Doing just enough: Hillsdale defeats Mapleton by scoring any way possible

Ashland Times-Gazette

PARMA — The play was clearly emblematic of how Hillsdale was going to pull out a win on Tuesday.

It was the top of the fourth inning and the Division IV baseball district semifinal game between Ashland County schools Hillsdale and Mapleton was tied at 1-1 at Cuyahoga Community College.

More:Mapleton baseball player Tyson Welch voted Ashland County Athlete of the Week

With runners on the corner and one out, Hillsdale leadoff hitter Jack Fickes struck out swinging but at the same time Byron Bickel attempted to steal second base and gets caught in a rundown. While Mapleton infielders find themselves occupied trying to get Bickel out in a chasedown, Aiden Hoffman, who's on third base, gets a clear path to score at home plate before Bickel gets tagged out to end the inning. Because of that sequence, Hillsdale went up 2-1.

That summed up the third-seeded Falcons (16-10) 9-6 win over No. 12 seed Mapleton (11-9): Constructing runs in different ways.

Whether it was a sac fly with the bases loaded and one out by Braylen Jarvis in the third inning, or Brady Heller getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded that scored a run in the fifth inning, or Hoffman getting walked with the bases loaded in the same inning, or Fickes scoring from third base on a wild pitch in the sixth inning to give the Falcons a 6-5 lead.

Hillsdale's Braylen Jarvis had a team-high three RBIs in the Falcons win.

It wasn't always pretty but it got the job done. Because of that, the Falcons will have an opportunity to play for a district title against Ashtabula St. John School on Thursday.

"I think our team just finds a way," said Hillsdale right fielder Brady Heller. "Our guys are team-first guys. We don't really care how we do it."

"We try to move a lot of runners over," said Hillsdale head coach Jason Snow. "We haven't had the big sticks in the lineup consistently. We did get some big hits today but it was different guys. We moved a guy over with a bunt. We had a sac fly. I thought the key for us was when we were down 5-2, and if we don't score that inning, they got all the momentum going into the sixth. To get three runs that inning changed the ballgame."

Mapleton's Kollin Cline had a game-high four RBIs in the Mounties loss to Hillsdale.

That three-run fifth inning by the Falcons was jumpstarted by Heller, who was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded that cut Mapleton's lead to 5-3. Some would say even, taking one for the team.

"I didn't want to get out of the way. It was a free run," Heller said, who drove in one run in the game. "If I was going to take it, I was going to take one for the team. I know the others would have done the same thing."

Mapleton pitcher Tyson Welch (threw 84 pitches) was throwing it well through four innings, keeping the ball low with most of his pitches but he started to slow down. With that, Welch started walking more batters and Falcons batters began to be more patient, happy to take base after base as the game progressed.

Mapleton pitcher Tyson Welch.

A two-run double by Jarvis and RBI groundout by Hoffman in the sixth inning, gave Hillsdale a four-run cushion up 9-5 heading into the seventh and final inning.

"The last couple of innings he [Tyson Welch] pitched, he was struggling to locate his fastball," said Mapleton head coach Aaron Welch. "He was slowing down a little bit. He got fatigued a little."

"I think we were a little bit patient," said Snow, on Hillsdale getting back into the game, then retaking the lead. "I think they got a little tired. We got to the point where we were taking away the strike. Anything out of the zone, I thought our guys showed real patience. We found a way to win. It wasn't the best played game. We won and we get a chance to move on."

"We never really doubted ourselves," Heller said. "We know it was time to turn it on. We just knew we would craw back into it."