Edison walks-off over rival Buckeye Local in 12 innings
RICHMOND — With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 12th inning, senior Andrew Kinney gave coach Mike Collopy a look as he approached the plate.
The veteran Edison baseball coach had a good feeling in that moment, and it proved to be right.
Kinney dropped a hit into the gap in right-center to plate Anthony Sinicropi from third base and end the Division III sectional final marathon, lifting Edison past a pesky Buckeye Local squad, 5-4, for its third straight sectional title and 16th overall.
“He struggled a little bit at the plate, but when he walked up he just gave me the look,” Collopy said. “I pretty much knew he was going to hit it hard somewhere. We’ve had a year where everybody has pretty much had a turn (getting the big hit).
“These guys have been prepared as much, or more, than any team to be in situations like that. It’s their work ethic and ability to respond to anything that has been thrown at them this year.”
It is the longest Edison postseason game since a 2012 sectional game with Big Red that went 15 innings, also a win.
“We just told them to keep playing and stay positive.” Collopy said. “When you get in a game like that, sometimes guys try to do too much. We got it done when we needed to. It was just a heckuva game. It’s been a while since we’ve been in an extra-inning game like this.
“These guys have played extra innings before, but nothing like that. It’s a grind to go 12, and that is a credit to them. This ranks up there (with 2012).”
The No. 2 seed Wildcats (19-5) held 1-0 and 4-2 leads in the first five innings of the game, but the No. 8 seed Panthers (11-13) — who Edison beat twice in the regular season — kept fighting back.
“I told our kids it didn’t matter what happened in the previous two games,” Collopy said. “We knew we were going to get their best. I told them it was going to take — ironically now — seven good innings because (Buckeye Local) doesn’t quit. Coach (Anthony) Barsch does a great job.”
Sinicropi replaced George Ash with two outs in the seventh and went the final 5 1/3 innings, striking out six and yielding just two hits. Ash gave up four runs (three earned) and struck out five in 6 2/3 innings.
“Both of our pitchers threw well,” Collopy said. “George pitched his rear end off. Anthony came in and did exactly what you expect from someone that is a four-year starter. To come into a situation like that and throw lights-out is big.”
As exciting as it was on the Edison side, it was equally heartbreaking for the Panthers.
“Unfortunately, someone has to lose a game like that, and it was us,” Barsch said. “It was a hell of a ball game. Anyone that was here saw a great game. Some days we’ve shown we can play with the best of them, and Edison is a quality program. They are one of the programs we strive to be like. It’s a very tough loss, but I’m proud of the kids’ effort.
“If you would have told me before the game we would be in the 12th inning with Edison with the score tied, I probably would have taken that. Our guys gave us a chance to win, and our coaches gave us a chance to win.”
After Shayne Christian started and went the first five innings, striking out two and giving up four runs (three earned), Gino Barber replaced him and fanned six, while walking three (all intentional) in 6 1/3 innings. Kinney’s game-winning hit was the lone run he yielded.
“Gino did fantastic,” Barsch said. “He was a little under the weather, but he came in and threw good. Shayne threw good.”
Both teams missed chances in extra innings. Edison’s best chance to end the game before the 12th came in the bottom of the ninth when Ryan Higgs led off with a double. Isaac Schmitz moved him to third and put runners on the corners with no outs with a bunt single. Higgs was tagged out at the plate, going for the winning run on a Riley Watson ground ball. Then, Barber fanned Sinicropi. Conrad Gump was intentionally walked to load the bases with two outs, and Barber struck out Alec McBane looking to end the threat.
“We squandered a lot of opportunities and made a lot of mistakes,” Collopy said. “We were fortunate to get the win and make up for that. Whether it was a defensive mistake, baserunning or whatever, our kids just kept playing, and that is a credit to them. This game was about them.”
The Panthers’ best chance at a lead came in the top of the 11th when Ethan McHugh led off with a single and got to third base but was stranded there. In the 10th, Fred Hurtler, who had a three-hit game, also was left in scoring position. In total, Buckeye Local stranded seven runners.
Edison opened the scoring in the bottom of the first after Buckeye Local got two men on with one out in the top half but could not take advantage. Sinicropi led off the bottom of the first with a single, eventually getting to third and scoring on a wild pitch.
The Panthers took their only lead of the game in the top of the third when Matt Scott drove in Owen Long with an RBI single. An Edison throwing error allowed Fred Hurtler to score, as well.
Edison tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom half when Sinicropi reached on an error in the outfield and scored his second run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Ash.
The Wildcats took the lead in the fifth inning with an RBI double by Sinicropi and added to it with a McBane sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.
In the top of the sixth, McHugh got the Panthers back within one with a one-out RBI single up the middle. Lance Novak then evened the score again with an RBI groundout.
LAST HOME GAME
With the rest of tournament taking place at neutral sites, starting Monday with the district semifinals, it was a memorable last home game for the Edison seniors.
“We have a tight-knit group,” Collopy said. “They are very close. It’s nice for the seniors. They hung together and picked each other up.”
The Panthers graduate three starting seniors in Christian, Hurtler and Long. Wyatt Robinson also was a senior on the roster.
“They showed tremendous guts and leadership,” Barsch said. “We’re going to miss them. That’s part of high school athletics.”
As tough of an ending as it was, Barsch was happy with the progress his team showed this season.
“I think it shows Buckeye baseball is headed in the right direction,” he said. “I told these guys this was a step in the right direction to end the slide Buckeye has been on athletically. Our goal was to get over the sectional hump, and we went out and beat Buckeye Trail to get here.
“It’s baby steps. Hopefully, it continues. We’ve got a lot a lot of juniors coming back.”
Buckeye Local: Season over
Edison: Will host Steubenville in a makeup game on Friday before Monday’s district semifinal game against No. 10 seed Martins Ferry, which defeated Tuscarawas Valley, 13-9, in its sectional final. The contest will be held at Mingo Junction.
(Grimm can be reached at email@example.com)
Edison 5, Buckeye Local 4 (12 innings)
Buckeye 0-0-2 0-0-1 0-0-0 0-0-0 — 4-8-3
Edison 1-0-1 0-2-0 0-0-0 0-0-1 — 5-9-3
BUCKEYE LOCAL (11-13): Christian (5IP, 4R, 3ER, 3H, 2K, 0BB, 2HBP), Barber (LP, 6 1/3IP, 1R, 1ER, 6H, 6K, 3BB) and Scott.
EDISON (19-5): Ash (6 2/3IP, 4R, 3ER, 6H, 5K, 2BB), Sinicropi (WP, 5 1/3IP, 0R, 2H, 6K, 0BB) and Gump.
TWO OR MORE HITS: Buckeye Local (Hurtler 3, McHugh 2); Edison (Sinicropi 3, Gump 2). DOUBLES: Buckeye Local none; Edison 2 (Sinicropi, Higgs). TRIPLES: none. HOME RUNS: none. RBIs: Buckeye Local 3 (Scott, McHugh, Novak); Edison 4 (Sinicropi, McBane, Ash, Kinney).