FOSTORIA - The only answer Fremont St. Joe coach Isidro Bastidas didn't have Wednesday was how to have his team spread out its hitting in a more consistent manner.
Sure, a three-run homer as part of a five-run surge in the third was great to see, and three runs over the final two innings helped the Crimson Streaks turn away Lakota 8-6.
But that Division IV district semifinal win also included three 1-2-3 innings, with Lakota recording eight outs in a row at one point - the final two of the turnaround third, and the next three over the fourth and fifth innings.
Meanwhile, the Raiders had at least one baserunner in each inning, using the those chances to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, tie the game at 5 in the fourth and close to within 7-6 in the sixth.
But each time the Crimson Streaks had the answer to Lakota's answer.
Bastidas' question now is to find a way for the Crimson Streaks (21-6) to get their 21st win in a row when they play Hopewell-Loudon in Friday's 5 p.m finals while reversing their herky-jerky batting.
"Well, I'll tell you what. If you've got that answer, I'll buy it from you and give you a hundred dollars," he said with a laugh. "Those big innings when we score four or five runs are big for us because it keeps us in the games.
"What we try to do, even if they may score one or two ahead of us, we know that because we had a big inning or two, we are in the game," he said. "Yes, it was one [of those games] I wish we had two of those [big innings], but like I said, in that first inning, if we had scored three runs, this game would be over earlier."
Lakota (15-10) shortstop Alaina Bickford helped make sure that didn't happen in the top of the first.
Kristin Sessler led off the game with a single to center and went to third when Be Reardon reached after putting down a bunt and a wide throw pulled the defender off first.
But Bickford snared back-to-back line drives to short and pitcher Brennan Reardon grounded out to pitcher Morgan Gangwer to erase the threat.
"You've got to give the shortstop credit, she grabbed two [line drives]," Bastidas said. "If any of those two go two feet to her right or to her left, we score right away, so you've got to give her credit."
After a short rain delay after Reardon's out, Stephanie Miller led off Lakota's half of the first with double, went to third on Nikkia Cooper's sac bunt and scored on Alaina Bickford's sac fly.
Back-to-back errors put Gangwer and Aubrey Bickford on, but Brennan Reardon snared a line drive in left to halt that rally.
St. Joe looked to blow the game open in the third.
No. 9 hitter Dani Baez lashed a double to right-center, Sessler walked and Ashley Burns hammered a one-out three-run homer to left.
Cassidy Frank reached on an error, Brennan Reardon singled and Amanda Binder bounced into an error that brought in Frank and put runners on the corners.
Alaina Bickford then gobbled up Brigette Fulwider's grounder and fired home to get Brennan Reardon, but catcher Bryan Long-Meyer only touched the plate with her foot and didn't make a tag, apparently thinking the bases were loaded.
The Raiders settled in from there, getting the next two outs and back-to-back 1-2-3 innings.
"Yeah, they had a little bit of an answer every time; we answered, they answered. We gave up a little too much that one inning. That really hurt us," Lakota coach Chris Chalfin said. "But that's what good teams do. You give them five outs an inning, they take advantage of it. And obviously they did.
"They had one key hit that didn't come back. That one hurt," he said.
The Raiders almost made that point moot.
Miller doubled in two runs in the bottom of the fourth, and scored on Alaina Bickford's two-out single. Bickford moved to second on a throw home to try to get Miller, then scored on Gangwer's single to knot the game.
St. Joe broke that tie in the sixth.
Jensen LeJeune reached on an error, moved up on Sessler's fielder's choice and scored on Be Reardon's single. Sessler then scored when right fielder Samantha Miller misplayed the hit.
Lakota cut the deficit to a run in the bottom of the frame when Stephanie Miller singled, went to second on Cooper's sac bunt and scored on Alaina Bickford's double.
But a ground out and LeJeune's diving snare of liner in short center halted that rally.
LeJeune's two-out single in the top of the seventh drove in Brennan Reardon, and St. Joe quieted Lakota in the bottom of the inning with the help of a double play to get Be Reardon the pitching win and reach the finals.
"They made a great play in left field early in the game, first inning, saved a run. They made another one out in center field late in the game that saved a run," Chalfin said. "Other than a couple plays, it was really a well-played game on both teams, I thought. Both teams hit the ball well. Unfortunately, somebody's got to win and somebody's got to lose."