Locked in a pitching duel for the first five innings of Thursday’s Sectional final game against their Southwestern Conference foes from North Ridgeville, the Olmsted Falls Bulldogs needed a timely hit to propel them to District.
Tyler Urban was the right man in the right spot as he launched a double off the base of the wall in the fifth setting up a three-run inning that allowed the Bulldogs to escape with a 3-2 victory.
“Any day you win is a good day,” Bulldogs senior Teddy Grendzynski said. “Being able to hold them off the board and to keep the momentum on our side it’s huge. Then doing the opposite on our side, getting guys on base and capitalizing really made the difference.”
Grendzynski, who pitched on his birthday, struck out eight and gave up just four hits to the Rangers, while helping his own cause with an RBI triple in the fifth, before Jack Spellacy brought him home for what ended up being the winning run.
“This team is like a brotherhood honestly,” Grendzynski said. “It’s a family outside of your family, coming in here everyday with these guys, working with them and now finally seeing the fruits of our labor coming to fruition is special.”
The Rangers rallied in the bottom of the seventh, scoring Cade Riley and Mikey Richmond on a line drive double by Nate Kisel. Kisel was stranded on second to end the game though, as Grendzynski struck out Carson Schneller.
“That’s what they are,” North Ridgeville head coach Mathew Ponting said. “They don’t give up. We had a team meeting right before we went out for the last inning and every guy it looked like, in their eyes, they thought we were going to go back out and take that game.”
North Ridgeville stranded seven baserunners in the first three innings, while starting pitcher Derrick Wolf held the Bulldogs off the basepaths. The first Olmsted Falls base runner came in the bottom of the third as Cody McJunkins drew a walk to open the inning, and then advanced to second on a sacrifice by Alex Jarvis, before Wolf retired the rest of the side in order.
“We’ve had a couple of comeback wins,” Ponting said. “But today we just couldn’t get that last hit we needed. We had chances all game and we couldn’t get a hit with two outs or guys on base, their pitcher threw an outstanding game, he made big pitches when he needed them.”
In the top of the third the Rangers loaded the bases with just one down. Grendzynski struck out the next batter before forcing a groundout to end the threat. Ponting knew just one timely hit could have changed the outcome of the entire game.
“That was the game,” Ponting said. "You score a couple of runs early and you can play a little bit different, it loosens you up, it’s always good to get the first one, it can change the game, and how everything plays out.”
The Rangers will lose 13 seniors heading into the 2020 season, but with a pool of talent that has excelled on the JV level, Ponting is confident that the program will only get better in the coming years.
“We have a good group coming up, both teams have had success at the lower levels,” Ponting said. “So we’ll be fine, it’s just you never want to play in your last game, so it’s tough.”
Olmsted Falls advanced to the District round, continuing their outstanding season that saw the Bulldogs take home their first conference title in 18 years.
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