Rocky Fork Enterprise

Baseball

Gahanna's record run ends in state semi

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When the Gahanna Lincoln High School baseball team gave up four runs in the third inning to fall behind 5-2 in its Division I state semifinal against Cleveland St. Ignatius, it marked the first time during the postseason that it trailed by more than one run.

Similarly to the rest of what became the longest tournament run in program history, the Lions still had a big inning in them.

Gahanna came back to score three times in the fifth to tie St. Ignatius at 5 before the Wildcats put the game away with a two-run triple by Dan Rowbottom in the sixth for a 7-5 victory June 8 at Huntington Park.

The Lions, who finished 22-10, had at least one three-run rally in the fourth inning or later in every previous tournament game.

"There's no giving up with this team," senior shortstop Christian Chiero said. "We fell down, but if it weren't for a couple defensive plays here or there, it would have been different."

After bad weather moved the semifinal from June 7 to 1 p.m. June 8, Lions senior starting pitcher Alec Tuohy got into trouble in the first inning.

Rowbottom walked to open the game and stole second when the ball got caught inside catcher Kain Lowe's chest protector. Rowbottom moved to third on a single by Tyler Finkler, and Conor Hennessey followed with an RBI single to right-center field to make it 1-0.

The Wildcats went on to load the bases before Tuohy got Cole Nieto to ground into an inning-ending double play from Chiero to second baseman Bradley Hull to first baseman Evan White.

In the bottom of the first, leadoff hitter Zach Baumann (RF) walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error by Nieto at third.

Gahanna made it 2-1 in the second when Tuohy walked, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Shawn Martin (3B) and scored on a single to left by Peyton Ross (LF), but the lead was short-lived.

In the top of the third, Finkler and Hennessey each reached on infield singles with one out to start a four-run rally. St. Ignatius benefited from two errors and then got RBI singles by Nieto and Shane Skuhrovec to take a 5-2 lead.

Gahanna tied it with three in the fifth. After Trent Champlin (CF) and Doland Martin (C) walked against starter Tom Rolle, Chiero singled in Champlin, White drove in Martin on a fielder's choice and Alex Delp (DH) drove in Chiero with a single off reliever Kyle Pluta.

After Tuohy was relieved by Boomer Lowe in the sixth, Skuhrovec opened with a bloop single to center and Alex Panstares reached on what appeared to be a hit by pitch.

Gahanna coach Mike Shade argued to no avail that the ball didn't hit Panstares.

Lowe struck out pinch-hitter Jordan Buford before giving up the two-run triple to Rowbottom, an Illinois recruit.

"It was the wrong game to have a letdown defensively," Shade said. "Stuff happened that wasn't happening all year to us. You have a ball going up into the kid's chest protector and you have the hit by pitch. I said (to the umpire) that the ball didn't hit him, but (Pan-stares) sold it and got the call."

Tuohy, the district's Player of the Year, gave up five runs, but just one was earned, in five innings while striking out five.

Chiero and Delp each went 2-for-4 with one RBI and Tuohy was 1-for-2 with a run and an RBI.

St. Ignatius went on to lose to Cincinnati Moeller 7-1 in the state final June 9.

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