Saline won two games from Skyline by the narrowest of margins Thursday to improve to 14-0 in the SEC Red and clinch the SEC Red title.
The Hornets won the opener, 2-1, to officially seal the deal. Then they won the nightcap, 5-4.
The team won while head coach Dave Sontag was in the hospital undergoing tests for an illness that’s kept him away from the team.
Cole Daniels was the winning pitcher and drove in the game-winning run in the opener.
Daniels overpowered the Skyline hitters. In six innings he gave up one run on two hits and five walks while striking out nine. Danny Weidmayer pitched one inning of scoreless relief. He gave up a hit and struck out one.
Saline had seven hits, but Skyline pitcher Eamon Horwedal walked just two.
The Hornets opened the scoring in the bottom of the third. Vinnie Patteri ignited the offense with a single to center. Noah Nelson followed with a single to left. Jacob Ohren-Hoeft singled to left, scoring Patteri. Cole Daniels walked to load the bases but Horwedal pitched out of the jam.
Skyline scored its run in the top of the fifth. Daniels walked the lead off man. He stole second. The next runner reached on a fluke hit off the end of the batt that rolled down the baseline and hit third base. The next batter hit a sacrifice fly to right field, tying the game at 1.
Saline wasted no time replying. Nelson drilled a one-out double to left field and then scored on Daniels’ line single to left. Nelson finished the game with 3 hits and a run scored. Jack O’Keefe, Daniels, Ohren-Hoeft and Patteri also had hits.
Here are the Mancino’s Pizza & Grinders 3 Stars from Game 1.
- Cole Daniels – Overpowered many Skyline hitters. Might have had a shutout were it not for a fluky hit that tied the game. Daniels helped his own cause by driving in Nelson for the game-winning hit.
- Noah Nelson – Went 3-for-3 and had a hard double that led to him scoring the game-winning run. Nelson was also strong in the field.
- Danny Weidmayer – Battled with his curve a little bit, but pitched a strong, scoreless seventh inning and, with the tying run in scoring position, froze the hitter for the strikeout to end the game.
In the second game, Saline had seven hits again – but this time they turned seven hits into five runs – thanks in large part to six walks pitchers and two errors.
Saline gave up two runs in the top of the seventh, allowing Skyline to tie the game at four. In the bottom of the seventh, Cole Daniels and Logan Evans walked. With two out, Reagn Miller reached on an error in the infield and Daniels scored to win the game.
Relief pitcher Ryan Steinhauer earned the win. He allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings. He struck out three. Lance Blaszak allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits and two walks over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out four.
Daniels drove in three runs and Paul Kiyabu went 2-for-3. Nelson went 2-for-3. Evans, Ohren-Hoeft and Miller also had hits, including Miller’s double.
There was no score until the bottom of the third. With one out, Blaszak reached base on a dropped third strike. Kiyabu singled, advancing courtesy runner Aidan Corrigan to second. Patteri loaded the bases when his flyball dropped for an error in right. Nelson singled to left for Saline’s first run. Daniels singled to center to drive in two more.
On the mound, Blaszak had a no-hitter until there were two out in the fourth. Blaszak had hit hit three batters and walked another before giving up a single with two out in the fourth.
In the fifth, Skyline got on the board with a walk, a wild pitch, a couple ground balls and a single.
Saline added a run in the bottom of the inning. Nelson walked. He advanced to third base after a wild pickoff attempt. He scored on Daniels’ sacrifice fly to left.
Skyline added a run in the top of the sixth. After giving up two singles, Blaszak was relieved by Steinhauer with one out. After a passed ball, Skyline scored a run after an error by Steinhauer.
Skyline made it interesting in the top of the seventh. Steinhauer got the first batter on a foul tip. Then he hit the next Skyline batter and the next battler doubled, putting runners at second and third with one out. Horwedek singled to center, scoring two and tying the game. Saline was in trouble when the next batter reached on an error, putting the leading run in scoring position. But Steinhauer picked off the runner at third base and then he struck out the next batter. Saline won it in the bottom of the seventh.