Lake finished the first week of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League baseball season at 2-4 after losing two straight to Southern Ohio.
Fort Recovery defeats Hillsdale to advance to Division IV state baseball final
AKRON - Fort Recovery's Alex Dues kept Jeromesville Hillsdale in check for seven innings, the bats tagged pitcher Jack Fickes early and Troy Homan stole a run on the bases as the Indians won 3-1 in the Division IV baseball state semifinals at Canal Park in Akron on Saturday.