NORTH ROBINSON - Billy Diehm, Seneca East's playoff ace, did it again Wednesday.
In the district semifinal in North Robinson, the Tigers' starting pitcher stifled Colonel Crawford's bats, worked out of a jam in the seventh inning, and pushed SE to Friday's district final, where it will play Buckeye Central for the second-straight year.
Diehm allowed two runs, one earned, struck out eight and allowed just five hits as Seneca East (20-8) stopped the Eagles, 3-2.
"That's what Billy does," said his coach, Frank Lamoreaux. "He's a veteran, he's an all-league performer the last two years, and he should be again this year. He was a warrior."
Lamoreaux said that Diehm was ill Wednesday morning, and the coach wasn't sure at first if he could go.
"I asked him on the bus, I said 'Billy, what do you think?,'" Lamoreaux said.
Seneca East 3,
Colonel Crawford 2
Colonel Crawford (13-13): Jordan Shell 4-0-1-0; Austin Adams 4-2-2-0; Matt Metcalf 3-0-0-0; Mitch Cook 3-0-1-1; Seth Keller 3-0-0-0; Kyle Harmon 3-0-0-0; Matt Leuthold 0-0-0-0; Zach Picou 3-0-0-0; Connor Mutchler 3-0-1-0; Jonathan Mutchler 0-0-0-0; Ethan Burkhart 3-0-0-0. Totals: 29-2-5-1.
Seneca East (20-8): Jordan Bowerman 4-0-1-0; Billy Diehm 3-0-1-1; Dalton Wise 3-0-1-0; Elliott Lee 3-0-1-0; Nate Phillips 0-0-0-0; Jason Branham 3-1-1-0; Kyle Depinet 3-1-1-0; Darin Baldosser 3-0-1-2; Ethan Caudill 3-0-1-0. Totals: 25-3-8-3.
Colonel Crawford 1010000 - 2
Seneca East030000X - 3
WP - Diehm (6-1). LP - Metcalf.
2B - Adams 2, Mutchler (CC).
Diehm told Lamoreaux he could pitch.
"That just shows you his toughness," Lamoreaux said.
Diehm needed it in the top of the seventh. He gave up a one-out ground rule double to Connor Mutchler, then struck out Ethan Burkhart. Up a run and with an out to get, Diehm faced Jordan Shell, who was hitless in three at-bats. But this time, Shell hit the ball to left for a single. The ball was hit hard enough that Colonel Crawford coach Joe Swartzmiller, who was coaching third, held pinch runner Jonathan Huffman at third.
Swartzmiller said he had no second thoughts about putting up the stop sign.
"[Left fielder Elliott Lee] came up throwing, he knew what he was doing," Swartzmiller said. "He made a great throw."
Diehm then had to retire Austin Adams, who had two doubles and had scored both Eagles' runs.
"I was thinking, that's the last guy I want to face today," Diehm said. "I was hoping the batter before that, I could get an out on him, because I was able to do that all game."
But Adams grounded to first to end the game.
"Timely hitting just wasn't there today," Swartzmiller said.
That was true for both teams. The Eagles (13-13) scored their first run in the first when Mitch Cook singled in Austin Adams.
Seneca East retaliated with three runs in the second, getting a two run single from Darin Baldosser and an RBI base hit from Diehm.
But that was it for the Tigers' offense, despite leaving a runner on base in every inning.
"We need some situational hitting," Lamoreaux said. We need guys to step up and just come through in a big situation. Hopefully that will happen next game."
Colonel Crawford scored an unearned run in the third.
Seneca East will face the Bucks at 5 p.m. Friday. The teams split a pair of games this season. BC defeated the Tigers in the district final a year ago.
"We're looking forward to it, Lamoreaux said. "We're gonna play a good team. Buckeye's solid. We split with them in the regular season. We know what they have, and they kinda know what we have."