COLDWATER — With a pair of wins on Saturday and Sunday, the Bryan ACME baseball team advanced to the state title game tonight against Archbold.
The Golden Bears won 10-5 over Anthony Wayne in the semifinals Sunday and 12-4 over West Liberty-Salem on Saturday in the quarterfinals at Veterans Field in Coldwater.
“A lot of these seniors, ever since they were little kids, they’ve always played in big, big games,” Bryan coach Doug Williamson said. “They’ve been there before. They know what it is, they know what they have to do, they know how they’ve got to perform.”
Bryan started out Sunday’s game against Anthony Wayne with a fury and scored three runs in the first inning and added five more in the second to take an 8-0 lead after just two innings of play.
Nate Miller singled home Connor Arthur — who had a triple in the second at-bat of the game — to get the offense rolling for the Golden Bears. Arthur went 2-for-3 with a walk on the night.
Bryan added another run in the third and one more in the seventh, but it already had enough on the scoreboard to pull out the win.
Dom James threw just nine pitches in the first inning and six in the second before being taken out with an 8-0 lead in favor of Logan Clemens. James will be available to pitch in tonight’s title game.
“Dom pitched lights out, they weren’t even touching him,” Williamson said. “Once we had the 8-0 lead, we were pretty confident we had the game in control. We still had confidence in Logan, don’t get me wrong. But I didn’t think they could score eight runs off of Logan.”
Anthony Wayne had just three hits headed into the seventh, before it added three more hits and scored three runs to make the final 10-5.
Bryan has trailed just once through its two games thus far — and immediately took the lead back after a half inning of play when it did trail. Playing ahead has been a significant boost to the Bears confidence-wise as well.
“It gets you more relaxed, it puts more pressure on the other team,” Willliamson said. “It’s huge.”
Sunday’s game was a continuation of Saturday’s strong showing from Bryan, where the bats got rolling early, too.
Bryan scored two runs in the opening frame, then added a run in the third, four runs in the fourth and five in the sixth as the continual offensive pressure was too much for West Liberty to handle.
“It helps when you’re coming out and you’re scoring, no matter how you score as long as you score runs,” Williamson said Saturday. “I thought we hit the ball really hard, just right at guys at times. Just started finding their way through a little bit.”
Clemens, Brooks Brown and Breven Deckrosh each had two RBIs to lead the offensive effort for the Bears.
On the mound, Benny Roebuck threw all seven innings for the Bears and allowed just five hits and four runs. He struck out eight and walked three. Paired with the offensive outburst, Bryan had too many weapons to contain.
“He threw a great game, Williamson said Saturday.” You know what you’re going to get with Benny, he’s going to throw hard and he’s going to come out and compete. I thought we played great as a team.”
The wins lifted Bryan to its second straight ACME state championship game, where it will look to win back-to-back titles. First pitch against Archbold is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight in Coldwater.
For the Bears, the mostly veteran team will have last year’s experience to rely upon throughout the title game. Should they fall behind, like they did briefly against West Liberty, there won’t be any panic on the Bryan side of the field.
“Another year under their belts, most of them are seniors,” Williamson said Saturday. “That helps a ton that we went last year. We got down a run, but I don’t worry about these guys too much. Granted I might get a little upset here and there, but I know they can come back. Once they put those big runs on them, I said, ‘Here they go.’”