By DAVE HANNEMAN
Opportunity came a knocking for Findlay High’s baseball team on Friday.
But the Trojans were not in a receptive mood.
“We had plenty of opportunities. We just didn’t get the job done,” Findlay coach Jeff Stutzman said after the Trojans dropped a 3-1 decision to Bowling Green in a Division I sectional tournament final at Flag City Memorial Field.
Findlay stranded eight runners on base, a significant number in a low-scoring game. Half were stranded in scoring position.
“In the games we’ve struggled in this year, we’ve not been able to get that two-out hit,” Stutzman said.
Bowling Green wasted opportunities as well, stranding seven base runners. But the Bobcats got a leadoff single in the top of the sixth inning, a clutch RBI double by Jack Schaller, and then a suicide squeeze bunt by David Fouts to produce the two-run cushion that stood up.
“We were finally able to take advantage when we had chances,” said BG coach Bob Schultz. “We finally got the hits we needed.”
Findlay starter Connor Curlis beaned his counterpart, BG’s Andy Fisher, to open the game. Ricky Riggs reached on an error and Jeremy Chambers gave the Bobcats the early 1-0 lead with an RBI single.
Findlay tied it in the bottom of the third inning in almost the same way.
Nolan Rodman was hit by a pitch leading off the inning and raced to third when Grant Akins’ grounder went through the legs of Fouts, BG’s second baseman. Rodman then scored, beating the throw to the plate on a double steal.
Despite some loose defensive play — BG committed six errors, Findlay two — both teams came up with clutch run-saving gems.
BG’s Mason Apple had a one-out double in the second inning, but was picked off by Connor.
The Bobcats opened the fourth inning with three straight base hits and later got a walk. But they scored no runs because Curlis picked another runner off base and struck out Fouts with the bases loaded.
A hit and error gave Bowling Green runners at second and third with nobody out in the fifth. Findlay catcher Nolan Rodman ran down Fisher on a botched squeeze play, and Curlis got a strikeout and ground out to end yet another threat.
Bowling Green came up with some key defensive plays as well.
Rodman’s leadoff single and two errors on a grounder by Ryan Golden put Findlay runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the fifth.
Michael Roche then hit a sharp grounder to short, but with the infield playing in Rodman was cut down at the plate. Fisher then struck out Curlis on a nasty curve to end the inning.
Fisher, a senior left-hander, struck out eight, walked one and held Findlay to three total hits. Mitch Cromley, a big right-hander who threw more heat than offspeed, got the final three outs for the save.
“We struck out a lot tonight,” Stutzman said. “We usually strike out two, three times a game. Tonight we struck out seven, eight times.
“We usually put the ball in play and put pressure on the defense. Tonight we didn’t do that.”
Curlis gave up eight hits and two earned runs. The junior left-hander struck out five and walked none, but did hit three batters. Chandler Stillings finished up for the Trojans.
Friday’s outcome left both teams with 13-11 records, but different futures.
Bowling Green advances to the Division I district semifinals at Bowling Green’s Carter Park. The Bobcats will face Mansfield Madison at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday.
Findlay now heads into the Three Rivers Athletic Conference playoffs. The Trojans finished second in their division and will host Toledo Whitmer in a first-round game on Tuesday. The playoffs then move on to Mercy Field on the Toledo C.C. campus for the remainder of the tournament.
Bowling Green 100 002 0 — 3 8 6
Findlay 010 000 0 — 1 3 2
WP — Fisher. LP — Curlis. top hitters: (BG) Chamber 1B, RBI; Mayberry 2-1B; Schaller 1B, 2B, RBI.
records: Bowling Green 13-11, Findlay 13-11.