COLDWATER – Greenville’s season ended with a 6-2 loss to Defiance in the quarterfinals of the ACME baseball state tournament on Saturday, but coach Atrayu Wolter said the season couldn’t have gone much better.
“It was a great summer,” Wolter said. “It was the best summer I’ve ever had with a group of kids. They did a great job. They grew up a lot this summer. Weren’t hanging their heads end of the year. Hitting did extremely well and defense and pitching all came along at the same time and it definitely helped power our run into the state tournament.”
Defiance entered the tournament as the three-time defending ACME state champion. The Bulldogs also won Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II state championships in 2013 and 2015 while Greenville entered the state tournament with a young roster led by Wolter and assistant coaches Dusty Hathaway and Storm Wolter.
Despite Greenville’s inexperience, the Wave still jumped out to an early lead on the Bulldogs.
In the bottom of the first Peter Pandy led off with a walk and advanced to second on a one-out Kyle Mills single. Tanner Ross then hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice, but an errant throw from short to first kept Defiance from turning the double plan and allowed Pandy to score, making it 1-0 in favor of Greenville.
Greenville pitcher Tyler Netzley ran into some trouble early in the game, but the Wave got through multiple jams unscathed.
Three walks loaded the bases in the top of the first, but Netzley got a strikeout to end the inning and leave the bases juiced.
An error, a single and a hit batter again loaded the bases for Defiance in the second, but Netzley induced a fly out that Brandon Beyke caught for the final out of the inning, again keeping the bases loaded.
After back-to-back 1-2-3 innings in the third and fourth, Greenville ran into trouble again in the top of the fifth.
Connor Stykemain started Defiance’s fifth inning rally with a leadoff single and then stole second base. Braden Frederick then laid down a bunt single and took second, giving Defiance a pair of base runners in scoring position with no outs.
Then a sacrifice fly by Shay Smiddy drove in Stykemain and tied the game at 1-1. Defiance took its first lead of the game with a RBI double by Bryce Borton and extended its lead to 3-1 with a RBI single by Jacob Jimenez.
The damage could have been much worse the inning, but Beyke ran down a pair of fly balls into center field to end the Bulldogs’ threat.
Greenville cut into the deficit in the bottom half of the inning. Chris Force led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on an errant pickoff attempt. Defiance’s Abram Smith set the next two Greenville batters down, but Pandy came through with a two-out single to score Force and make it a one-run game, 3-2.
That was as close as Greenville got, however, as Defiance added three more insurance runs in the seventh to pull away.
Smiddy led off the top of the seventh with a single and reached second on an interference call while caught in a rundown. Borton then hit a RBI double to drive in a run and make it 4-2.
After a bunt single by Jimenez put runners on the corners, Austin Taylor hit a sacrifice grounder to drive in another run and make it 5-2. Then Tino Ramirez put down a successful sac bunt to drive in one more run for the 6-2 final score.
Defiance finished the game with eight hits and two errors while Greenville had five hits and one error.
Pandy was 1-for-2 with two walks, a run and a RBI for Greenville. Force was 1-for-3 with a run scored. Beyke was 1-for-2 with a walk. A.J. Bowers and Mills also had hits.
“Obviously I wanted to get the win, but we were just a few plays short of helping keep that game within better reach,” Wolter said. “Didn’t quite find as many gaps hitting-wise. We were making contact just don’t always find the gaps. They did a great job of hitting the ball, pitching, great defensive team. They’ve always been a great program and they continue to show it.”
The loss ended the season for Greenville’s athletes, but Wolter thinks the success of this team will help the Wave as they go into their high school season next spring.
“I’m excited to see what these kids are going to do next spring,” Wolter said. “There’s a lot of young kids and few upperclassmen, returning seniors. I think this run to the state tournament … I’m really hoping it will kind of help jump-start them next spring. I don’t think the summer could have gone any better for them besides winning state.”