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Roberts pitches Edison into district title game

By JOSH MORGRET • May 18, 2018 at 3:08 AM

SHELBY — Edison coach Sean Hoover admitted that he almost pulled Bryce Roberts after five innings.

It certainly was not because the senior was struggling, but because Roberts had kept his pitch count under 50 pitches — which is the Ohio limit for one day of rest before pitching again.

Hoover opted against it, but Roberts was in top form, striking out 10 and allowing just four hits as the No. 2-seeded Chargers cruised past Oak Harbor, 5-0, in a Division III district semifinal on Thursday at Shelby High School.

"Bryce was pounding the strike zone like he usually does," Hoover said. "Bryce is Mr. consistent out there. He throws about 70 percent strikes with the fastball and he has been dead-on on the mound. He wants the ball and he is the horse you want to give it to."

Edison improved to 14-9 overall and will face 10th-seeded Wynford in the district championship back at Shelby at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

"I felt like I did my part pitching, but our defense was really good," Roberts said. "I like to work efficiently. I do not like to waste pitches a lot. I feel like if I put the ball in the strike zone, the defense can handle it."

With a 4-0 lead and the thought of Saturday's potential game in the back of his mind, Hoover said he was close to the bold move.

"It crossed my mind more than once," said a smiling Hoover. "I think if we could have had more of a cushion, we would have thought about pulling him. At the end of the day, you want to win the first game before looking ahead to the second game."

The Chargers jumped on Oak Harbor (11-13) pitcher Aric McAtee quickly. Cooper McIntyre singled before Roberts roped a double to the left field fence, scoring McIntyre. Caleb Bissell was hit by a pitch, but was then thrown out trying to steal second with Cody Scott at the plate. Scott went on to strike out, but Richard Crooks singled up the middle, staking Roberts to a 2-0 lead.

Roberts sat the first four Rockets down, including three by strikeout before Clay Schulte singled. However, it took just one pitch to erase that as Roberts induced McAtee to ground into a double play.

"Bryce is a great athlete and we expected nothing less out of him," Oak Harbor coach Nick Lance said. "He found the zone and was able to keep us off-balance with his breaking ball. Unfortunately, we did not make the switch there or make the adjustments necessary."

Still trailing 2-0, Oak Harbor got its closest push at Roberts in the third inning. Spencer Segaard singled up the middle before Tyler Laughlin laid down a bunt. It was fielded well, but the throw to first was errant, allowing Laughlin to reach safely.

But as he did all night, Roberts then took control. He got Dylan Cunningham and Adam Ohms to both strike out looking before Jac Alexander flied out to right field to end the threat.

The Chargers got two more runs in the fourth inning. Jacobee Kessler and Caden Cooper each walked before Jadon Hanson bunted the two up a base each. That move worked to perfection, as McIntyre blooped a single into center field, scoring two runs.

Roberts finished off a string of six straight batters retired when he struck out Laughlin and Cunningham in the fifth inning. In the bottom half, Crooks reached on a dropped third strike and raced to third when Kessler poked a double down the left field line. Crooks then scored when Cooper singled, ending McAtee's day.

Hunter Lacer came on in relief and got a strikeout and flyout to end the Edison fifth inning, but the damage was done.

Roberts returned to the mound in the sixth inning and was greeted by a double from Ohms. Roberts then got a flyout and ground out before Lacer lined out to end the inning.

Roberts only walked one batter — Clay Schulte to lead off the seventh inning, but two strikeouts and a flyout later, the Chargers were moving on.

"Bryce changes speeds well and he hits his spots," Hoover said. "If you are a high school kid that throws two pitches for strikes as hard as he does and hits his spots, you are going to be successful."

Edison and Oak Harbor split two regular season meetings, with both teams winning at home. Edison won, 3-2, on a walk-off hit on April 20 while Oak Harbor won, 5-3, on May 8.

McAtee was charged with five runs on eight hits while walking three. He struck out seven.

"We had faced McAtee and beat him the first time," Hoover said. "We kind of knew what he was going to throw. We had a lot of confidence from that first game. We worked McAtee through counts and it gave us confidence today."

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