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Pirates’ baseball season ended by Lehman, again

Cavaliers rally to oust Riverside in sectional final

RIV-baseball-1
Riverside catcher Dalton Bollinger tags out a Lehman Catholic player at home plate during the fourth inning of their Division IV sectional championship game Wednesday in Botkins. (EXAMINER PHOTO | AARON LABATT)

BOTKINS — It was an all too familiar feeling for Riverside’s baseball team here Wednesday.

An early lead squandered, a jarring comeback and a difficult loss to end the season.

For the second year in a row, Lehman Catholic overcame an early deficit to clip Riverside 3-1 at Volunteer Field in a Division IV sectional final.

“That’s a tough one,” said an emotional Riverside head coach Scott Mann. “That’s two in a row now we’ve lost to them like this.”

The state-ranked Cavaliers (20-6) also rallied to stun the Pirates 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh inning in last year’s sectional final.

“You have to come out with focus and work the fundamentals to win and we didn’t have that for all seven innings,” said Mann.

“We had a lot of opportunities throughout this game. We were trying to get that big hit and couldn’t. I really think if we could have gotten that and put some pressure on them, or scored another run, then we would have been OK.”

The Pirates, who were ranked 13th in the final state poll, finish the season with an 18-9 record.

Riverside’s Dustin Proffitt started the game off with a single. Four batters later, he was driven in by Landon Kelsey with an RBI double to give the Pirates an early 1-0 lead.

From that point, it was a back-and-forth battle of standout defense and strong pitching.

Dallas Daniels pitched 51⁄3 strong innings for the Pirates with six strikeouts, but the Cavaliers found a spark in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Lehman had its first two batters reach base on Riverside errors. The Cavs’ next batter hit a shot down the left field line for a two-run double to score two runs and take a 2-1 lead.

Proffitt came in to pitch for the Pirates and helped record two outs, but then a bad stroke of luck hit Riverside.

It appeared that the next Lehman Catholic batter had struck out for the third out of the fifth inning, but the umpire ruled there was catcher interference and awarded the Cavalier batter first base.

The next hitter for Lehman recorded a hit up the middle for an RBI single to give his squad a 3-1 advantage.

“Dallas had a great game for us,” said Mann. “We just had a couple of errors in that fifth inning that really cost us and we couldn’t come back.

“That late in the game you can’t make mistakes. You have to do the fundamentals to beat them and they made the plays on us.”

Riverside got out of the fifth inning without giving up another run, but were never able to make a scoring threat the rest of the game.

“I told these seniors, at a time when Riverside athletics haven’t been very successful you’ve managed to win over 50 games in three years,” said Mann.

“They are great kids who work hard. They do everything you ask of them. They’ve won two Northwestern Central Conference titles in the past three years and laid the foundation for future success at Riverside.”

Kelsey led the Riverside offense, going 2-3 with a double and an RBI, while Proffitt and Conner Cotterman each recorded hits.

Lehman moves on to face Arcanum on Friday at Newton High School in the district championship game.

LEHMAN CATHOLIC 3, RIVERSIDE 1

Pirates    100    000    0    —    1    4    3

Cavaliers    000    030    X    —    3    8    1

Daniels, Proffitt (5) and Bollinger; Bosway and Schutt. WP—Schutt; LP—Daniels.

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