Photo Credit: Sarah Milligan
The Harwood boys’ varsity baseball team lost in the semifinal playoffs against No. 6 seed Lake Region this week.
On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, No. 2 Harwood boys’ varsity baseball, hosted the semifinal round of playoffs against No. 6 seed Lake Region.
At the top of the first inning in the semifinal round playoffs against Lakes Region, the Rangers came out strong with heavy bats. In the first inning alone they scored four runs against seasoned Highlander pitcher Jake O’ Brien with hits to the outfield and past infield gloves. Highlanders didn’t get a run across home plate until the bottom of the third when they ended it 4-1 when Ryan Semprebon hit an RBI.
The Rangers struck back next time at bat with their first hit of the inning, an out-of-the-park homerun. In the top of the fifth inning, Harwood had a pitching change -- Semprebon relieved O’Brien who struck out three, walked two with eight hits and five runs over five innings.
Harwood had a rally in the bottom of inning six when the Rangers’ pitcher had three walks which had the bases loaded. Chase Reagan had a double which was followed by Charlie Zschau’s RBI. The Highlanders were able to get the score 5-3 with a full crowd cheering them on. The Rangers scored a lone run in the top of the seventh.
Up to bat with a last effort by the Highlanders -- up against a new pitcher -- a double by O’Brien was followed by two straight strike outs, a hit to the outfield allowed O’Brien to tag up at second to run to third, taking the turn a little wide he slipped in the grass to jump back up and run towards home where the umpire ruled him out with a tag by Ranger catcher. Final score was 6-3 in Rangers’ favor which ended the Harwood season at 14-3.
Leading up to the semis, Harwood bested U-32 on Saturday June 2, in the quarterfinals. In the top of the first inning with Jake O’Brien on the mound, the Highlanders’ defense was strong. With one strikeout to start the game, one out in the outfield and one on the hot corner at third base from junior Bobby Kelly, who had four outs in the game from third base, the inning ended with a throw to first. First up at bat for the Highlanders was a leadoff double from O’Brien who was left on base in scoring position.
Both teams were playing strong defensive games in the early innings. Harwood was the first to break the barrier in the bottom of the fourth inning when Bobby Kelly scored the first run. Cameron Joslin hit a single RBI followed by Evan Llewellyn and O’Brien who both batted RBIs. At the top of the fifth inning, U-32 tried to make a comeback hitting a double off O’Brien and scored one run against the Highlanders; the inning ended with an out at the fence catch by outfielder Dan Greene. The score at the bottom of the fifth was 4-1 in the Highlanders’ favor.
At the top of the sixth inning, the Highlanders switched pitchers, relieving O’Brien and putting Beckett Richardson on the mound. Starting off the inning with two walks, the Highlanders pulled together to get three outs starting with O’Brien turning a double play and the third coming from the outfield. At the bottom of the sixth inning Wyatt O’Brien started off a rally with a home run, which resulted in U-32 switching pitchers. Jake O’Brien hit in an RBI behind him; Ryan Semprebon hit a single to follow up. With the score 7-1, the Raiders put in another relief pitcher, and Chase Reagan and Kelly hit singles. The score starting t the top of 7 was 9-1 which would be the nail-in-the-coffin-ending result.
Head coach Mitch Casey, at the end of the game, concluded, “That’s Harwood baseball in a nutshell.” When asked what the team will be working on for the semifinals, Casey said, “Business as usual, working on the little things like bunting.” Against U-32, the Highlanders stole a high amount of bases. “If it’s open and we have a chance, we’re going to steal. We’re going to run till you catch us,” said Casey.