Fliers push across run in eighth to down Wauseon

GENOA – As anticipation built with every pitch, the thought of the first run to score would win the game grew.

Fortunately for Clyde, a misplayed ball allowed the Fliers the run.

Pinch-hitter Jasmine Minch scored from second base on a ball hit by Murissa Drown, lifting second-seeded Clyde to a 1-0, eight-inning victory over third-seeded Wauseon in a Division II district semifinal Wednesday at Genoa Middle School.

“When Murissa first hit it, I was actually hoping it would get over her head,” Clyde coach Marc Marshall said. “The girl (Harlee Floss) did a nice job getting to the ball. Unfortunately, the ball had just enough spin on it and popped out of her glove.”

The Fliers improved to 17-5 overall and will face top-seeded Oak Harbor in the district championship Saturday at noon back at Genoa. Oak Harbor topped Port Clinton, 10-0, in five innings in the first game of the evening.

Minch drew an eight-pitch walk with one out in the bottom half of the eighth inning. After a flyout, Clyde pitcher Hunter Schwochow singled up the middle – just the Fliers’ third hit of the day.

Drown laced the first pitch she saw from Wauseon (14-3) pitcher Juli Spadafore down the right field line. The Indians’ right fielder, Floss, appeared to get to the ball in time, but it smacked her glove and hit the ground, sending the Fliers into extreme joy.

“Harlee read if off the bat well,” Wauseon coach Jen Croninger said. “I honestly don’t know where she lost it. I do not know if she lost it in the sun coming down, or what. It is one of those instances that in that point of the game, it is one error that is going to cost you and unfortunately, it fell their way.”

It was Wauseon that seemingly had chance after chance against Schwochow, but it was a play in the first inning that came up huge. Alisa Shelt doubled to start the game before going to third on a sacrifice bunt. After Ally Tefft walked on four pitches, Clyde catcher Chase Arndt took the first pitch to Floss and fired Shelt out at third. Floss then grounded out to quickly fizzle the threat.

Wauseon left a runner on second in the third, fourth, and fifth inning each, with Schwochow coming up with the big pitch each time to get out of the jam.

“You can not do that at this point in the tournament,” Croninger said. “You are in districts and everybody wants to move on. If you are going to leave runners on, it is going to get you in the end if you do not take care of it.”

The Indians got runners on first and second in the sixth inning, but a fielder’s choice ended the inning. Wauseon’s best opportunity perhaps came in the seventh inning after Spadafore led off with a double to the fence. Maddy Martinez was unable to lay down a sacrifice bunt and struck out swinging.

Shelt then walked to put two runners on and Payton Albright laid down her third sacrifice bunt of the game to move runners to second and third base. But, Schwochow got Tefft to fly out, ending the trouble.

“Our defense played pretty solid today and that is what we needed to do,” Marshall said. “Hunter knows she is not a strikeout pitcher. She tries to keep the ball off the fat part of the bat and give us a chance to make plays.”

Wauseon threatened again in the eighth inning. Chelsie Raabe tripled to deep right field with one out as Marshall called time to talk to Schwochow. The Indians again went to the well to bunt, but it was one time too many. Christina Norman popped the bunt in the air and it was caught for the second out. Schwochow then got Reagan Spadafore to fly out to deep center, keeping the game scoreless.

“We were trying to use our speed,” said Croninger of four sacrifice bunts and the unsuccessful attempt late. “In the little bit I have watched and scouted of them, Clyde’s corners were a little bit farther back than usual, so we were trying to take advantage of it. In the tournament, you do anything and everything to win.”

Clyde found its offensive opportunities few and far between. The Fliers did not get a hit until Julia Munoz singled up the middle with two outs in the fourth inning, but she was stranded at first after a popout.

Clyde did not have a runner even reach second base until the sixth inning. Schwochow singled and the pinch-runner, Minch, went to second on a groundout, but Munoz grounded out to end the half inning. In the seventh inning, Arndt walked to lead off the inning, but progressed no further, sending the game into extra innings.

“We knew (Spadafore) was good,” Marshall said. “We had heard about her and talked to other coaches about her. We were uncharacteristic today. We swung at some bad balls today. We just did not have very good at-bats for us. We were able to string some together there at the end.”

Spadafore allowed just three hits, while walking three. She struck out 11 batters and threw a durable 117 pitches.

“We have hung our hat on our defense,” Croninger said. “I told the girls it would be a grind to the end and it was going to be the defense that wins this. Unfortunately, it was Clyde’s night.”

Schwochow gave up eight hits, while striking out two and walking three.

Clyde will face Margaretta Thursday before Saturday’s matchup with a familiar Oak Harbor squad, who the Fliers battled in recent years in the Sandusky Bay Conference.

“Oak Harbor is one of the best teams in the area,” Marshall said. “They are good. (Ashley) Riley is a good pitcher. We will have our work cut out for us. You are in the district finals. You know you will face a good pitcher.”