MASON – For a third consecutive year Greenville fell one win short of a berth in the state final four as Jonathan Alder hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday to defeat the Lady Wave 5-3.
Greenville had several opportunities in Saturday’s Ohio High School Athletic Association regional championship game but couldn’t convert enough of them.
“We left people on base,” Greenville coach Jerrod Newland said. “Jonathan Alder kicked our butt, and the better team won today. The better-coached team, better-playing team and the better team won. They’re moving on and hats off to them. Third straight year, been in the regional final eight of the last 11 years, and it’s extremely disappointing. Akron or bust, and it busted.”
Greenville had two outs in the bottom of the ninth when Kayla Fredendall cranked a 1-2 pitch over the right field wall to give the Jonathan Alder the victory and a spot in the state final four in Akron.
“Storybook for them, man,” Newland said. “It’s great stuff. It doesn’t get any better than a walk-off winner in extra innings. Unfortunately they made about every play out there on us, left field made a couple diving catches. They made great plays. Great ball team. Well coached team. You play the game three times somebody wins two, and unfortunately today wasn’t our day at all. Just very disappointing.”
Early on it appeared the story would turn out much better for Greenville as the Lady Wave quickly took a 2-0 lead in the top half of the first inning.
Morgan Gilbert led off the game with a triple off the center field wall and scored on a grounder by Karsyn Shaffer to put Greenville up 1-0.
Cassie Cromwell then reached base when her grounder careened off the glove of a Jonathan Alder infielder, and moments later she scored on a Makayla Hanes double that put Greenville ahead 2-0.
Greenville maintained its advantage until the third inning when Jonathan Alder scored three runs to take its first lead of the day.
Cierra Clark started the Jonathan Alder rally with a leadoff single.
Fredendall then drove a ball into right field. Greenville right fielder Lani Shilt had the ball in her glove but dropped it after slamming into the wall. An umpire initially called Fredendall out but altered his call as the ball rolled out of Shilt’s glove, causing confusion among the Pioneer base runners, which allowed Greenville to throw out Clark at second.
Newland protested that Fredendall had passed Clark on the base paths, which would have resulted in a double play, but the umpires stuck with their call that Clark was out on a force at second and Fredendall was safe at first.
“It’s just extremely disappointing that the game is sometimes decided between things that aren’t called,” Newland said.
The decision turned out to be a big one as Emily Walker singled to put two runners on base and Jillian Jakse cranked a three-run home run over the left field wall to put Jonathan Alder up 3-2.
Greenville, which hasn’t played from behind very often this season, was able to rebound and tie the game in the fifth inning.
Shaffer led off the inning with an infield single and Crowell doubled off the right field wall to put two runners in scoring position with no outs.
Hanes then drilled a pitch back up the middle off the pitcher’s glove, driving in Shaffer and knotting the score at 3-3. However, Jonathan Alder was able to quickly recover and threw out Cromwell at home and Hanes at second for a double play, greatly reducing the potential damage.
Over the course of the next three innings both teams missed opportunities to retake the lead with Greenville stranding five runners and Jonathan Alder stranding four. That all changed in the ninth inning, though.
Lindsey Potter led off the bottom of the ninth with a single and stole second. Greenville managed to retire the next two batters and was one strike away from forcing a 10th inning when Fredendall hit the game-winning home run.
“She had a great game, man, Newland said of his freshman pitcher Baylee Petry, whose five runs surrendered came on two pitches. “Kept us in it. If you had told me they would only score five runs I’d thought we would have beat them 15-5.”
Saturday’s loss ended Greenville’s season with a 28-4 record. The Lady Wave won the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division championship, an OHSAA sectional championship, an OHSAA district championship and finished as the regional runner-up. However, with the program’s high standards, Newland said, they Lady Wave expected even more.
“A lot of teams (would be) happy to get here,” he said. “It’s terrible because it’s disappointing. It’s just Akron or bust, and it’s busted.”
Newland thanked the Greenville fans who made the trip to Mason and filled the stadium.
“I personally apologize to the fans for falling short once again,” Newland said. “There is no better feeling when everyone is behind the kids. I would like to thank the community for everything throughout my 15 seasons leading the program.”
Greenville will honor its 2017 regional runner-up team at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Greenville High School cafeteria.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.