Parity ruled in SBC Lake Division this spring

Mark Hazelwood • May 10, 2019 at 7:00 AM

NORWALK — One of the biggest goals when the Sandusky Bay Conference expanded to a divisional format based on school size was parity.

With only six teams in each of the Lake, Bay and River divisions in the main sports, parity has played out in just about every sport — notably football and boys basketball.

But there may not be a more clear example of parity then this spring's SBC Lake Division race. Entering Tuesday, four of the six teams were tied for first place. A fifth, Tiffin Columbian, was two games behind and had beaten two of the first-place teams.

On Monday, Norwalk visited Columbian and Perkins traveled to Bellevue. The two teams were tied for first place and scheduled to resume a game tied at 3-3 in the fifth inning on Tuesday.

The Truckers suffered a walk-off loss to the Tornadoes in the seventh inning. A little while later, with a chance to take control, the Pirates lost in walk-off fashion in the 10th inning.

All squared away again, with the Truckers, Pirates, Redmen and Fliers each at 5-3 in the league, it was Norwalk beating the Pirates, 8-5, while on Wednesday, the Redmen won at Clyde, 8-1.

Now, both Norwalk (15-8, 6-3) and Bellevue (12-7, 6-3) are tied with one league game left. They both are set to have home games against Sandusky, which is 0-8 in the league and 4-13 overall. The Truckers were supposed to play Sandusky on Thursday, but rain has postponed the game yet again.

The Blue Streaks scheduled game at Bellevue is next week on May 16. While both the Truckers and Redmen are prohibitive favorites to beat Sandusky and share the league title — both teams must also navigate the tournament schedule with the postponed games, which can always complicate things. Bellevue is scheduled to play a Division II sectional title game, again at Clyde, the next day on Friday, May 17.

But if potentially four teams had found a way to share the league title, how would it be viewed by some of those involved?

"A league championship is a league championship," Norwalk coach Wes Douglas said. The Truckers haven't won a league title since winning the Northern Ohio League in 2013. "With there only being 10 games, five teams were beating up on each other and Sandusky was competitive. So I look at it that with only 10 games, there's just not going to be a lot of separation."

But there is also the question of whether it will consistently be competitive for more than half the teams.

"I think it's parity, and that's a product of a lot of younger guys playing that maybe aren't quite ready," Perkins coach Chris Walton said after Tuesday's loss at Norwalk. "But with the numbers down in baseball a little bit, they're forced to come up and play as freshmen and sophomores. I know both of these teams here today are doing that this season, and we're not alone."

There also may be another factor for a wild, uncertain 2018 season.

"In our league, there also isn't any 90-mph flame throwers," Walton said. "Every team has a decent No. 1 — but nothing that scares you, to be honest. Not like in years past. I think that has a lot to do with it, too. Everyone has one really good pitcher, then it's kind of even after that."

Garrett Obringer has emerged this season for the Truckers. The junior is batting .387 (24-of-62) with six doubles and 13 RBIs while scoring 28 times. Freshman Eli Obringer is batting .381 (27-of-71) with two doubles and 16 RBIs.

The Truckers have a chance to win the league title with just one senior, Leighton Battles, who is batting .277 (15-of-54) with three doubles and 10 RBIs.

Nine different underclassmen pitchers have combined for a 2.78 team ERA.

The game vs. Sandusky will likely be made up early next week, though the Truckers are scheduled to host a Division II sectional semifinal on Wednesday vs. Mansfield Senior. Should they win, a third meeting with Perkins on the road is slated for next Friday in the sectional title game.

"We're really happy with where we're sitting today with this team," Douglas said. "It's been a grind, the kids who have stepped up this season have made it really easy on me."



SBC Lake standings

             SBC  All

Norwalk     6-3 15-8

Bellevue    6-3 12-7

Perkins      6-4 14-8

Clyde         5-4 12-9

Columbian 4-5 9-11

Sandusky  0-8 4-14

Note: Bellevue will host Sandusky on May 16, while Norwalk will entertain the Blue Streaks in a pending rescheduled game. Clyde-Columbian will not resume a tied game in the eighth inning.

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