BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — Anthony Wayne brought out its secret weapon last Friday at Sandusky’s Sports Zone Parks – a sophomore pitcher by the name of Ty Roder.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound, right-handed Roder worked fast and threw strikes, completing the game in just over 90 minutes, to lead AW to a 2-0 Division I district final win over Northview.
“I was just pounding the zone and trying to throw strikes,” Roder said, adding that the home plate umpire was calling the outside pitch, so “I just sat there all game.”
“He’s a 15-year-old sophomore who started out on the JV team and we brought him up because we needed some depth,” said AW coach Mark Nell.
“He’s thrown some pretty good ballgames for us. He threw against Perrysburg Tuesday and we got him out because of the pitch count situation.”
Against Northview on Friday, Roder threw 72 pitches to get a complete-game shutout, including 53 strikes. He struck out three, walked no one and allowed just three hits.
“He’s going to be a good one,” Nell said. “He’s going to be special. He’s got some life. His velocity is going to get better as he gets older and he’s going to be a dandy.”
Eleven Northview batters hit into ground-outs, four into fly-outs and Roder faced just 24 batters – three over the minimum.
When two batters left the box to call timeout because Roder was working too fast for them, the AW pitcher simply smiled.
“He’s pretty composed out there – he doesn’t get rattled at all,” Nell said.
“He made a couple mistakes on 0-and-2 pitches, like three of them, and one guy got a hit on it, but he’ll get better. He’s got a chance to be dominating.”
Roder only struck out two batters in the last five innings but faced a near-minimum 18, including three each in the fourth, fifth and sixth, by trusting his defense.
“He’s a stud. He’s good,” said AW senior pitcher/outfielder Connor Judy. “He’ll do even better next year, which is crazy.
“He’s been solid for us all year. He started the year on JV and we realized he was real good so we brought him up, I guess.”
In the third, Northview’s Andrew Crooks belted a grounder up the middle of the infield for a base hit, but he was stranded.
Crooks had another base hit in the sixth that found a hole between short and third, but Roder got Andrew George to hit a grounder to third, which resulted in a round-the-horn double play.
In the seventh, Connor McCann singled to right field and reached second on a fielder’s choice and an error, putting two base runners on with one out and the Wildcats still down by just two.
Roder got Logan Strebler to pop up to second base, though, and then Logan Teil hit a grounder to AW sophomore shortstop Garret Pike, who quickly tossed to third to get the lead runner and final out.
The Generals scored their first run in the second inning and then added an insurance run in the sixth.
Judy led AW at the plate, going 2-for-4 with an RBI, and senior Austin Drewes was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Seniors Camron Kotten-brock and Carter Holck also had hits.
Senior Hogan Heck and Chase Saneholtz each stole a base, while sophomore Garret Pike and Heck had sacrifices and four Generals reached on walks – Heck, Kottenbrock, Williams and Szul.
Carter Holck led off the sixth with a line drive to left, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Pike and went to third after tagging on a fly ball to right field hit by his brother, sophomore Conner Holck.
Drewes then singled along the right field line, scoring Carter Holck and giving the Generals a two-run cushion.
Judy had a base hit in the fifth and Kottenbrock singled in the seventh, but both were stranded.
In the third, AW junior Shane Williams, Szul and Kottenbrock reached on walks to load the bases with one out but failed to score.
By defeating the Wildcats, Anthony Wayne avenged a 4-2 Northern Lakes League loss to Northview earlier in the week.
The Generals have now won 10 of their last 11 games, with the NLL loss to Northview being their only blemish.
“We’re only getting better,” Nell said. “We’re starting to gel. We had a lot of figuring out to do at the beginning of the year, too.
“When you’ve got a lot of figuring out to do, and then you play the weather in and some of the cancellations that we’ve had, and everybody was affected by that.
“I’m not trying to make excuses, but when you’re young and you’re trying to gel a lineup together and trying to find it, you like to have some continuity with playing. We’ve got it figured out now.”
Judy, one of eight seniors on this year’s team, has noticed a difference in the team since the season started.
“At the beginning of the year, I think we started to panic a little bit,” he said. “Now I think we’re relaxing and we’re settling in with each other. We’re starting to do better, so that’s good.”
AW will take on Southview (20-12) this Thursday at Bowling Green State University’s Warren Steller Field, first pitch scheduled for 5:00 p.m., in a regional semifinal. It will mark back-to-back regional appearances for the Generals.
“If feels awesome to get back there again. It’s amazing,” Roder said.
Southview defeated St. Francis, 13-0, in a district final at Bowling Green’s Carter Park to advance.
AW has already defeated Southview twice in NLL action, 5-2 and 6-2, and a third time would advance the Generals to the regional final – or one game away from the state final four for the second consecutive year.
“It feels good,” Judy said. “I don’t know what the expectations were, but we always had high hopes. It feels good getting back to where we were last year, and you never know what happens when you get there.”
The regional final is scheduled for this Friday at 5:00 p.m. at Cuyahoga Community College West against the winner of Amherst Steele (20-10) and Cleveland St. Ignatius (20-8).