The Bears hold on to advance in tournament action


Leetonia jumped out to a 9-0 lead and then had to hang on for the victory

LEETONIA, Ohio (WKBN) – The Nineteenth-seeded Leetonia Bears baseball team knocked off the twenty-second seeded Sebring Trojans 12-7 in OHSAA tournament action Tuesday night to advance in Division IV play.  The victory improves the Bears to 5-17 on the season as they advance to play at the top-seeded Jackson-Milton Blue Jays on Thursday night.

“This really means a lot,” Bears senior Brayden Duko stated about his last home game.  “But it’s bittersweet.  We got the win, but it is the last game here for me.”

The Trojans, who close the season with a 1-14 mark, battled back from being down 9-0 early in the contest.  The Bears scored five times in the first, twice in the second, and plated two more runs in the third to build a commanding 9-0 lead after three innings.

The Bears Jacob McCool would have an RBI single, followed by a two-RBI double from senior Mason Mellinger to help push the Bears out to a quick 5-0 advantage.  Peyton Durbin would collect an RBI singles in both the second and third frames, while Brayden Duko also knocked in a run with an RBI single in the third.

“The first inning is always big,” Bears coach Todd Kibby said.  “It helps when you throw up a zero (in the top) and then hang up a crooked number so it kind of takes the edge off of the game.  But I think it took the edge off too much because we kind of got a little complacent and put the cruise control on.  Then we had a hiccup and had to strap on our seatbelts to hang on for the rest of the game.”

But the Trojans would score four runs in the fifth to cut the deficit down to 9-4 thanks to an RBI single by Melvin Cruz and a sacrifice fly by Dylan Johnson.  They would take advantage of three walks to score the four runs.

The Bears added some insurance in the fifth frame with a run, and two more in the sixth to hold a 12-4 lead heading into the seventh.  That is when the Trojans scored three runs on just two hits as Elijah Frederick had an RBI single while the other two runs scored on wild pitches.

“We are an inexperienced team.  To show some fight there at the end was really awesome,” Whitlatch said.  “It was probably our best game all year.  In tournament time, that is what you want.  We came up short this time, but I’m happy with the way we played.”

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