TIFFIN — The sun had already set with a shot at state on the line. But Gordon Seger roped a double to score the game-winning run for the Bruisers baseball American Legion Cowle Post 151 19u baseball team.
The Bruisers outlasted Post 169 Sasquatch 18u 9-8 in 12 innings on Monday night.
The game was tied at 3 by the end of regulation. With the game tied at 6-6, Sasquatch led 8-6 by the middle of the 12th inning. But Seger’s double drove in Logan Kray, of Edgewood, from first base to score the game winner.
“There was a lot of high-tension stress going on for a lot of innings,” Bruisers head coach Joe Zappitelli said. “Five innings, it’s dark and knowing we’d have to drive six more hours to play maybe one inning [tomorrow].”
They qualified for state in 2019. The 2020 tournament was canceled due to COVID-19.
Jayden Faraguna, Lake Catholic/John Carroll, went seven innings on the mound for the Bruisers. He allowed three runs on five hits and six walks while striking out nine. Brandon Ferdinando, Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin/JCU, earned the win with five innings of relief work. He allowed five runs on five hits and one walk while striking out five.
Seger, a Grand Valley graduate playing Baldwin Wallced, finished 4 for 5 with three RBIs and Alex Kennedy, from Conneaut, was 2 for 5 with a run scored.
The Sasquatch led 2-0 after scoring a run in the second and third innings. The Bruisers tied the game with a two-run bottom of the fourth.
The Bruisers took a 3-2 lead in the sixth, but the Sasquatch tied the game with a run in the seventh. Both teams scored three runs in their respective halves of the ninth inning.
“Fly ball to right-center field. My right fielder threw a one-hopper home, nailed the guy at home a the tag,” Zappitelli said. “That’s how close everything was — down to the wire. Every play was bang-bang.”
By the time the game ended around 9:30 p.m., the sun had already set. The field didn’t have lights, but Zappitelli said the batters managed to see the ball.
The offense started to slowly come together for the Bruisers over the course of the tournament. Zappitelli preached patience to his players at the plate. He didn’t want them going to the dish swinging at anything. He wanted his guys to work themselves into hitter’s counts and be more selective.
The Bruisers will have a week before their first tournament game, and Zappitelli would like to get another game in to keep their momentum.
“We started out a little slow in the beginning of the tournament, but the bats heated up over the last three or four games,” Zappitelli said. “That tends to be the case when you’re playing in tournaments. And that’s some of the energy and mojo I’d like to keep going into states.”
Zappitelli needs to get his players rested. Outside of two players, the rest of the pitching staff had reached their pitch limit.
Zappitelli didn’t know who his team will play against to start the state tournament. He expects to find out today since the rain from last week delayed some of the brackets.
First pitch for the Bruisers’ first state tournament game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on July 27 at Beavers Field in Lancaster.