NEW RIEGEL - One of the beautiful aspects of the game of baseball is that fortunes can change on one swing of the bat.
After a Division IV sectional final against Riverdale, New Riegel's Andrew Hohman said one of the characteristics of his Blue Jacket team was that whenever someone makes a mistake, they make sure to come back and get the next play.
That was a pretty good illustration of Hohman's afternoon.
In the fifth inning, Hohman made an error that later turned into a Riverdale run. But the next inning he came back with a diving stop to rob the Falcons of a base hit.
Hohman was 0 for 2 at the plate when stepped into the box in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded and his team down a run.
"Andrew was due," New Riegel coach Jarron Reesman said. "I don't think he had a hit tonight going into that and that's not Andrew. So, I told him before he got up to bat 'There's not four other hitters I want coming up than the next four guys I got coming up to win the game right now.'"
Hohman laced a one-strike pitch into center field.
"He threw me a curveball, I just sat on it, just tried to poke it out there," Hohman said. "All we needed was a base hit to win. So I wasn't trying to do too much with it."
Blaine Hughes easily scored from third base. Pinch runner Nick Wank rounded third as the throw came into home.
"I was like 'Oh, God, oh, God. Please get there, please get there,'" Hohman said.
The throw seemed to beat Wank home as Riverdale catcher Dillon Farrow had his glove on the plate ready to meet Wank. But instead of sliding into the tag, Wank stepped over the glove, catching the back of the plate for the winning run and a dramatic 8-7 New Riegel victory.
That concluded a roller coaster final few innings that saw control of the game flip flop back-and-forth. The teams entered the fifth tied at two. Riverdale scored a pair in the top of the inning, only to see the Blue Jackets answer in the bottom with an RBI triple from Brandyn Reinhart and an RBI single from Jake Dryfuse.
Reinhart started on the mound for New Riegel and gave his team a chance to win the game. He tossed five innings, allowing four runs, three earned. He struck out eight and walked six. But it was his bat that nearly drove home the win.
In the sixth, Reinhart laced his second triple in as many innings. This one drove home two for a 6-4 lead, and put Riverdale's season on the brink when the Falcons came up for their final at-bats in the seventh.
"That was clutch," Reesman said. "That's Brandyn. He's been up and down all year at the plate and on the bump. Tonight he was so-so on the mound, came up big when we needed him offensively and on the bump. That's what seniors do, they make plays."
Riverdale wasn't willing to fold up and go home. The first five hitters of the inning reached base with the biggest blow coming when No. 9 hitter Tyler Miller singled home two and gave his team a 7-6 edge.
But in tournament baseball, taking advantage of your opportunities is a must. Riverdale, who had a pair of runners thrown out at home in the early innings, left runners on base in every inning, 12 total in the game. The final three were the biggest as Brady Hall struck out three of the next four Falcon batters, stranding the bases loaded and keeping the Blue Jackets in striking distance when they came up to bat in their half of the seventh.
"The kids played a whale of a ballgame," Riverdale coach Dennis Pees said. "Just couple situations when we had runners on and couldn't get them across, maybe that's the difference. We did everything right, and to play a very good ball club with a good record, two years in a row we fell short by one run against them. Not sure what the answer is, but we got to keep our heads up."
Hughes opened the seventh with a base hit and Aaron Reinhart moved him by reaching base on an error. Austin Mathias walked to load the bases and set the stage for Hohman's heroics.
"One through nine I honestly believe we're one of the best offenses around," Reesman said. "We got, I think, one guy batting under .300. Other than that, I knew we were going to put the bat on the ball. Aaron kind of struggled a little bit with the small-ball not getting (a bunt) down, buy we got him over, which ended up being the winning run anyways. So kids came up clutch. I couldn't ask for a better group of guys. Just a fun group to be around every day."
New Riegel plays Fremont St. Joe in the second game of a district semifinal doubleheader next Wednesday at Marathon Diamonds in Findlay.