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Baseball falls short of conference title

By MICHAEL LEONARD Sports Editor Published: May 7, 2017 12:00 AM
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AURORA -- Heading into its final Suburban League American Conference series of the spring with Aurora, the Tallmadge baseball team knew it controlled its own destiny.

If the Blue Devils were able to sweep the Greenmen, the two teams would share the American Conference title. Anything else and Aurora would claim the title outright.

Tallmadge forced the Greenmen to wait at least 24 hours to earn that crown.

That's because the Blue Devils scored a 7-3 victory over host Aurora May 2 at Ed Sherwin Field.

That meant the May 3 contest at Dave Young Field turned into an American Conference championship game for Tallmadge.

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Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, Aurora scored an 8-1 win to claim the outright conference title.

Prior to the Aurora series, Tallmadge gave itself a major feather in its cap, as it handed Jackson a 7-4 loss in a game shortened by rain April 29 in Massillon.

It was first loss of the season for the Polar Bears, who were ranked No. 1 in a recent Division I state coaches poll.

The Blue Devils' record stood at 16-5 as of press time. Tallmadge finished 8-4 in the American Conference. The Greenmen finished 10-2 in the conference.

Blue Devils head coach Kenny Linn said May 2 he was happy his team had rallied to put itself in a position to play for the title.

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"It's not exactly the best conditions to play in," he said. "We've got a lot of wind and it's cold. We never gave up on that [winning the American Conference]. It's tough to win this conference every year."

"I think we gave away some outs [May 2]," Aurora coach Michael Brancazio said. "That happens in baseball sometimes. They're a pretty good team."

In the May 3 game, the Greenmen opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning, as center fielder Jonathan Blue singled and Jacob Blue walked. After a wild pitch, Jonathan Blue scored on a fielder's choice by catcher Bubba Arslanian.

However, after that, Aurora had a hard time dealing with Tallmadge right-hander Zach Boyd (3-2). Boyd pitched a complete game, giving up three runs on five hits.

"Zach has done a great job for us every time he's gone out there this year," Linn said. "He has given us a chance to win."

The Blue Devils tied the game in the top of the third. Left fielder Sam Seeker doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly from Phil Glasser.

Tallmadge took advantage of Aurora's miscues in the the fourth.

A walk by Seth Gergely, a single by Boyd and throwing error allowed Gergely to score, followed by a run-scoring double from center fielder Jared Burick.

That spelled the end for Greenmen starter Jaret Rose (3-1), who lasted just three innings, allowing four earned runs on four hits.

Burick was thrown out in a rundown, but a walk an a two-base error allowed two more runs to score.

Catcher Rich Eyre then put down a squeeze bunt to score second baseman Jake Rensel. Eyre was then safe on a throwing error, but Sam Seeker was thrown out at the plate, leaving the score a 6-1.

A run-scoring single from Aurora second baseman Drew McVay cut it to 6-2 after four innings.

The Blue Devils got the run back thanks to Sam Seeker's first varsity home run, as he smacked a solo shot over the right-field fence in the top of the sixth.

The Greenmen came back with one run in the bottom of the sixth, as a leadoff double from Arslanian was followed by a run-scoring single from third baseman Brent Henderson.

However, Boyd put Aurora down in order in the seventh to clinch the win.

On May 3, Tallmadge outhit the Greenmen 5-4, but Aurora did a better job on the base paths.

Greenmen pitcher Zach Elsawy got the win, limiting the Blue Devils to one earned run on five hits in six innings of work. Chase Coady pitched a scoreless seventh inning.

Burick, a right-hander, took the loss for Tallmadge.

Sam Seeker drove in the Blue Devils' lone run with his second solo home run is as many days. Rensel had a double and Gergely and Taylor each had singles for Tallmadge.

Against Jackson, Burick and junior right-hander Mikah McGlaughlin combined to keep the Polar Bears in check on the mound.

The Blue Devils' offense was led by Eyre with a double, a single and a run batted in, while Scott Seeker, Sam Seeker and Burick each had a single and an RBI.

Tallmadge was set to close out the regular season this week by hosting Akron Archbishop Hoban May 8 at 5 p.m. and Massillon Perry May 13 at noon.

The Blue Devils were given the No. 2 seed and a bye in the first round in the Akron Division II sectional-district tournament.

Mogadore Field received the top seed and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and Norton earned the third and fourth seeds, respectively.

Tallmadge is scheduled to play the Canton South-Akron Kenmore winner in a Division II sectional title game May 9 at 4:30 p.m. at Dave Young Field.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

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