By Matt Zircher
SPRINGFIELD — Russia lost twice to Fort Loramie during the regular season, and it appeared the Redskins might make it a season sweep of the Raiders with a win in the Division 4 Regional baseball semifinals Friday at Carlton Davis Stadium in Springfield.
But a two-run fifth gave Russia the lead, and the Raiders then tacked on four more in the bottom of the sixth to come away with an 8-4 victory and advance to today’s regional championship game, with a berth in next week’s state tournament on the line.
The Raiders go to 21-7 on the season and take on defending state champion Newark Catholic this morning beginning at 11 a.m. in the regional final. Newark Catholic took a 5-0 lead after two innings, but had to hang on to beat Tri-County North 5-4 in Friday’s second game.
Fort Loramie finishes the season with a 20-11 record, having won 11 of their last 14 games.
Carter Siegel had two hits to lead Fort Loramie. Russia got a 3-for-3 day from catcher Kevin Drees and two hits each from Dion Puthoff and Drew Sherman. Sherman drove in three runs and Drees two, and both Puthoff and Sherman scored two runs each.
Loramie got a run in the top of the first when Dylan Albers opened the game with a double. He advanced on a one-out wild pitch, and trotted home on a base hit by Daniel Berning.
Russia came back to take the lead with a two-run second.
Hunter Cohee led off the inning with a single on an 0-2 pitch, and Drees followed with a single. Evan Monnier then bunted his way aboard to load the bases with nobody out.
After Jack Dapore flied out, Daril Lavy was hit by a pitch, tying the game up with Cohee crossing the plate. Clay George then gave the Raiders the lead with a sacrifice fly.
It stayed at 2-1 until the top of the fourth, when the Redskins retook the lead with two more runs. Siegel singled to start the inning, and after a fly out, Jared Middendorf reached on a fielder’s choice, with all hands safe on a throwing error. Shane Hilgefort then singled to load the bases with one out.
Ben Barhorst’s infield single wound up scoring both runs, one run scoring on the hit and another on a throwing error to make it 3-2.
The lead reached 4-2 an inning later when the Redskins scored a run after two out and nobody on. Siegel walked and CJ Billing was hit by a pitch. Middendorf then singled to center to drive in Siegel.
Loramie pitcher Jared Middendorf was going strong, but ran into problems in the bottom of the fifth. Dion Puthoff opened the inning with a double, and took third on a wild pitch. After a groundout, Sherman singled him home to cut the lead to 4-3. Cohee then reached on a throwing error, with Sherman taking third, and he then scored on a squeeze bunt by Drees to tie the game up.
“We’ve struggled in the past with Middendorf, but we started to make some progress the last time we faced him and we felt confident going into today’s game,” said Russia coach Kevin Phlipot. “We did a good job of staying within ourselves and taking the ball to right center.
Loramie threatened in the top of the sixth when Barhorst walked and Albers reached on an error on a sacrifice bunt. But after a strikeout, Albers was forced at second, and the Raiders got a strikeout with men on second and third to end the inning.
Russia then put it away in the bottom of the sixth inning. Lavy walked and George sacrificed, with pinch-runner Trenton Monnin taking second. That brought the top of the order up and Puthoff delivered a single to left to put runners on the corners.
After a change of pitchers, Dylan Cordonnier drove in a run with an infield single to put Russia up 5-4, then Drew Sherman came through with the big blow of the game, a two-run triple to make it 7-4. Drees then came up with a two-out single to plate Sherman.
Jack Dapore, who pitched the last 21/3 innings in relief of starter Daniel Kearns and got the win, retired the Redskins in order in the seventh to give the Raiders the victory.
“We have three good pitchers in Kearns, Dapore and Cohee and we felt that going with Kearns at the start was the right move,” said Phlipot. “He gives Loramie a different look and then it changes again with Dapore coming on in relief. Jack’s been strong in relief lately, especially the Lehman game, and he was again today.
“We had some errors, but we didn’t let things snowball into a big inning for Loramie,” he added. “They never had more than two runs in an inning and that kept us in the ball game until our offense came alive in the final two innings.”
Loramie`100 210 0—4`7`1
Russia`020 025 x—8`10`4
Middendorf (LP), Rosengarten (6) and Berning; Kearns, Dapore (5) (WP) and Drees.
Records: Loramie 20-11, Russia 21-7.