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Published: Saturday, 5/30/2009

Toledo Christian, Patrick Henry advance to final

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

HAMLER - Two pair of brothers provided key contributions Friday to send Toledo Christian into the Division IV regional championship game.

The siblings sparked a four-run second inning and the Eagles cruised to a 5-1 victory over Hopewell-Loudon in the semifinals yesterday. Toledo Christian (20-5) will take on defending state champion Patrick Henry (22-4) in the title game here Saturday at 2 p.m. The Patriots knocked off Leipsic 9-1 in the second semifinal.

TC senior starting pitcher Grant Sims scored more runs than he gave up. Sophomore brother Luke Sims drove in two runs and scored another.

Senior Jake Rightnowar, the Toledo Area Athletic Conference player of the year, had two hits, scored a run and drove in another. His sophomore brother, Luke Rightnowar, had two RBIs and scored a run.

"Those kids have played a lot of baseball as kids coming up," TC coach Ron Rightnowar said. "They know how to play the game."

Grant Sims allowed only one earned run and struck out eight. With his team up 5-1, Sims escaped a bases loaded jam with one out in the fifth. The senior got a strikeout and ground out to end the threat.

"I've been in that position," Sims said. "I've was ready for it. I've had bases loaded and no outs and I've gotten out of it. So this wasn't anything new."

Grant Sims struck out five of the final seven batters and fanned three in the seventh.

"I don't think he flinched," his coach said. "He was able to execute."

Hopewell-Loudon (23-4) reached a regional for the first time in school history. The Chieftains, who also won the most games in program history, scratched across the first run of the game in the second. Tyler Tyree doubled - just missing a home run - and scored on Miles Chapman's single.

"These kids have been to the state championship football game two years in a row," H-L coach Tony Swanagan said. "They've set numerous records this year."

But TC posted four runs with two outs in the bottom of the inning. The Eagles batted around and took advantage of two errors.

"Today I thought our guys got mad that they scored first," coach Rightnowar said. "They were serious about getting on the board."

Anthony Dodd singled and scored on Luke Sims' infield single. Grant Sims scored on Jake Rightnowar's single to make it 2-1. Luke Sims then came home on a single by Nick Rightnowar.

"[Jake] got us going right out of the gate and he's been doing it all year. It's really fun for his dad to watch," Rightnowar said of his son who was batting .521.

With the bases loaded and two out, Jake Rightnowar scored when Parker Brown was hit by a pitch for a 4-1 Eagle advantage.

"We've been playing together since the third grade," Grant Sims said. "Jake and I have always played together and Luke and Nick have always played together. We know how we react to things and we know we can score runs."

The last two runs in the second were scored after the Chieftains had two opportunities to end the inning on foul pop-ups that were dropped. TC added another run in the third on Luke Sims' sacrifice fly that plated his brother.

In the second semifinal, a strong, steady wind did not prevent PH from banging out 15 hits. Eight Patriots batters had at least one hit. They batted around in the fifth with six hits and six runs.

Luke George, Brian Kline and Kasey Spence had three hits apiece. George and Kline drove in two runs apiece. Spence scored two runs and Clay Maas also scored twice.

"It's something we've had the whole tournament run," PH coach Shawn Sunderman said. "We've had eight hitters get on base in each of our games."

Patrick Henry scored two in the second and one in the fourth. Leipsic (21-4) scored one in the seventh.

The Patriots turned three inning-ending double plays in the first five innings for freshman starting pitcher Nick Gerschutz, who gave up just three hits.

"We told him all week that all we needed were four strong innings from him," Sunderman said. "We had some big double plays that helped him out. That relaxed him and our kids settled down a bit."

Contact Mark Monroe at:

mmonroe@theblade.com

or 419-304-4760.



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