Anthony Wayne captures NLL baseball title


May 18—In an epic battle for the Northern Lakes League baseball championship, fifth-ranked Anthony Wayne survived for a 10-7 victory in nine innings Monday night at third-ranked Perrysburg.

The Generals (21-4, 13-1 NLL) appeared poised to celebrate going into the bottom of the seventh inning before the host Yellow Jackets (22-3, 11-2) staged an unlikely four-run rally against hard-throwing AW ace Ty Roder to force extra innings.

Heading into that inning, the Wright State University-bound right-hander, whose fastball topped out at 91 mph earlier in the game, had limited Perrysburg to one run on just two hits and had struck out nine Yellow Jackets to that point.

But the never-say-die Jackets rallied for five hits off of Roder to tie the game in the seventh, with Ben Robeson’s RBI single through the middle knotting things at 5.

“I was never comfortable, even with a five-run lead,” Generals coach Mark Nell said. “One through nine, Perrysburg swings the bats. They’re a great baseball team. Actually, there were two great baseball teams playing today.

“Ty competed, and he didn’t lose it,” Nell said of his ace. “They got him. They hit him. They went around the lineup a few times [earlier], and Ty had great stuff. He pitched one heck of a game to give us a chance to win.”

Perrysburg had a golden opportunity to win the game in the seventh.

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After Roder intentionally walked leadoff hitter Kanyon Gagich, he then walked Hudson Smith unintentionally to load the bases with only one out. Perrysburg still had just one out with No. 3 hitter Connor Walendzak at the plate.

But Roder bore down to strike out Walendzak, then got Cam Darrington on the next pitch on a flyout to left to send the game to extra innings.

Despite Evan Anderson’s lead-off double to open the eighth, AW failed to score in that inning off Jackets reliever Ryan Thompson, who had taken over for starter Noah English with two outs in the sixth.

Garret Pike, who will play at the University of Toledo as a position-player recruit next year, relieved Roder to begin the bottom of the eighth.

“That was crazy,” Pike said of Perrysburg’s rally. “They got the bats going and were hitting the ball all over the place. Ty was able to work his way out of it, and I knew we had to step up.

“That’s what we were able to do. In the the top of the ninth, we were able to put a five-spot up. That was big for us to be able to work through that. I was ready for [relief chance]. I had to flip a switch. I took advantage of the opportunity.”

Pike walked Thompson, who was forced out on pinch-hitter Aidan Pratt’s sacrifice bunt attempt, then got out of the inning when AW first baseman Evan Ruhe turned Christian Gulgin’s sharp liner into an unassisted inning-ending double play.

The Generals then got to Perrysburg’s third pitcher, Darrington, for five runs in the top of the ninth.

Ruhe, whose defensive gem ended the eighth, sparked the rally with a lead-off single. Noah Sample, executed a sacrifice bunt, and reached safely on a throwing error by Robeson at third. The two runners were successfully bunted over, and Darrington walked Marco Morrison and Connor Holck to force home the first run of the rally for a 6-5 edge.

Anderson hit a scarifice fly to center to make it 7-5, Pike (3-for-4, double) followed with an RBI single to left, and after Sandeholtz was walked intentionally to load the bases, Alex Gerken capped the rally with a two-run single for a 10-5 lead.

“Our kids played hard and [Roder] was obviously shoving it down our throats for a while,” Perrysburg coach Dave Hall said. “I kept telling them, ‘He’s going to tire. We’ve got to be ready in the sixth and seventh. Hang in there.’

“We hung in there, and I thought the kids did a great job. We had a great seventh inning, and we had the guys up that we wanted with the bases loaded, our 3-4 hitters. With those two kids, I thought we could get a fly ball out of it.”

Perrysburg refused to go down quietly again in the ninth.

After Pike retired the first two Jackets batters in the bottom of the ninth, Gagich drew a walk, Smith singled, and Walendzak followed with an RBI double that one-hopped the fence in left-center. A second run scored on the play on a throwing error to make it 10-7, but Pike fanned Darrington to end the game and secure the NLL championship.

Anthony Wayne finished with 12 hits, including a 3-for-5 effort from Saneholtz that included a double and three RBI. Gerken, Ruhe, and Sample each contributed two hits for the Generals, who had beaten visiting Perrysburg 8-2 in the first league game between the two teams back on April 16.

AW got its first two runs in this game on a two-run double by Saneholtz, and added two more in the fifth on Sample’s two-run single off English. Pike doubled and scored on Saneholtz’s RBI single for a 5-0 Generals lead in the sixth.

Perrysburg’s first run came in the bottom of the sixth, when Gagich tripled to right field and scored on Smith’s sacrifice fly.

“That’s what you play all year for,” Hall said of the battle. “That’s what you work in December and January for. You want to be playing for something in the last week [of league]. It was a great game. I just wish it had been a different result.”

Added Nell: “Both teams are very good, and this was a classic matchup. It seems to come down to this [AW-Perrysburg] every year.

“What’s even better for us is that we’re doing this not only for the guys here now, but for the 11 seniors who graduated last year and didn’t get to play [in 2020]. This is for them, as well.”

First Published May 17, 2021, 8:00pm



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