Bad time for a slide

Tribune Chronicle / Robert Hayes Champion’s Nolan Yartz is caught stealing in the bottom of the third inning amidst a cloud of dirt. Edgewood beat the Flashes, 10-5, in the Division III Niles District championship.

NILES — It was a slugfest Wednesday at Wilder Field in Waddell Park as the two top-seeded teams in the Division III Niles District final both hit the ball well, but ultimately, the Edgewood Warriors defensive game plan helped them beat the Champion Golden Flashes, 10-5.

Champion coach Rick Yauger gave praise to the Warriors.

“Give them credit, they made the majority of the routine plays,” he said. “We hit a lot of balls hard, they were playing us a little deeper in the outfield because they watched the (district semifinal) game against LaBrae, and it paid off for them.”

The Golden Flashes came into the game as the top seed in the bracket, with two wins over Edgewood earlier in the season, but the Warriors (15-8) didn’t allow that to faze them.

Edgewood jumped on Champion early, scoring three in the top of the first inning. The momentum seemed to change in the bottom of the third when Zachary Bickel blasted a triple to left-center field.

Tribune Chronicle / Robert Hayes Champion's Adam Fisher smashes a single in the bottom of the third inning of the Golden Flashes' Division III District final game.

Bickel was brought home by Nolan Yartz on an RBI single. Later in the inning with bases loaded, Bayus, who was the starting pitcher, helped his own cause by hitting a no-doubter to right-center field and giving his team the 5-3 lead after three innings.

Edgewood kept attacking the Golden Flashes (14-5) throughout the game though. They scored a run in the top of the fourth and then had a huge five-run sixth inning, which was highlighted by a grand slam off the bat of Edgewood’s Chris Morici. The Warriors then tacked on another run in the top of the seventh.

Although Champion had at least one base runner in six of the seven innings, they kept hitting pitches right into the jaws of the Edgewood defense.

“The big thing is you say goodbye to some seniors (Andrew Russell, Matt Horvant and Yartz) you’ve seen come up as freshman,” Yauger said “The real pain about the ending is you always want one more game, so you get to see them kids play another game.”

Yauger fielded a young team this season, and he felt like they did well.

Tribune Chronicle / Robert Hayes Abe Bayus, the starting pitcher for Champion, delivers a pitch in the top of the first innings against Edgewood.

“We start four sophomores and a freshman,” he said. “We said that if we could compete for the league title and play for district championship, then this team has achieved pretty well.

“One thing I’m very proud of is the class they always show, the example for the team they wear on the front of their jersey while they’re out there during the game, and how they conduct themselves in the dugout,” Yauger said. “That means a lot to me.”

Adam Fisher and Brandon Dykes each chipped in with two singles apiece. Edgewood moves on to play Canton Central Catholic next Thursday in the Division III Massillon Regional tournament.