Alder takes Division II district championship
By Fran Odyniec
The Jonathan Alder High School Pioneers are Division II Central District champions in baseball.
In a thrilling ninth-inning finish, the Pioneers bested the Granville Blue Aces, 2-1 Thursday afternoon at Beavers Field in Lancaster.
Nate Squires singled with two out to score Shane Veith from second with the winning run.
Veith wound up at second after his single up the middle got by Granville’s centerfielder as he attempted a diving catch. Squires’ hit was knocked down in the infield, but Veith was waved around third, and scored on a bang-bang play at the plate.
“Lots of people and our coaching staff are calling it the best high school baseball game they had ever seen,” said Pioneer coach Craig Kyle. “For me it’s right up there with the state championship game in 2010.”
Kyle added that his Pioneers and the Granville Blue Aces are “two great teams that put it all on the line.”
Pitcher Anderson Hasting went eight innings for the Pioneers, and held the Blue Aces to two hits while striking out 10. Brad Miller closed out the ninth, allowing one single.
“He had a little left in the tank from Tuesday night,” Kyle said of his decision to use Miller in the closer’s role. “Anderson’s pitch count was getting up there.”
The Blue Aces took a 1-0 lead in the fourth, which in a game like this, could have been the final outcome.
“It took the air out of our sails,” Kyle said. “But we kept pressing and putting the ball in play. I told them not to quit.”
The Pioneers tied the game in the seventh. With two outs and pinch runner Casey Graber on third, Brad Miller beat out an infield single that scored Graber.
With the score tied 1-1, the Pioneers left the bases loaded in the eighth.
Then what Kyle likes to call the difference between a good team and a great team came into play in the bottom of the ninth.
Clutch hitting with two outs made that difference for Alder.
“Hitting with two outs to score both runs is testament to the character and fight of our kids,” Kyle said. “Our kids refused to go down.”
“With every pitch and hit the game was on the line,” Kyle said of the game’s tempo.
The Pioneers stroked six hits.
The regional semifinals begin next Thursday at 5 p.m. at Tiffin University. Alder will play the winner of the Defiance-Perkins game on Saturday.