MOUNT VERNON — The Exchange Club did all they could on Friday night to win the Major League City Tournament title. On Saturday, Central Ohio Fabricators returned the favor.
COF scored 10 times to avenge Friday’s run-rule loss and take the title with a 10-0 win over Exchange at Phillips Park. It marked the second time that COF had run-ruled Exchange in the tournament.
“These kids wanted it,” said COF coach Dan Trace of his team. “We stepped up at the right time. They didn’t have their best pitcher on the mound and we did.”
“This was pretty much what everybody thought would happen, but we didn’t,” said Exchange coach Phil Arck. “Obviously, we didn’t hit the ball. We started off with two hits in the first four or five innings. A lot of people counted us out, so it is good we made it this far this year. We wanted to win today, but we didn’t get the job done. We had too many errors to win the game.”
After getting no-hit on Friday night, COF wasted little time in breaking out the bats on Saturday. It posted a 3-0 lead in the first inning, and pitcher Tyler Hedrick took it from there.
“This feels really good,” said Hedrick.
Tyler Galbraith led off the game with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch and Hedrick advanced him to third when he reached on an error. Alex Sapp then walked to load the bases, and Brandon Frye drove Galbraith in for the first run with a single to left-center field. Exchange starter Hunter Davis got a called strike three on the next batter, but a single to right by Cole Parker plated two more runs and put COF up after one.
Exchange threatened in the bottom of the first after J.D. Orr reached on a single and Alex Arck hit a ball off Hedrick’s right leg. After a little icing and a few pitches, Hedrick stayed in the game and worked his way out of the jam. A pair of fielder’s choice plays helped keep the runners in check and Hedrick struck out the last batter to end the threat.
“I really just tried to ignore it, and after a few innings, I didn’t really even notice it,” Hedrick said.
“When he got hit in the shin, he had this huge knot on his leg,” said coach Arck. “For him to come back in and pitch the game he did was great. He is a gamer. I’ve known him for a long time and he is a good athlete. I think that was the key to the game; Tyler staying in there.”
Neither team did much in the second inning, with COF getting one base runner on a walk and Hedrick striking out the side in the bottom of the inning. COF, however, broke the game open in the third. Sapp reached on an error to lead off and took second on a wild pitch. Davis, who got a groundout and a strikeout, however, looked close to getting out of the inning when everything fell apart. An RBI double by Parker plated Sapp and opened the floodgates. Trace Burden singled and Cody McNichols walked to load the bases, and Galbraith cleared them with a grand slam home run to deep center field.
“I was just looking for a single or a double so I could knock some runs in,” said Galbraith of his home run. “I didn’t think it was going out, but then I saw it landed outside the fence. It is really exciting.”
“Sometimes a coach might pull him at that point, seeing the batting order coming up; I might have made a mistake there, but it is something we have to live with,” said coach Arck. “(Davis) had just struck out Hedrick (to end the second inning), and I thought he might get Ty (Galbraith) too, but he is a very good ball player and he got him.”
COF wasn’t done yet. Davis walked the next two batters before leaving the mound in favor of Ethan Rummel, who threw a wild pitch during an at-bat to Sapp to advance the runners. Sapp then singled back up the middle, plating Logan Jones. Hedrick scored the final run on an error and COF loaded the bases before Rummel got out of the inning.
“We needed to do better than we did (Friday),” said Hedrick. “We got more comfortable at the plate, and started hitting.”
COF threatened in each of the final two innings, but failed to add to its lead after a double play ended the fourth and strong defense stopped the fifth inning. Exchange, meanwhile, also threatened but could never get the break it needed. Back-to-back errors gave Exchange to leadoff base runners in the fourth before Hedrick struck out the next three looking. Then, in the fifth, Exchange had two on with one out and failed to capitalize.
“There are no words for it,” said Trace of Hedrick’s performance. “He gets hit in the leg by a hard shot up the middle, and then stays in and goes back after it. He is a kid that can really throw and wants the ball. He is just phenomenal.”
Galbraith led COF with a 2-for-3 night, scoring twice and driving in four. Parker went 2-for-2 with three RBI; Burden was 2-for-3 with a run scored; Hedrick and Sapp each scored twice; and Brandon Frye finished 2-for-2 with an RBI. Cody Garcia and Sapp each had a single. Hedrick allowed just three hits and walked just one in five innings of work. He struck out nine.
“(Friday), I think we thought we were going to win it all pretty easily,” said Galbraith. “We learned we have to come prepared every game, and today, we played to win. ... (Hedrick) gave us a lot of motivation because we knew he was going to throw strikes. We wanted to back him up.”
Orr led Exchange, going 2-for-3, and Arck had Exchange’s only other hit. Davis allowed just six hits in 2 2/3 innings of work, but walked five. Rummel gave up five hits and a walk while striking out one in the final 2 1/3 innings.