The date and place were familiar and proverbial.
The result was just far from customary.
In its fourth trip to the regional tournament, the Springfield baseball team failed to repeat with a state berth, falling to Cuyahoga Heights on Thursday. The Tigers were shut out, 11-0 as Nick Russell suffered his first loss in two years, going just 21/3 innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits.
“They did something that no one has been able to do and that’s hit Nick around,” Springfield coach Matt Weymer said. “They were seeing the ball real well.”
After facing the minimum in the first inning, Russell recorded two-straight outs after Andrew Tessler led on with a single in the second. Then, the Redskins picked up a string of five hits and scored four runs.
“[The umpire] was giving the corners in the first inning a little bit, so I brought pitches in for the second and they hit the ball well off that,” Russell said. “I was pretty upset and threw a little harder and ended up overthrowing a little bit. They kept hitting it and hitting it.”
Really, that’s been commonplace for Cuyahoga Heights (23-4).
“Clutch hitting, that’s been coming on all year,” said coach Marc Lowther. “We always swing the bat and put runs up.”
The Tigers had a chance to respond in the bottom of the second when Matt Chicase led off with a single. They loaded the bases with two outs before Ryan Kohler was hit by a pitch. Instead of taking his base and bringing in a run, Kohler was charged with a strike for leaning into the pitch. The rule mandates batters to attempt to avoid getting hit.
“That was a big play in the game,” Weymer said. “I don’t know if that wins or loses it because of the way they hit the ball, but we get a run there, get Joe Ohlin up with the bases loaded and maybe it’s a different game.
“It’s a judgment call. The ump made his call and we don’t have to agree with it, but we still didn’t get anything off of it. That’s the way it goes. You can’t make excuses in an 11-0 game.”
Nonetheless, it was a blow to the Tigers, who finish at 22-6.
“It kind of put everybody down a little bit,” Russell said.
Springfield struck out five times and managed just six hits off Xavier-prospect Austin Lane. Chicase singled in all three of his at bats.
“Austin Lane has been pitching like that all year,” Lowther said. “He throws strikes and what I think is a heavy ball. It’s right there and you never hit the ball hard off it. He’ll be a machine at the next level.”
Cody Pitzo, Brandon Chamberlain and Hunter Snyder had the Tigers’ other hits.