Springfield’s late rally falls short in district semifinal vs. Dalton

Staff photo / Preston Byers Springfield’s Alec Fusco attempts to check a swing during the Tigers’ loss to Dalton on Tuesday in Struthers.

STRUTHERS — The Springfield baseball team’s season came to an end Tuesday with a 7-2 defeat at the hands of Dalton at Bob Cene Park in Struthers. The Tigers, who struggled at the plate all spring according to head coach Terry Dobson, fittingly recorded just three hits and were struck out 16 times by Bulldogs pitcher Seth Wyckoff in the Division IV, Northeast 1 district semifinal loss.

“Our Achilles heel all season, we haven’t put the bat on the ball,” Dobson said. “You don’t hit the ball, you’re not gonna win. We didn’t hit the ball, we didn’t win, point blank. Look at all the games we lost. You don’t hit, you don’t win.”

Springfield remained hitless through the first five innings, and Dalton took advantage, building a 3-0 lead with one run in each of the first three innings.

The Bulldogs’ quick start prompted Dobson to make an early pitching change. Blake Jeffries relieved Kolten Ruark in the second inning after Ruark, whose wild pitch in the first inning allowed Dalton to score its first run, surrendered a leadoff single and walked his third batter of the game.

Dobson suggested he may bear some of the responsibility for Ruark’s outing Tuesday.

“Kolten had a rough day to start, and maybe that’s some of my fault because I’m not pitching him enough,” Dobson said. “I was trying to keep him fresh. That’s probably my fault that that happened.”

While Jeffries did not struggle much in his relief appearance, one of the two baserunners he inherited ultimately scored after a sacrifice bunt and a groundout to make it a 2-0 ballgame.

In the third inning, Jeffries allowed two singles, the second of which scored another Dalton run to give the Bulldogs their third in as many innings. Jeffries settled into a groove of sorts after the third inning, though, with the reliever recording a 1-2-3 inning in the fourth and a three-strikeout fifth inning, keeping the Tigers within striking distance.

After yet another scoreless half-inning on the mound by Jeffries, Springfield’s bats finally awoke in the bottom of the sixth inning. Noah Troggio drew a walk just before Jeffries helped himself out with a hard-hit triple to center field, which scored Troggio and broke up Wyckoff’s no-hit bid. Ruark then popped out to Dalton first baseman Micah Boyer in foul territory, but Jeffries tagged up and managed to slide into home and evade the catcher to pull Springfield within one.

While Alec Fusco continued the relative offensive explosion with a single of his own, Parker Dobson struck out to end the sixth inning.

In the top of the seventh, Dalton pulled away with its first successful half-inning at the plate since the top of the third. Boyer and Will Carmichael both doubled before the Tigers walked Talan Greegor to load the bases. Alex Hess took advantage with an RBI single, which led Terry Dobson to make his second pitching change of the game.

While the first change earlier in the game eventually worked, Parker Dobson could not dig Springfield out of its seventh-inning hole. Wyckoff singled, which led to a series of throws around the infield that ultimately allowed Hess to race home and score Dalton’s sixth run.

Dobson hit back-to-back batters — Trey Dunn and Brady Hignight — with the former loading the bases and the latter scoring another run.

Facing Springfield’s final out of the season, Cooper Ensley singled in the bottom of the seventh, but the Tigers were unable to capitalize as Wyckoff tallied his 16th strikeout to cap off the Bulldogs’ playoff victory.

After the game, Terry Dobson said his team never really adapted at the plate this season.

“We talked about it all year. I’m gonna be brutally honest with you; they didn’t buy into it, they didn’t buy into it,” Dobson said of his team’s batting. “Two strikes on it, you gotta put the bat on the ball. You don’t have to swing through it. Just put the bat on the ball. I don’t know. Bad job of coaching.”

Despite the frustrating end, Dobson said he was impressed by how his team performed despite their youth and inexperience.

“We were picked middle of the road in our league and we ended up tying for the league championship,” Dobson said of the Tigers’ 14-11 season. “We had very good pitching this year. Very, very good pitching this year. It’s the youngest team I ever coached.”

With the win, Dalton has advanced to the district championship game, which will be played at Bob Cene Park on Thursday at 5 p.m.

Have an interesting story? Contact Preston Byers by email at pbyers@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @PresByers.


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