Warren Warriors defeat Waverly 1-0 for sectional win

Warren’s Chase Weihl readies a pitch during a high school sectional championship game Thursday against Waverly. Photo by Mike Morrison.

VINCENT — The past two seasons have come to an end in heart breaking fashion for Warren head coach Ryan Lemley and his Warriors.

Thursday evening it would be the boys in the white and blue dishing out the heart break as the Warriors scored a walk-off 1-0 win over the visiting Waverly Tigers to claim a Division II sectional championship.

Warren starting pitcher Chase Weihl fired a six-hit shutout and also singled in the game winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning as the fourth seeded Warriors eliminated the number five seeded Tigers.

“These kids have been with me all three years and we got beat on a walk-off at Athens when they were sophomores and beat on a walk-off last year by Marietta,” said Warren head coach Ryan Lemley. “To win in walk-off fashion I think is fitting.”

The matchup between two of the best pitchers in the district lived up to it’s billing as Weihl and Waverly starter Clayton Howell matched each other zero for zero for the first six innings of the contest.

Howell may have been even more dominant than his opposite number for the bulk of the game as he did not allow a Warren basehit until the final frame while only walking one batter.

Waverly collected six hits off of Weihl but failed to come up with the clutch hit that would have given them the lead.

“I thought our kids played a great game defensively and I thought Chase (Weihl) pitched a whale of a game,” said Lemley. “It was one of those games where both pitchers really didn’t make any mistakes at all so hats off to Clayton (Howell) as well as he threw a great game.”

The Tigers missed what may have been their best opportunity to score in the top of the sixth when Drew Harris singled with one out but was picked off of first base by Weihl.

Howell followed with a double to the fence in left field before Weihl fanned John Thompson to end the inning.

After The Warriors went down in order in the last of the sixth inning, Waverly followed suit in the top of the seventh to set up the thrilling finish.

Shortstop Bryce Gandee got things started by reaching base on an infield hit off of the second basemens glove and Tanner Proctor drew a walk to move Gandee into scoring position.

Lemley elected to have the six-foot-seven inch Weihl take his hacks instead of asking him to bunt and that decision paid huge dividends when Weihl jumped all over Howell’s first pitch and drilled it on one hop off the fence in left field to allow Gandee to score easily for the walk-off win.

“Normally I have Chase (Weihl) bunt right there but I thought after the walk he (Howell) might take a little bit off one to get ahead in the count,” said Lemley. “I thought I would let him have the first pitch and he jumped all over it.”

Weihl thought that Lemley was going to have him bunt as he walked to the plate but was thrilled to get the green light to swing away.

“I really thought he was going to ask me to bunt and when he didn’t I went up there ready to hit,” said Weihl of the game winning hit. “He (Howell) kind of hung a curveball a little bit and I gave everything I had on it.”

Weihl fanned six and didn’t walk a single Waverly hitter.

“I felt great today and I was able to throw all four of my pitches for strikes,” said Weihl. “You really feel the pressure in a close game like that but our defense did a great job.”

Warren improved to 16-8 on the season with the win while Waverly’s season comes to a close with a 17-8 mark.

The Warriors will wrap up regular season play tonight when they host Marietta on senior night before opening district play Monday night (5 p.m.) against Sheridan at Ohio University.