DEFIANCE -- To say it has been a good week for Lake baseball might be an understatement.
The Flyers, earlier in the week wrapped up the first-ever Northern Buckeye Conference championship, and Saturday night at Defiance High School they claimed the Division III district championship with a nail-biting 5-4 win over NBC foe Otsego.
"We have eight seniors and they just want to keep playing," said Lake head coach Greg Wilker. "They're excited to keep playing. They enjoy being around each other and it shows."
The Flyers, 24-5 overall, were clinging to a 5-3 lead in the seventh inning when things became a little bit dicey. Sophomore pitcher Jayce Vancena, who replaced starting pitcher Jake Materni after four innings of work, was faced with the top of Otsego's line up to begin the final inning.
After recording a four-pitch strikeout, Vancena surrendered back-to-back hits, a single by Collin Austin and a double by Nathan Hackworth, giving the Knights runners on second and third with one out.
"I just thought if I throw strikes, I can give up one run, I just have to let the defense work. I wasn't nervous or anything," said Vancena.
After a walk to load the bases, the sophomore pitcher gave up a sacrifice fly to center field, allowing Austin to score from third base, cutting the Flyer lead to 5-4 with two outs.
Vancena buckled down and struck out Otsego's Drake Johnson on three straight fastballs, with the last one catching the outside corner for strike three, ending the game.
Otsego ends its season 14-13.
"We have a lot of confidence behind him because he has five saves for us on the year," Wilker said of Vancena. "He's been lights-out all year long for us.
"We've been in a lot of close games. And I think that helps. Our league is very tough."
Lake's Jake Materni recorded the win as he pitched the first four innings, allowing three runs on five hits and two strikeouts. He left with a 4-3 lead.
Corey Hotmer gave the Flyers a much-needed insurance run when he took a 2-0 hanging curveball deep over the left-centerfield wall off of Otsego's pitcher, Hackworth.
Thomas Nichols and Hotmer were each 2-3 with an RBI in the contest, and Materni was also 2-3.
Vancena seemingly breezed through his first two innings of work, using mainly his fastball.
At the conclusion Vancena had impressive line of five strikeouts, one walk, three hits and one earned run in three innings of work, though his defense may deserve a little bit of the credit for his success.
"I was just thinking coming into the seventh inning to throw strikes," Vancena said. "If they put it in play, that's great, our defense will make plays."
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