Crestview’s Clifton stymies second-ranked Coldwater
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 12:00 AM
By Jim Cox
Crestview sophomore Colby Clifton throws a pitch in a game against Minster in this file photo. Clifton held Coldwater to a single unearned run in the Knights’ 6-1 win on Monday. (dhi MEDIA file photo)
dhi MEDIA Correspondent
COLDWATER — Two of the best teams in the region, Coldwater (ranked #2 in Division III) and Crestview (ranked #20 in Division IV), met Monday with hopes of a win and preparation for mid-week district action. Both teams were saving their top pitchers for the tournament, but the Knights got an unexpected gem from sophomore lefty Colby Clifton, upsetting the Cavaliers, 6-1.
Crestview (16-6) returns to the Coldwater field Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. to face Marion Local (12-13) in a district semifinal. The Cavs (24-4) play Parkway (14-13) Thursday at 4:15 at Ohio Northern.
The Knights jumped on Coldwater starter Brandon Wolters for two runs in the top of the first, and, surprisingly to most, that would turn out to be enough. Center fielder Cam Etzler started it by dribbling an infield single down the third base line and taking second when the late throw was over the first baseman’s head, then going to third on a passed ball. After first baseman Damian Helm walked, right fielder Jordan Roop hit an opposite-field sacrifice fly to left, scoring Etzler. Helm then took second on a wild pitch and scored from there when catcher Nate Owens ripped an opposite-field single through the right side.
Crestview made it 5-0 with three more runs in the fifth. Second baseman Brock Rolsten led off with a walk, and Etzler was hit by a pitch. Helm’s grounder got through the second baseman, scoring Rolsten and moving Etzler to third. Roop plated Etzler with a force-out, shortstop to second baseman, then took second when the attempted double play throw to first was high. Consecutive singles by Owens and third baseman Isaiah Simerman scored Roop with the third run of the inning.
Coldwater scored its lone run, unearned, in the bottom of the fifth, but Crestview promptly trumped that with a run in the top of the sixth. With two out, Etzler smoked a liner to left center that bounced to the fence for a double. Helm beat out a dribbler to third, putting runners on the corners, and Roop drove in his third run of the game with a line single to right center.
“Colby just pitched a gem,” said Knight coach Jim Wharton. “We told him on Saturday that he had the start. We just told him that he had to get the first pitch over for a strike, and he’s got to be able to throw his curve ball and change-up for a strike. He was able to do that. They hit some balls hard, but they hit ‘em right at us, and he had stellar defense. We scored the two right out of the chute, which was huge. Tip your hat to Colby. He grew up a lot today.”
Clifton went the distance, yielding one run, unearned, and three hits. He walked two and struck out nobody, while plunking one batter, throwing 88 pitches, of which 49 were strikes. He also picked two runners off, one at second base and one at first. Coldwater used five pitchers, none of whom threw more than two innings.
Etzler (2-for-3, including a double, three runs), Roop (1-for-3, one run, three RBI), and Owens (2-for-3, one RBI) led Crestview’s hitting.
“We had our sectional championship (a 1-0 win over New Bremen) on Friday and league championship (an 8-1 win over Columbus Grove) on Saturday, so we were fairly thin with pitching,” said Wharton. “We wanted to ride Colby as long as we could, and his pitch count wasn’t high, so we just rode him. Everybody (on the pitching staff) except Colby will be available on Wednesday.”
During last year’s run to the state tournament, Helm was the ace, with Bryce Richardson the second hurler, and Simerman the third. This year, though, none of the three has thrown many innings. Helm is just rounding into form after missing the first month of workouts because of the state championship basketball run. Richardson has thrown only two innings all year because of a broken nose and a shoulder injury. Simerman has pitched only five innings because of the basketball run and an injury.
Wharton was noncommittal about his pitching plans for Wednesday, and, hopefully, for Friday’s district championship game against either Fort Recovery or Minster. “We’ll need to go back to the drawing board, take a look, and see what we’ve got,” he added. “Our pitching staff’s really done a nice job, especially piecing it together, as banged up as we’ve been all year long. At this point, beating a team like Coldwater, you’ve got to be ecstatic, going into district.”
Crestview 200 031 0- 6 7 1
Coldwater 000 010 0- 1 3 4
Etzler cf 3-3-2-0, Helm 1b 3-1-1-0, x- Lippi pr 0-0-0-0, Roop rf 3-1-1-3, x- Jellison pr 0-0-0-0, Owens c 3-0-2-1, x- Gerardot pr 0-0-0-0, Simerman 3b 4-0-1-1, Richardson dh 4-0-0-0, Miller lf 2-0-0-0, Rickard ss 3-0-0-0, Rolsten 2b 2-1-0-0, Clifton p 0-0-0-0. Totals 27-6-7-5.
Mitch Schoenherr cf 3-0-0-1, Otten 2b 3-0-0-0, Bettinger 1b 2-0-0-0, Heyne lf-3b 3-0-2-0, Muhlenkamp rf-p 2-0-0-0, Klosterman ss-p 3-1-1-0, Spangler c 3-0-0-0, Kramer 3b-rf 2-0-0-0, x- Kraig Schoenherr pr 0-0-0-0, x- McKibben ph 1-0-0-0, Thobe dh-3b-ss 1-0-0-0, Wolters p 0-0-0-0, x- Kunk lf 0-0-0-0, Harlamert c 0-0-0-0. Totals 23-1-3-1.