Genoa junior Luke Rightnowar scores in the fourth inning of the Division III regional final against Bloom-Carroll. The Comets finished 20-10 without a senior on the roster.
THE BLADE/JEFFREY SMITH
ELIDA, Ohio — Representing the Bloom-Carroll baseball team at the Division III regional trophy presentation were the team’s six seniors, their hands together hoisting a prize that narrowly evaded them the last two seasons.
That’s six more seniors — six more motivated, pain-fueled seniors — than their opponent had Saturday.
Genoa, rife with youth, looked the part of underdog in a forgettable 8-1 defeat. The Comets, whose charmed postseason run ends one win shy of the school’s third state tournament appearance, committed too many errors and walked too many batters to beat most teams, especially a veteran-laced one determined to break through an annual roadblock to Columbus.
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Bloom-Carroll, which fell in the regional final the last two years, will play Hamilton Badin in a semifinal Thursday at Huntington Park. Genoa meanwhile is left to hope a year from now it will have a similar story to tell, about how this near miss spurred its seniors a step further.
“We’re at least a year ahead of schedule with this young crew,” said coach Ron Rightnowar, whose team, at 20-10 overall, did better than anyone expected.
Nine walks, six fielding errors, and the absence of timely hitting undid the Comets, who fell behind 7-0 in the fourth inning. Mixed with that harrowing combination was Bloom Carroll starter Jacob Newton, who threw one mid-80 miles per hour fastball after another to secure his first win in three regional final starts.
A messy top of the first foretold a shaky defensive effort. Tyler Rozek overran a fly ball in right, and Cody Pickard could not glove a routine grounder at shortstop, leading to an unearned run and a 38-pitch inning for starter Alex Hayes.
“With a young team you’re going to have some of that, but you can’t beat real good teams,” said Rightnowar, who attributed the shaky start to overzealousness. “We have to play cleaner than that.”
Hayes lasted 3 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits and six earned runs. He walked three batters and hit two others. Reliever Matt Aumiller battled control issues too, walking six through the rest of game.
Roger Danison, the last batter Hayes faced, laced an RBI single in a four-run fourth to go up 7-0. Two batters earlier Seth Paszke smoked a double to left that scored three. Hayes plunked two batters to load the bases.
Though walks and errors killed their chances, second baseman Casey Gose said the Comets’ biggest problem was their opponent, the state’s No. 8 team.
“They played their butts off and they definitely deserved it,” said Gose, who had three of Genoa’s eight hits. “They played a good game.”
Twice, in the third and sixth innings, Genoa failed to score after loading the bases. In the third Newton fell behind Hayes 3-1 before conceding the final ball to his pitching counterpart and loading the bases. No. 4 batter Nick Wolfe then hit into a fielder’s choice for the third out.
“We knew the middle of the order was all pretty good hitters, so when we got behind him we figured we’d walk him and go after the other guy with a fresh count,” Bloom-Carroll coach Brian Thacker said.
The sixth ended with Cody Pickard grounding out to second.
Newton lasted six innings, scattering seven hits and striking out five. Genoa’s lone damage came by No. 9 hitter Logan Scott, who singled to score Rozek on the 10th pitch he saw in the fourth.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: email@example.com, 419-724-6160, or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.