Raiders out: Defending champions eliminated
By Greg Gulas
Austin Nupp’s run-scoring single in the fifth inning broke a 6-6 tie and Canton Central Catholic held on to defeat defending state champion South Range 8-6 in Division III district championship action Wednesday at Bob Cene Park.
The loss ended record-setting season for the Raiders (24-6).
The Crusaders now advance to the Massillon regional and will play Niles district winner Edgewood May 20 at 5 p.m. at Massillon High School.
Edgewood defeated Champion 10-5 on Wednesday at Waddell Park.
“The goal at the end of the year is to win your last game. We fell just short of that goal this year,” South Range catcher Jared Bajerski said. “We had a nice season and I love this team and what we accomplished this year.”
The Crusaders (22-6) opened the scoring in the first inning when Austin Beck drew a one-out walk, moved to second on a groundout and then raced home on an infield throwing error for a 1-0 advantage.
South Range didn’t trail very long, sending 10 batters to the plate in their half the inning and plating five runs on four hits aided by three Crusaders’ miscues to open a 5-1 lead.
The big blows included a run-scoring single by Jake Gehring, Brandon Mikos’ bases-loaded walk and Kris Scandy’s fielder’s choice RBI.
“We felt good after the first inning, giving up just one run on no hits and then getting five runs for a 5-1 lead,” Raiders head coach Jim Hanek said. “Give them credit because they chipped away, took the lead and after we tied it up, they retook the lead and never gave it up.
“We had a really nice season, setting a new school record for wins in a season with 24 and winning the NE8 championship our first year in the league. There were a lot of positives about our season.”
Central Catholic cut the deficit to 5-2 in the third inning on a run-scoring single by Calvin Burns, opening a 6-5 lead in the fourth frame on a bases loaded walk to Beck and bases clearing double by Cameron Johnson.
In the fourth inning, Ben Rivera’s single scored Bajerski as the Raiders tied the score at 6, only to have the Crusaders regain the lead in the fifth frame on a run-scoring single by Austin Nupp and a groundout by Zach Wassil.
Bajerski paced the Raiders with a single, walking twice and scoring twice while Rivera had three hits and scored a run.
Jake Gehring also added two hits, drove in a run and scored a run for South Range.
Nupp had two hits, scored two runs and added an RBI for the Crusaders.