BASCOM - There never was an announcement of the estimated distance of Alex Ratchen's first inning homer Wednesday, and there was good reason for that.
It may not have landed yet.
The Hopewell-Loudon catcher crushed a two-run shot to straight away center field - the deepest part of the park, 394 feet from home plate - and the Chieftains used a five-run fifth to defeat St. Joe, 9-1.
The game was not as lopsided as the score indicates.
After H-L starting pitcher Logan Sendelbach worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the first, Austin Harrison slapped a one-out single to left. Ratchen then hammered a Brett Michael pitch over everything in center.
"I definitely knew I got a hold of the ball, but I wasn't sure it was going out," said Ratchen, who later had a double and finished with three RBIs. "I was pretty happy when it went out."
Hopewell-Loudon 9, Fremont St. Joe 1
St. Joe (9-13): Matt Macielewicz 3-0-0-0; Marcus Kerr 3-1-2-0; Tommy Spader 2-0-0-0; Zack Yeckley 3-0-0-0; Bennett Weickert 2-0-1-1; Austin Jess 3-0-0-0; Jake Yeckley 3-0-0-0; Brett Michael 2-0-0-0; Lucas Michael 1-0-0-0; Tivo Ysasi 2-0-0-0. Totals: 24-1-3-1
Hopewell-Loudon (21-1): Logan Sendelbach 2-2-1-0; Austin Harrison 4-2-2-1; Tyler Tyree 3-1-1-1; Alex Ratchen 2-2-2-3; Austin Kuhn 4-0-1-0; Eric Depinet 2-0-0-1; Eric Tanner 3-0-0-0; Logan Kirby 3-1-0-0; Jordan Reinhart 1-1-0-1. Totals: 25-9-7-7.
Fremont St. Joe 001 000 0 - 1
Hopewell-Loudon 200 051 X - 9
WP - Sendelbach (7-0); LP - B. Michael (1-1).
HR - Ratchen (H-L).
3B - Depinet (H-L).
2B - Kerr (FSJ); Tyree, Ratchen (H-L).
But Michael, a left-hander, regained his composure and kept the top-ranked Chieftains off-balance with mostly offspeed pitches. Michael kept H-L off the board for the next three innings. His most impressive work came in the fourth. He started the inning by hitting Ratchen. Austin Kuhn followed with a fly ball to center that St. Joe's Matt Macielewicz dropped, putting runners at first and second. Michael got Eric Depinet to pop to first.
Then there was thunder, and the game was delayed for about 35 minutes.
When play resumed, Michael got Eric Tanner to pop out, then fanned Logan Kirby.
"Brett was just something a little different," Streaks' coach Cory Miller said. "He kept them off balance pretty good, mixing it in and out."
While Michael was able to slow H-L's offense, Chieftain starter Logan Sendelbach allowed only an unearned run in the third inning. He went six innings, striking out 10.
"[I was] mixing up my pitches pretty good, that was about it," Sendelbach said.
The Chieftains finally broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth. Jordan Reinhart led off with a walk, then Sendelbach ripped a triple to center to make it 3-1. Tyler Tyree and Ratchen then hit back-to-back RBI doubles, and H-L's lead swelled to 5-1.
That was it for Michael; he was replaced on the mound by Lucas Michael. H-L added two more runs that inning, and two more in the sixth to put the game away.
The Chieftains beat the Streaks 14-0 in a Midland Athletic League game last week. But Hopewell-Loudon coach Brian Rothrock said he expected to get a tough game from St. Joe Wednesday.
"We pressed ourselves a little bit too much there early on," Rothrock said. "All in all, it's tournament time. You're going to expect teams to take it to a new level."
Hopewell-Loudon advanced to the district semifinals, where it will play MAL rival New Riegel at 5 p.m. May 16 at the Marathon Diamonds in Findlay. New Riegel defeated Mohawk, 7-0, in a sectional final Wednesday.