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Jackson-Milton can’t solve Bristol in 6-0 loss

Hadyn Mahan Ks 10, allows 3 hits as Bristol takes down Blue Jays in D-IV Fairport Harbor District final

Staff photo/Brian Yauger. Bristol players celebrate after securing the district title Thursday against Jackson-Milton.

FAIRPORT HARBOR — It’s been a busy week for Bristol’s Hadyn Mahan.

Two days after coming into the game to secure the final out and send the Panthers to their second-ever district title game, Mahan played hero once again. He threw a complete game shutout and led Bristol to its first-ever baseball district title, taking down Jackson-Milton 6-0.

“It’s really special,” Mahan said. “I wouldn’t have been able to come in and do what I did in the district semis if it wasn’t for my buddy over there (pointing to a frantically waving Nick Church.) He pitched a phenomenal game and put me in a great spot to come up and finish it for him.

“Today I tried to slow up my curveball a little bit. Try to get more movement on it, try to show a little bit more of an offspeed throw. They were just dropping into the right spot and the ump was liking what I was doing.”

It wasn’t just on the mound either. Mahan made his presence known at the plate and on the bags as well, scoring two runs and tallying a pair of RBIs.

If you would have told Panthers coach Jeff Thompson two weeks ago, they would be hoisting the district trophy, he might have looked at you like you had three heads.

The Panthers lost six games in May heading into the postseason, far from playing their best baseball, but they came together, buckled down, and it paid off.

“We just had a heart to heart and just said, ‘We’re better than this, we’re better than what we’re playing’,” Thompson said. “Honestly, it wasn’t physical. It was mental.

“You could see over the last couple of games in the district semifinals and this game, they played hard and had fun. Just play hard and have fun. Baseball is supposed to be a fun game. You’ve got to execute but we’ve had fun over the last week.”

Despite his performance, Thompson still feels like Mahan might be this team’s unsung hero. Having a Nick Church on the roster takes some of the attention away, but don’t let that fool you, the Panthers aren’t a one-man show.

“He’s underappreciated from the standpoint of everybody always thinks of Nick Church, who won the district semi,” Thompson said. “But Hadyn is a pretty darn good pitcher and he’s been underappreciated by everyone except for us. We value that guy.”

Speaking of Church, he was behind the dish for Bristol, catching multiple fly balls and acting as the team’s field general.

Brett Songer and Jonny Stephens each rounded the bases twice for the Panthers.

Jackson-Milton’s season ends at 13-8. The young Blue Jay squad helmed by Matt Ruby had an uncertain future entering this year, but are already highly anticipating next season.

Pitcher Billy Sloan finished with three strikeouts.

Last season, the Blue Jays lost in the district semifinals, this year, the district finals. Ruby is hoping the gradual improvement pays off when his junior class returns next season as seniors.

“We didn’t do a good job hitting with runners on, and we didn’t do a good job fielding with runners on. (Mahan) wasn’t walking people. He was on and we didn’t capitalize on the chances we had, but I’m proud of these guys. Nobody expected us to be here. It seems like every year we’re taking one step forward. Hopefully next year is the big step.”

The Panthers (14-13) advance to the regional at Gilmour Academy on Thursday where they’ll face the winner of Norwalk St. Paul and Tiffin Calvert at 2 p.m.

Calvert and St. Paul face off tonight at 5 p.m.

byauger@tribtoday.com

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