COPLEY - For Seneca East starting pitcher Mason McWilliams, it wasn't a bad game or even a bad inning.
It was one pitch.
McWilliams, one of the area's best starting pitchers, sailed through a pair of scoreless innings to start Seneca East's regional semifinal game against New Middletown Springfield (19-7), striking out three and not allowing a hit.
Seneca East (23-5) fared no better against Springfield starter Dalton Donachie, and it looked like a pitchers' duel was in the offing.
But in the third, things changed. Joey Wrask's one-out grand slam gave Springfield the lead, and it went on to shut out Seneca East, 6-0.
Springfield's JoJo Carabello laid down a bunt single to start the inning, then moved to second on a sacrifice. McWilliams then hit Ryan Kohler and walked Cody Pitzo to load the bases.
That brought up Wrask. He pulled a McWilliams pitch over the wall in left. It was Wrask's first homer of the season, and just the fourth for Springfield this year.
"We don't really hit a lot of home runs; let's be honest," Springfield coach Matt Weymer said. "With the wind today, he got every bit of it, so good for him."
McWilliams allowed another run in the inning, and SE trailed 5-0 going to the fourth.
"One pitch. That's all it was; one pitch," Seneca East coach Frank Lamoreaux said. "That's two pretty good pitchers going at each other right there."
Seneca East had runners on in every inning but one, but Donachie (7-1) worked out of every threat without damage. It wasn't that he overpowered SE hitters - he had but four strikeouts - but Seneca East wasn't hitting the ball hard. The best contact came from Jordan Bowerman, who lined a Donachie pitch to left center with two outs in the fifth for SE's only hit.
"I think our bats were a little - to say off is going to be an understatement," Lamoreaux said. "We put the ball in play but we just didn't put the ball in play with any authority."
Weymer said Donachie, just a sophomore, has pitched big games before, but this was one of the best.
"When it came down to it, he didn't let the moment get to him," Weymer said. "I looked in the book, (Seneca East) only had one hit, I think? They seemed like they had a lot of guys on base, and it's not just a credit to him but our defense."
McWilliams recovered from the third well. He ended up going a complete-game six innings, striking out eight and allowing just three hits.
"I'll tell you what, Mason is by far the best pitcher we've seen," Weymer said. "He's fantastic."
Springfield scratched out a run in the sixth. Then in the seventh, Donachie retired the first two batters.
Seneca East's last hope was Nate Phillips. Donachie jumped ahead 0-and-2, but Phillips fouled off numerous pitches and worked the count full before walking. Donachie then hit Bowerman before Gus Baldosser hit into a force play to end the game.
To Lamoreaux, Phillips' at-bat summed up his squad.
"It's that don't give up, don't ever say die attitude," Lamoreaux said. "They kept it through the end, so I was pretty proud of the for that."
Springfield takes on Cuyahoga Heights at 5 p.m. today in the regional final.