Nolan Thomas’s double and two RBIs kept the game close, but Perkins left the tying run on third base in the ninth inning on Friday night to come up short in their first bid for a sectional title in 14 years, losing to Ontario, 6-5.
The Warriors, seeded No. 8 in the Perkins Township contest, scored a trio of runs in the top of the ninth. The Pirates rallied in a spirited comeback, scoring a pair of runs on a fielding error to cut the margin to a single run, but ended their season with a long fly out to centerfield.
Thomas led the offense for Perkins, who were 16-9 this season in the Fremont Ross District.
“The offense was fired up in the ninth inning, and we had the bases loaded when we were down 6-3,” said Thomas. “We knew we had to put the ball in play, and after a couple of curves and a fastball, I got a curve ball and hit it down the left field line for a double.”
The fly ball to center field halted the ninth inning rally, and Perkins’ chances for a title.
“I was pretty sad with the results, but especially because I wasn’t going to play with our talented seniors again,” said Thomas, a 6-1, 190-pound shortstop who also plays first base, pitches and swings a big bat. A major concern this summer will be surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder.
“Baseball’s my main game, so I probably won’t play basketball this fall. I want to focus on baseball,” he said. “And another SBC title. We haven’t won the conference since 2014, and I know we can go all the way to state next year. We have some great players coming back. I’m ready for the grind, putting in the work needed to be my best.”
Dylan Crabtree also paced the Pirates with two hits and scored a run. Adding singles were Bryan Collier, Landon Kim and John Zweisler, who was the losing pitcher in relief of Kim, who allowed three runs on seven hits with five strikeouts.
“It was a tough, but exciting game,” said Kim, the ace of the pitching staff this spring with an 8-0 record as the Pirates finishing 16-9 on the year. “We really ate up the innings early. We came so close to pulling it off, with the tying run on base in the last of the ninth inning.”
Kim will move on to Capital University in Columbus, where he will play baseball and major in exercise science and physical therapy.
Kim credits Head Coach T.J. Blanton for their success, installing a spirit of cohesiveness in the tightly-knit squad.
“Coach Blanton brought in a great system the last two years, and really pulled us all together to be a winner,” Kim said. “We became a team of ‘we,’ not ‘me,’ this year. We really play like a team.”
“We had a great team spirit,” said junior third baseman and pitcher Zwiesler. “We stayed disciplined with a positive attitude. We would feed off each other, and never get down.
“Our objective all year was to play the game, and have fun,” he said. “With some great players coming back next year, we’re extremely positive for next season.”