ONTARIO – The coach may have been concerned, but his team wasn’t.
Falling behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning wasn’t the way Ontario envisioned the start and trailing into the fourth inning wasn’t how the top-seeded Warriors wanted it to go in their final home game of the season.
But panic never set in as Ontario took care of Galion 7-2 in a Division II sectional championship baseball game Thursday evening. It is the Warriors’ fifth straight sectional title and puts them in a rubber match with Shelby in a district semifinal game Thursday at Madison
“There was a sense of calm. It was a matter of getting guys in and getting base hits to fall,” Ontario senior pitcher Paul Homan said.
Hall of Fame coach Dan Gorbett wasn’t as serene.
“I was worried,” he said. “We had guys on second and third twice and guys on first and second and didn’t get them in. I was a little bit concerned. Galion’s a good team and to spot them a lead really had me worried.”
• BIG INNING: Ontario left six runners stranded through the first three innings, manufacturing a run in the first off a walk by Alex Vredenburgh, steal, wild pitch and passed ball.
It remained 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth until the Warriors (21-4) finally got that big hit. Two walks and an error loaded the bases and another walk drawn by Homan tied up the game while bringing up cleanup hitter Mason Goodwin.
He wasn’t looking for a free pass.
“I was seeing the ball well, so I had confidence I would put it in play, put it between the runners and hit it hard. I was looking to hit the entire way,” Goodwin said. “We always have a big inning where we score a lot of runs and get a lot of hits up and down the lineup. We knew it would come. It just came a little bit later than it should have.”
Goodwin drove the ball to left field for a bases-clearing double and chased Tigers’ starter Chad Karnes from the game because of it.
“He crushed a couple balls today and he had a great game. That’s what you expect from seniors in a big game,” Gorbett said, adding, “I was proud of our kids and how resilient they were. We failed in the first and second inning, and we just kept coming and kept coming and finally we broke through and had that big inning.”
• CONTROLLED: No. 9 seed Galion (9-15) got a pair of runs in the first on three hits and a hit batsman of Homan, the reigning News Journal Pitcher of the Year. But Homan got out of the inning and shut out the Tigers the rest of the way.
“I wasn’t really locating like I wanted to today, but we got things going, got the bats going,” Homan said. “It’s always easier to pitch when you have the lead.
“The curveball was working. The changeup was on and off throughout the night. Setting up the fastball with the curveball really worked tonight.”
According to Goodwin, Homan has walked just three batters all season. Against Galion, he threw fewer than 90 pitches in seven innings with 64 going for strikes. He added six strikeouts to go with his six-hitter.
“He is a quality pitcher and one of the best we’ve seen this year and he can throw any pitch for strikes,” Galion coach Phil Jackson said. “When you can do that, you can get out of sticky situations. We were happy to get two and we did have some opportunities later on that I wish we would have capitalized on a little better.”