CHILLICOTHE — The Minford Falcons made enough plays to survive.
After watching their lead dwindle to just one and with the tying run aboard, Alex Powell recorded his third strikeout of the day to lead Minford past Harrison Central, 3-2, in a Division III Regional Semifinal game.
Powell went the distance, allowing two earned runs over seven hits. Falcons manager Brent Daniels said it was a typical day at the office for Powell.
“It was typical Alex Powell,” Daniels said. “When he gets in there, mixes up his pitches, he’s very hard to hit. It was just ground ball, fly ball all night long. That’s what he does and we know that, and he did an outstanding job for us tonight.”
Minford (20-4) drew first blood, as Shaun Mericel scored in the bottom of the first inning. Merciel led the inning off with a single, reached second after a balk and quickly swiped third on a wild pitch. Jared Alley brought Merciel home with his first of two hits on the day.
Merciel scored again in the third inning, along with Eli Daniels, to give the Falcons their three runs on the afternoon. Daniels noted the offensive struggles were a attributed to the deep tournament run and the stiffer competition that ensues.
“Games like this, has you get further down the road, it’s just a matter of a timely hit or an error on them, and our kids kept doing what they do,” Daniels said. “We kept putting the ball in play and eventually we were able to get a couple of runs in.”
While the Falcons managed to scatter five hits throughout the contest, their patience was evident has Daniels run in the third came via base on balls. Minford benefited from three walks and a hit by pitch in the third to take command of the game.
“We saw he had five, get, seven balls in a row, so I started having them take pitches,” Daniels said. “I put the take sign on and the kids did a good job of standing in there, been very patient and not swinging the bat. We were fortunate enough that it got us a run and it probably won us the game.”
Daniels said the Falcons wouldn’t have gotten this far in the tournament without each member of the team.
“Like I told them, each kid is doing something at some point during the game that’s helping us win the game,” Daniels said. “It’s not just one person hitting or one person making plays, we’re each doing something as a group to help this team win the game. That’s what I’m proud of these boys for.”
Minford will return to the VA Friday at 2 p.m. to face Berlin Hiland in the regional finals.
“We’re going to show up and play them, and we’re going to worry about ourselves,” Daniels said.
Reach Chris at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.
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