After a Division IV sectional final at Calvert, Mohawk's Austin Harper admitted that when he singled home David Dietrich early in the game, he didn't think that run would be enough for a win.
Maybe that one run wouldn't have been enough if it wasn't for the arm of Austin Shock and the gloves of Harper and Dietrich. But for Mohawk, it all came together for a 1-0 victory and a sectional title.
"It's amazing," Harper said. "We haven't won a sectional in a while. We've been on a winning streak. It feels great, it's unbelievable."
PHOTO BY TONY MALUSO
Mohawk shortstop Austin?Harper fires over to first base for an our during Friday’s sectional final against?Calvert in Tiffin.
PHOTO BY TONY MALUSO
Calvert catcher Jesse Gase readies to make a throw to first during Friday’s sectional final against?Mohawk in Tiffin.
The two teams met nine days earlier with a similar result: Mohawk getting the win in a low-scoring pitcher's duel. Warrior coach Eric Hoover says its typical of the way his team has been winning games lately.
"Another great game. We played them a week and a half ago now and that was a great game, well played by both sides," he said. "We just went out there and made plays on defense. Like I told the kids after the game, we haven't been winning many games with scoring a lot of runs. We've been winning games by playing defense and making plays and not giving up so many runs."
Shock and Calvert's Peyton Deats engaged in a pitcher's duel with each giving up just four hits. The only difference was that Mohawk was able to string a few together in the third inning.
Dietrich and Shock had back-to-back singles. Harper stepped up with two outs and dropped a single into short left field, scoring Dietrich for the game's first and only run.
"I didn't get down on myself," Harper said. "Had two strikes on the count, just kind of trying to protect and kind of slapped it over the third baseman's head and got lucky I guess."
"You don't get many chances with good pitchers out there, and neither team had many chances," Hoover said. "But we took advantage of a passed ball, moved some people up and then Harper did a great job of just basically fisting the ball out to left field. Hitting it to opposite field and not trying to do too much with it just knocking it over the left side and we were able to get a run home on that."
Calvert coach Dustin Ritchie agreed that the timing of Mohawk's hits was the difference.
"They got a couple timely hits there and got that run in and that's all they needed was one," he said. "They're a good baseball team. their record doesn't show how good they are. They really are a good team."
Calvert meanwhile wasn't even able to get many opportunities off Shock. The best chance for the Senecas to get on the board came in the fourth inning. Two base hits and a hit batter loaded the bases, but a ground out to Harper at short ended the threat.
In the final three innings Calvert sent the minimum nine batters to the plate. Eight grounded out and the other was thrown out at second trying to advance after a ball got past the first baseman.
"We just couldn't find a hole," Ritchie said after his team fell to 16-5. "It just seemed like when we did hit it, and we did hit it well, it just found their glove somewhere. Their shortstop did a great job of really getting to where the ball was. He read it really well.
"We've had a few games like that so far this season. That' baseball; it happens. You can hit the ball all day long, but it's got to find somewhere to go besides a glove."
The left side of Mohawk's infield was a black hole for Calvert baseballs. Harper made seven putouts from short; Dietrich made five from his third base spot. And just for good measure, second baseman Jacob Jeffrey made the game-ending play on a grounder.
"I'm confident me and him, we can both get ground balls," Harper said. "We've done great in practice, worked pretty hard. I know Shock has confidence in his defense and we made all the plays we needed to."
According to Hoover and Shock, the high amount of ground outs was by design, a product of Shock hitting his spots.
"Lot of low fastballs. Just hitting them on the ground and letting the defense do the work," Shock said. "They did great tonight. The outfield caught a few. It was just a good game all around."
"He got ahead in counts," Hoover added. "Threw a lot of first-pitch strikes and kept the ball down. We got ground ball after ground ball. He was at their knees all day long, and was able to roll a lot of ground balls to the left side and we just continue to make the plays."
Deats, though, was just as effective. The freshman went six innings allowing four hits, the one run and struck out nine.
"He did real well working out of a hole," Ritchie said. "Seemed like it was a full count there for quite a few batters and he kinda pitched out of it, and got timely outs that we needed. Just that one run was all they needed."
Shock, a sophomore, said his four-hit shutout to win the sectional title was one of the top moments of his young career.
But the chances will be there for even greater moments as Mohawk gets to keep its tournament run going. The Warriors, now winners of six straight, face New Riegel in a district semifinal 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Colonel Crawford.
"Feels great to improve," Shock said. "Everyone's been doing better and we were in a slump there for a while. It's great to come back out of that."