June 10, 2024 at 4:51 a.m.

Cinderella run comes to an end

Fort Recovery baseball falls 3-2 in state championship game to Hiland
Fort Recovery High School senior Gavin Faller prepares to stretch to receive a throw on a bunt attempt in the OHSAA Division IV state championship game on Sunday. The Indians fell to the No. 1 Hiland Hawks 3-2 to finish as the runners-up for the second time in school history and the first since 1953. (The Commercial Review/Andrew Balko)
Fort Recovery High School senior Gavin Faller prepares to stretch to receive a throw on a bunt attempt in the OHSAA Division IV state championship game on Sunday. The Indians fell to the No. 1 Hiland Hawks 3-2 to finish as the runners-up for the second time in school history and the first since 1953. (The Commercial Review/Andrew Balko)

AKRON, Ohio — The sixth seeded team from the Northwest 3 district found itself in the state championship game.

They picked off the No. 2 seed, two Midwest Athletic Conference teams, a pair of conference champions, including a 20-win team and state-level competitor.

They just happened to run into the top team in the state and defending national champions.

Yet, the Indians came into the game hot, determined to prove they weren’t just a cinderella. The Hawks wouldn’t go down quietly, getting the late-game spark they needed to go back-to-back.

A two-out double by Grady Monigold in the sixth inning pushed the No. 1 Hiland Hawks to a 3-2 victory over the Fort Recovery High School baseball team in the OHSAA Division IV state championship game on Sunday at Canal Park.

“Incredible effort by our kids,” said FRHS coach Kevin Eyink. “Man there were some great plays in that game. … Great hits to start out and we were on fire. We just couldn’t quite hang on, but we gave them everything we had.”

This trip was the Indians’ second time competing in the state championship game, the last coming in 1953 when they lost to Beavercreek.

Fort Recovery looked as if it was going to pull off the upset going as late as the sixth inning before it finally cracked.

Despite facing an 0-2 count, Colin Coblentz shot a single up the middle to lead off the frame for the Hawks (27-5). Brady Yoder’s sacrifice bunt moved him into scoring position.


FRHS junior Caden Grisez delivers a pitch early on in the Indians' 3-2 loss to No. 1 Hiland in the OHSAA Division IV state championship game at Canal Park on Sunday. Grisez had an RBI single and only gave up two earned runs in the loss. (The Commercial Review/Andrew Balko) 

 

Kaden Kandel drew a walk before pitcher Caden Grisez secured the second out of the inning with a fly ball to Alex Dues at shortstop.

Despite nearly every Fort Recovery fan rising to their feet and cheering Grisez on to get the final out, Monigold smashed a deep fly ball to right center field that both Reece Evers and Troy Homan lost in the lights. The ball dropped for a two-RBI single to give Hiland the lead for the first time, which they would never relinquish.

“Props to the other team,” Grisez said. “Hiland is a great hitting team. I was just trying to pitch strikes and let the boys do work in the field. …

“(That situation) might be tough at first but just gotta keep your composure and give it your all, that’s all you can do. I know the outcome isn’t what we wanted, but we gave it our all.”

The Indians (16-13) punched Hiland in the mouth right out of the gate. In the top of the first inning, FRHS got some needed momentum when Riggs Tobe gunned down Caden Coblentz who was trying to steal second. Grisez then punched out Colin Coblentz to give the Indians a little more momentum as they came to the plate the first time.

Troy Homan didn’t waste that momentum, sending the first pitch from Finn Schneider into left field for a double. Reece Wendel’s single moved him to third base before Caden Homan grounded out to second base to drive Troy Homan in.

Upon entering the dugout, Troy Homan shouted to his team “They know we’re here now,” sending the message that Fort Recovery wasn’t content with just making the championship game.

“It was such an adrenaline rush,” Troy Homan said. “It was a dream come true to start a state championship game like that. …

“They thought they had the game won last night already. We wanted to let them know that we were here and they were going to have to play their tails off to get us.”

FRHS scored a second run two batters later on a single that Grisez placed in left field to get Wendel home.

The momentum started to shift in Hiland’s favor in the bottom of the third inning.

Troy Homan led off with a ball hit sharply down the first base line, but the relay throw from second baseman Kandel got the FRHS senior at third base. Left fielder Connor Beachy then took another extra-base hit away from Reece Wendel with an acrobatic catch, eliciting Wendel to tip his helmet. The inning ended on a ground ball by Caden Homan that Yoder fumbled at shortstop, but recovered to get the out.

The following inning, the Hawks scratched their first run of the game as Yoder singled and made his way around on an error by second baseman Sage Wendel.

Yoder also came in to pitch the final three frames of the game and only allowed one base runner to close out the win.

While disappointed and frustrated with the result, many of the Indians expressed their gratitude for the multitude of fans that showed up for them and appreciation for the Cinderella run they just went on. Eyink had a similar point of view, choosing to focus on the positives of making it to the highest level for only the second time in school history.

“Everybody’s got to be proud of what we did,” Eyink said. “We’ve got to hopefully stay hungry. We’re going to miss these seniors and we’ve got some holes to fill, but hopefully we stay hungry and have some young guys who can step in and try to do this all again.”


Troy Homan, a senior on the Fort Recovery High School baseball team, celebrates a leadoff double that got the Indians started in the bottom of the first inning in the state championship game. When Homan came around to score, he shouted, “They know we’re here now,” sending the message that the Tribe wasn’t going to roll over and give Hiland a free state title. (The Commercial Review/Andrew Balko)

 


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