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AKRON -- Nothing beats experience in the postseason and a good number of Tallmadge baseball players have reached the district level three straight years.
Thus, it was no surprise the second-seeded Blue Devils showed some poise in a 6-2 win over sixth-seeded Akron Springfield May 17 in a Division II district semifinal at Canal Park in Akron.
With the win, Tallmadge (20-6) advanced to play fifth-seeded Canal Fulton Northwest in the district final at Canal Park May 18. Northwest upset previously undefeated Field 8-5 in nine innings May 17.
Although the Spartans came into the game with a record of 8-18, Blue Devils head coach Kenny Linn didn't take Springfield lightly.
"Sometimes, the toughest games to play are the ones where the kids are 100 percent convinced they will win," Linn said. "(Springfield) competed from one through nine in the lineup and from out No. 1 to No. 21. We knew we were going to be in a dogfight and we let them know it would be."
Linn was able to lean on ace right-hander Zach Boyd (4-2), who pitched a complete game, allowing two earned runs on six hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
"Two years ago as a freshman, Zach played in the district final for us," Linn said. "He showed he knows what to do at this level."
"It definitely gives me a lot more confidence having played in the district final," Boyd said. "My fastball was my best pitch by far. I couldn't get the curveball over, so I stuck with the fastball."
Tallmadge opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning.
Walks to designated hitter Josh Taylor and center fielder Jared Burick were followed by a single by second baseman Jake Rensel.
With two outs, shortstop Phil Glasser hit a two-run single, which caused Springfield coach Randy Jarvis to pull starting pitcher Colin Hormish after just 1-2/3 innings.
Tallmadge right fielder Seth Gergely greeted reliever Cameron Schultz with a run-scoring double to make it 3-0 after two innings.
Schultz kept the Blue Devils in check until the sixth when the Spartans' offense showed life.
After a walk and an infield single, Springfield third baseman Travis Whitecotton smacked a two-run double to right center, cutting the lead to 3-2.
However, in the bottom of the sixth, Tallmadge struck back.
With one out, Jake Rensel doubled and Derek Lightel came on to pinch run. Catcher Rich Eyre singled, but Glasser struck out.
Gergely then came through with a single through the hole at first to score to runs. Gergley scored himself on a run-scoring double from Boyd to make it 6-2.
Boyd gave up a walk in the seventh, but slammed the door on the Spartans to send the Blue Devils to the final.
Prior to the district semifinal, Tallmadge celebrated Senior Night May 15 with a 7-6 win over Massillon Washington at Dave Young Field.
The Blue Devils used six different pitchers in the win over the Tigers. Josh Taylor, Tallmadge's lone senior, went 2-of-4 with a single, a double, a run batted in and two runs scored in the win.
Boyd smacked a two-run home run and Glasser had a double and two RBIs.