Springfield baseball headed to Columbus

COPLEY – Springfield advanced to the final four in the Division IV state tournament for the third time in five years with a 6-3 victory over Cuyahoga Heights.

The game at Copley High School was recontinued on Saturday morning after rain forced umpires to postpone it on Friday in the fifth inning.

The delay didn’t slow down Jojo Caraballo. The senior leadoff batter was 2 for 3 with three RBIs, including critical run-scoring base hits in the second and third innings. The Tigers (20-7) scored two runs in each inning, which was enough to back a solid outing by starter Jordan Peterson. Peterson allowed three runs – one earned – on three hits and four walks while striking out three. The Tigers now play Defiance Tinora in the state semifinals at 1 p.m. Friday at Huntington Park in Columbus.

Springfield coach Matt Weymer, now in his second final four in his first three seasons, said his Tigers played better as the postseason progressed – especially their approach at the plate.

“The two district games, I don’t think those were our most crisp games,” he said. “But these two games we played (at the regional), they were some of our best. We’ve been hitting our stride in a sense.

“Sometimes we didn’t have the best approach at the plate (this year), but as the season went on, the guys realized we could do something special and we really refocused. We faced two good pitchers in the regionals, but I think when you’re one or two games from state, you pick it up a little bit, and they did that. All the credit goes to them.”

Joey Wrask also added two hits for the Tigers, while Dom Gentsy and Dalton Donachie doubled. Gentsy scored Springfield’s final run in the fifth. He doubled to start the inning and scored on an error by the Cuyahoga Heights second baseman.

James Hillyer picked up the save for the Tigers, striking out two and walking two in two innings.

A win on Friday puts the Tigers back in the state title game, which is Saturday at 4 p.m. at Huntington Park. Springfield lost in the state finals in 2009 and 2011.