Lancaster, OH – The season came to an heart breaking end for Barons baseball as the Barons fell just short losing 1 to 0 in the Championship game to Miami Hamilton after beating OU Zanesville 8 to 3 in the semi final matchup.
In the 2011 Ohio Regional Campus Tournament, the Barons proved to be both talented and resilient going 4 & 2 in tournament play. After beating OSU Mansfield in round 1 then losing to OU Zanesville in the 2nd round, the Barons had a long road ahead of them to have a chance at a Championship. Facing elimination they beat OU Lancaster 5 to 2 in a game that saw OU Lancaster leading most of the way. Next was a 4 to 2 victory over Miami Middletown in a game that was very close for the entirety and gave the Barons the chance to play in the ORC Tournament semifinal game for the 2nd consecutive year, as in 2010 the Barons fell to MU Middletown in extra innings.
“Every member of this team refused to give in. When you get sent to the loser’s bracket that early it’s real easy for a team to pack it in, but these guys refused to do that. The Lancaster game was a battle the whole way. They had all the momentum their way after making some big plays, but our guys never quit and found a way to get the runs needed for the win. Then, with Middletown we knew it was going to be a very tough matchup. We had their number this year beating them four times in the regular season, but all of those games except one were very close games. It’s hard to beat a team that many times, especially a team as talented as Middletown,” said Head Coach Abe Ambroza.
In the semifinal game versus OU Zanesville, the Barons jumped out to an early 3 to 0 lead in the first inning by stringing together 4 straight hits. However, OUZ was able to put the brakes on the Barons offense the next 4 innings while chipping away at the lead with 1 run in the 3rd and another in the 4th. Then, in the top of the 6th the Barons broke the game open a bit adding 4 runs to their lead with several 2 out hits. “That’s been a big story all season for us. With 2 outs we’ve done a great job of extending innings and giving our chance at some more runs. It just shows you the mental toughness that these guys have,” said Ambroza.
In the championship game the Barons were matched up against #1 seed Miami Hamilton. The Barons lost 4 times in the regular season to Hamilton and definitely had revenge in mind when the game meant the most. Early the Barons were able to put runners in scoring position, but just weren’t able to get a big hit. Several times, with a runner at 2nd the Barons lined ground balls down the 3rd base line that went just inches foul. In the 4th inning Hamilton managed to score their only run as starting pitcher Russell Lammers hit the leadoff hitter, who was later bunted over to 2nd then scored on a passed ball and errant throw over the Barons third baseman. In the 6th inning the Barons had a runner on 2nd with 1 out and Lammers at the plate. Lammers smashed an inside pitch right down the 3rd base line that the Hamilton 3rd baseman dove and stopped, then threw Lammers out. “That play was the game. If their guy doesn’t make that play, we’ve just tied the game and have the go ahead run at 2nd plus a lot of emotion on our side. Who knows what happens. Unfortunately for us though, he made a great play and you have to just tip your cap at this point,” said Ambroza. The next Barons hitter lined out to second, and they never threatened again, eventually falling by the score of 0 to 1. “I am extremely proud of the guys. They never quit this entire tournament. Today, Rusty (Lammers) threw one heck of a game. I wish we could’ve got a couple to get him the win, but man he needs to be proud of the work he did today. Being a part of this here, you can see that the future looks bright for all of us in the Barons uniforms. Can’t wait to get back at it already,” Said Ambroza!