Mother Nature laid the only hand on the Lady Lancers last week. A Thursday afternoon thunderstorm pushed back No. 4 Lakewood’s regional semifinal with No. 3 LaGrange Keystone to Friday. Lakewood took a 2-0 lead in the second and held it as junior Alyssa Patznick pitched herself out of several jams. The Lady Lancers added four more runs in the fifth inning and finished with a 8-0 shutout of the Wildcats Patznick struck out 11 for her third straight tournament shutout.
In Saturday’s regional final at Bucyrus, Lakewood faced 22-7 Clyde who defeated Columbus DeSales 2-1 in 11 innings on Wednesday. After a scoreless first inning, the Lady Lancers took a 2-0 lead in the second.
An unlucky for Clyde 13 batters came to the plate for Lakewood in third inning. Lakewood opened the inning with three straight hits doubling their lead to 4-0. A single, walk and infield hit made it 5-0. Two throwing errors by the Fliers and a triple by Courtney Kidwell doubled it again to 10- 0. Two more singles brought it to 11-0. After a scoreless fourth inning, two more singles in the fifth inning made it 12-0.
It was a three up - three down inning for the Fliers in the bottom of the fifth as Patznick struck out the last two batters for her now fourth consecutive tournament shutout and for the early mercy rule win.
After two consecutive Division III state championships, the Lady Lancers advance to the Division II state championship facing No. 2 Greenville at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 3 at Firestone Stadium in Akron. The other semi-final pits No. 1 Poland Seminary against No. 5 New Concord John Glenn. The championship is set for 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 5.
While the Lady Lancers made it look easy last week, the Lancers won their regional final in Zanesville with one of the craziest plays in history. In Thursday’s semi-final against Richmond Edison, Lakewood pitcher Justin White dominated batters in the sultry game. The Lancers took a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning with two outs as Bryan Large doubled, Travis Lester walked after taking the count to 3-2 and Jacob Gray singled up the middle to score two runs. The Lancers added another run in the third inning on a walk to Large and a double by Lester. Lakewood scored again in the fifth on a lead-off single by Jordan Gray, a sacrifice bunt by his cousin, Hunter Gray and Large’s almost a home run double.
White held Edison hitless through four innings and finished with a two-hitter, striking out eight batters, including the last two for the 4-0 shutout.
In Friday’s regional final, Lakewood faced No. 4 Zanesville who bested Circleville Logan Elm 11-2 in their semi-final. After a scoreless first inning, Lakewood took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second on a walk and two singles. In the third inning, three Blue Devil singles made it a 2-1 game. The Lancers tied it up in the fourth on two singles and that’s how it stayed until the top of the seventh. After two outs, the Lancers had four straight hits with Jacob Gray driving in the winning run with the bases loaded and two strikes. In the bottom of the seventh, Large got the first two batters out on a ground out and a strike out. He walked Zack Pollock on a 3-2 count. Michael Lynn then hit a grounder to third and it appeared Lynn was out at first. That’s how it looked to the home plate umpire who said it’s over and started to walk away. Lakewood catcher Hunter Gray was heading toward his dugout and pitcher Bryan Large was at the mound.
The first base umpire saw the play a bit differently and ruled Lynn safe. Pollock kept running and was rounding third when first baseman Lester saw what was happening. A sprinting Lester dove to tag out Pollock at home plate to preserve the 3-2 lead for the win. Large held the normally hot-hitting Blue Devils to just four singles, striking out six.
With their win, Lakewood broke up a 1-2-3-4 ranking matchup at the state tournament. The 27-4 and unranked Lancers take on 28-1 and No. 2 Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit at 7 p.m. Friday, June 4 in the state semifinal at Huntington Park. The other semi-final pits 32-0 and No. 1 Plain City Jonathan Alder against 29-1 and No. 3 Defiance. The state final is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 5.
The Liberty Union Lady Lions were the third lake-area district champion. Liberty Union knocked off No. 1 Richwood North Union to win their Division III district. They faced in No. 2 Piketon in a regional semifinal last Wednesday in Lancaster. That game was decided on the first pitch when Piketon’s Holly Brabson hit a home run. After that blow, Liberty Union sophomore pitcher Sarah Klopfer and Piketon’s Shella Zimmerman allowed a total of four hits and no runs. Klopfer struck out six. Piketon then beat Lucasville Valley 2-1 in an extra inning marathon in the regional final.