LORAIN - Alex Zander put an end to Seneca East's state tournament dream.
The Cuyahoga Heights left-hander, who is set to play for Heidelberg next year, retired the first 10 batters he faced, and didn't allow a hit until Elliott Lee's infield single with two out in the fourth.
By that time, the Redskins had attained a 4-0 lead. They won, 9-0, to advance to the Division IV state semifinals. It's the program's first trip to state since 1976.
Zander improved to 8-1, striking out seven and allowing just two hits.
"He was lights out," said Cuyahoga Heights coach Marc Lowther said. "The way it looked in the first three, four innings, (Seneca East) couldn't figure him out."
Zander said the key to his success was getting ahead of SE batters.
|Division IV Regional Final|
|Cuyahoga Heights 9, Seneca East 0|
|Cuyahoga Heights (24-4): Rob Kozak 5-1-2-0; Alex Zander 4-2-3-0; Troy Janashak 4-3-2-2; Andrew Tesler 4-1-4-2; Nick Orlowski 0-0-0-0; Austin Lane 5-0-1-1; Zach Browning 4-1-2-0; Jason Kleppel 2-0-1-1; Jacob Stankiewicz 0-0-0-0; Ryan Rosenlieb 2-0-1-1; Jim Korenowsky 4-1-0-2; Zac Louther 0-0-0-0. Totals: 34-9-16-9.|
|Seneca East (22-9): Jordan Bowerman 3-0-0-0; Billy Diehm 3-0-0-0; Dalton Wise 3-0-0-0; Elliott Lee 3-0-1-0; Jason Branham 3-0-0-0; Kyle Depinet 3-0-0-0; Darin Baldosser 3-0-0-0; Nate Phillips 1-0-0-0; Jake Nagel 1-0-1-0; Jake Gurney 0-0-0-0; Ethan Caudill 2-0-0-0. Totals: 25-0-2-0.|
|Cuyahoga Heights||002 213 1 —9|
|Seneca East||000 000 0 — 0|
|WP — Zander (8-1). LP — McWilliams (5-4)|
|2B — Tesler, Browning (CH)|
"I was spotting the fastball right away, so I could come back with a curve or a change outside," he said, "make them chase and get a nice ground ball."
Seneca East coach Frank Lamoreaux said his offense didn't catch many breaks.
"I think we hit the ball," Lamoreaux said. "It just seemed like when we hit the ball, we hit it at people, and when they hit the ball they were able to find a little bit of a hole."
Seneca East second baseman Darin Baldosser, said it was a combination of things that gave the Tigers problems.
"(Zander) threw great pitches, hit spots," Baldosser said. "We just couldn't put the ball in play like we did (Thursday). They had great defense, didn't make mistakes. Just an all-around good team."
Mason McWilliams started the game on the mound for the Tigers, and worked out of a bases-loaded one-out jam in the first when he got Cuyahoga Heights' Austin Kline to line back to him. McWilliams threw to third, doubling off the runner there to end the inning.
McWilliams stranded a runner at third in in the second inning. In the third, the Redskins broke through.
Zander walked with one out, then Troy Janashak scorched a ball to second that took a wicked hop on Baldosser and got past him for an error. Baldosser, who has played outstanding defense this postseason, tracked the ball down in short right and threw to third, where Zander was heading.
Zander beat the throw, and Janashak took second.
Still, it appeared McWilliams might escape the inning unscathed when he fanned Lane. But Zach Browning ripped a single to center to give Cuyahoga Heights 2-0 lead. Both runs were unearned.
The Redskins added two more runs in the fourth when Janashak hit a two-run single, and another run in the fifth on a Jason Kleppel RBI single.
Down 5-0 in the fifth, the Tigers had their best threat when Kyle Depinet reached on a error by the third baseman and a one-out single by pinch hitter Jake Nagel moved Depinet to third.
That brought up Ethan Caudill, a week removed from a two-home run game against Buckeye Central.
Caudill grounded to short. Janashak fielded the ball and went to second for the force. Caudill beat the relay to first, but the umpire ruled that Jake Gurney, who had run for Nagel, had slid out of the baseline. Instead of Seneca East getting a run and having a man on, the inning was over and it remained 5-0.
Lamoreaux argued the call on the field. Shortly afterwards, there was lightning delay of 30 minutes.
"(The umpire) told me to go out and look at the slide (marks) when we had the lightning delay," Lamoreaux said. "We had the lightning delay, I went out and looked at the slide. His feet were right coming into the base. I don't want to sound like sour grapes. That's his call."
Zander came back out after the lightning delay. With his team leading 9-0 in the seventh, he struck out Lee, but Lee reached when the ball went to the backstop on the third strike. Zander retired the next three batters, striking out Baldosser to end it.
The Redskins, who have been to the regionals three straight years here but hadn't won it until Friday, piled up in celebration between the mound and home.
"It was great to get that win to head down to Columbus," Zander said.