By Matt Zircher
COLUMBUS — Baseball coaches all love two-out hits, and Russia’s Evan Monnier came up with the biggest one of the season Friday afternoon at Huntington Park in Columbus.
Russia had runners on second and third with two out in the bottom of the seventh in a tie game in the semifinals of the Division 4 state tournament, with Monnier coming up. With the count 2-1, he fouled of two pitches before taking ball three to run the count full. Then on the next pitch, he singled to center and Dylan Cordonnier trotted home to give the Raiders a 7-6 victory.
Now 24-7, Russia takes on a familiar foe in the Minster Wildcats today at Huntington in the D-4 state championship game. The two teams met very early on this season — just the second game for Russia on March 28 — and the Raiders won 17-6.
Dalton bows out with a final 16-12 record.
Russia took the lead early, scoring twice in the bottom of the first inning, but Dalton got a run in the second and three in the third to double the score on the Raiders at 4-3. But that just set the stage for one of the Raider comebacks, which they have relied on throughout postseason play, and a four-run fifth got them back on top by two.
However, Dalton scored single runs in the sixth and seventh to force the Raiders to bat in the last of the seventh, and Monnier delivered his game-winner.
Hunter Cohee went the first six for the Raiders and allowed all six runs, all earned. He struck out two and walked four. Jack Dapore came on in the seventh after Dalton scored a run and prevented more damage. And he wound up with the win.
In the bottom of the first for the Raiders, Cordonnier got a one-out single and Cohee a two-out walk. Kevin Drees then singled up the middle to plate one run, and Cohee later sped home on a passed ball for a quick 2-0 lead.
But Dalton wasn’t going away, despite coming in just 16-11, and they got one back in the top of the second on a walk, a stolen base, a wild pitch and a throwing error. But Cohee got the next hitter to ground into a double play to keep it from becoming a big inning.
However, Dalton came right back in the top of the third and scored three to take the lead for the first time, and it all came after the first two batters went down. Then came a single and a passed ball to second, followed by a pair of walks to load the bases. Mitchell Clark then doubled down the left field line and all three runners came home.
It stayed 4-2 until the bottom of the fifth, when the Raiders rallied back.
Clay George started it with a double to right-center, and Trenton Monnin was then hit by a pitch. Dion Puthoff then got a bunt single to load the bases, and that set the stage for Russia’s second-biggest hit of the game, a three-run double by Cordonnier to give the Raiders a 5-4 lead. Then an out later, Cohee singled Coordonnier home for the 6-4 lead.
Dalton wasn’t through, however, getting one back in the sixth on a sacrifice fly, then tying the game up again with a run in the top of the seventh on a leadoff triple and an infield single.
So it went to the bottom of the seventh, and Dalton pulled starter Adam Manley in favor of his batterymate Alex Alger, and he was greeted immediately by a single from Cordonnier.
Head coach Kevin Phlipot then called for a sacrifice and it worked, with Drew Sherman advancing the runner to second. Cohee was then walked intentionally, and Drees then grounded out, with both runners advancing. Monnier then singled straight up the middle to end it right there.
Cordonnier had a big game for the Raiders, going 3-for-4 with three runs batted in, on his big fifth-inning double. Clay George was 2-for-2 with a double.
Dalton had seven hits and three were for extra bases.
Dalton`013 001 1—6`7`0
Russia`200 040 1—7`10`1
Manley, Alger (7) (LP) and Alger, Hilty (7); Cohee, Dapore (7) (WP) and Drees.
Records: Russia 24-7, Dalton 16-12.