Warren outslugs Jackson in sectional
VINCENT — The old adage that good things come in threes proved to be oh so true Saturday afternoon for the Warren Warriors baseball team.
The eighth-seeded Warriors pounded out three triples with two of them driving in three runs as they downed the number nine-seeded Jackson Ironmen 9-5 in Division II, sectional tournament play at Warren High School.
Warrior shortstop Seth Dennis accounted for two of those three-baggers including a bases-clearing one down the right field line that gave Warren the early lead in the second inning.
Warren loaded the bases in four of its six times at bat, including the first two innings when Jackson starting pitcher Brice Graham experienced a bit of wildness.
Graham walked the bases loaded in the first but got off the hook when right fielder Ty Ruckel made a nice running catch on a drive off the bat of Brett Gandee. Thomas Miller and Hunter Vincent walked to begin the Warriors second and after Noah Edgell laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position, center-fielder Drew Huffman was plunked by a Graham pitch to load the bases once again.
Dennis lined a bullet down the right field line for a triple will all three runners crossing the plate to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead.
Second baseman Evan Gandee dropped a single into shallow right-center field to score Dennis with the fourth run of the inning.
The Warriors added a fifth run in the second when Brett Gandee and Vincent each singled and Edgell grounded into a force out.
Brett Gandee started the game for WHS and allowed just two hits and no runs through the first three innings before JHS came off the mats in a big way in the top of the fourth to tie the game.
Hunter Blankenship and Graham collected back-to-back singles to open the inning before third baseman Ty Broerman doubled to score the first Jackson run of the game.
A sacrifice fly by Ruckel and a double steal scored two more runs and the Ironmen took advantage of a pair of Warrior fielding errors to tie the game at 5-5.
Warren wasted little time regaining the lead as Dennis tripled for the second time to begin the bottom of the fourth and Evan Gandee brought him in with an infield groundout.
Warren head coach Ryan Lemley thought Dennis’ second triple was every bit as key as his earlier one.
“I thought that hit was big for us after we had that bad inning where made a couple of errors and let them tie the game,” said Lemley. “We came right out and got one back and it stayed that way. I was proud of the kids for responding and that was a huge hit by Seth (Dennis).”
Warrior sophomore Kurt Taylor came on in relief of Gandee to start the fifth inning and held the Ironmen scoreless over the next two frames despite pitching himself out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth.
Warren was able to add a little insurance in the last of the sixth and once again it would be via the triple.
Huffman was hit by a pitch to begin the inning and Dennis sacrificed him to second.
Evan Gandee followed with a walk and one out later Taylor was also hit by a pitch to load the bases yet again.
Brett Gandee made Jackson pay for its wildness as he lined a shot into the right-center field gap for a three-run triple and a 9-5 Warrior lead.
“I’m not sure that we had three triples on the season going into today,” joked Lemley. “They were all big and Brett’s one kind of put a dagger in them.”
After retiring the first batter in the top of the seventh, Taylor allowed a Broerman single and walked designated hitter Logan Massie.
Lemley elected to replace Taylor with Huffman on the mound and the lefthander retired the final two hitters to clinch the win.
“I thought all of our kids did a great job on the mound today of not letting any external stimulus get to them,” said Lemley. “Brett threw very well… we just didn’t make some plays behind him and Kurt and Drew came in and shut them down.”
The win was the eighth in a row for the Warriors, who improved to 16-7 with the win and are playing their best ball of the season at the perfect time.
The Warriors will try to keep things going Monday night when they travel to Chillicothe to take on number one seeded Unioto in the sectional semifinal.