DEFIANCE — In seven innings of work on Saturday afternoon, Dom James allowed six hits, one run and walked only one batter.
Unfortunately for Bryan, it wasn’t enough.
That’s because on the other side of the field, Defiance pitcher Caden Kline kept Bryan off-balance all day as the Golden Bears fell 1-0 to the Bulldogs at Defiance High School in a District 1 ACME baseball game.
“He did a good job of handling our runners,” Bryan assistant coach Jacob Spiess said of Kline. “Kept us off-balance there, mixed up his timing to the plate. We were on our front foot, not sitting back and driving it the other way. We just weren’t hitting and there’s no excuse for it, honestly. We let one guy kinda beat us.”
The loss was Bryan’s first loss to Defiance throughout the summer. The two played four times prior to Saturday.
“We kind of came in, thinking we were going to roll over them,” Spiess said. “And we got it taken to us.”
But, the Bears had never seen Kline before, who touched 88 MPH on his fastball multiple times through his seven innings. He finished with a complete game shutout win and seven walks, 11 strikeouts and two hits allowed.
“His ball moves, lefties are hard to hit,” Defiance coach Rob Held said. “He had two walks in the first inning, I just think we continued to say, ‘Next pitch, next pitch.’ Bryan hasn’t seen, maybe with the exception of the kid from Anthony Wayne, they’ve seen nobody that’s thrown that way against them all summer.”
Bryan had a baserunner in every inning, but only had a runner reach scoring position four times — and third base just once. The two hits came from Brooks Brown and Dom James.
James’ outing went about as well as it could have, save for the three hits allowed in the first inning which allowed the only run of the afternoon.
“Dom James, man, that kid is awesome,” Held said. “He’s awesome. We got the one run off of him and then held them in.”
The win sent Defiance to the District 1 final on Monday night and gave the team an extra day of rest, too. As for Bryan, it beat Fairview 7-2 on Sunday to advance to the championship against Defiance. In order to win the district title, Bryan will need to beat the Bulldogs twice.
“It impacts us in several ways,” Spiess said of the extra game. “Pitching, we’re going to have to use a little bit more pitching and try to get our way out of the loser’s bracket. We just have to claw and fight our way back now.”