WHITING – It was a wild ride of a game from the very start but in spite of the excitemen it’s one that LaVille’s Lancers will never want to take again as they lost a heartbreaker in round one of regional play to Bluffton by an 8-7 final.
“They jumped out and took a lead on us,” said LaVille head coach Brian Lawler. “We had a great fourth inning with Leyton’s big grand slam. They just hit the ball at the end. They put some runners on base and then we just couldn’t get it done in the bottom of the seventh.”
Bluffton starter Gavin King and the Lancers Isaiah Herbster got through two with only two runners reaching base but in the third Bluffton struck for three runs after Herbster walked Kaine Moore, then gave up a double to Elias Inskeep, walked Mason Heller and gave up RBI singles to Everett Johnson and Landon Harris.
Meanwhile King was not just sailing, he was overpowering. The Bluffton left hander took a no hitter into the fourth, striking out eight straight Lancer hitters and nine out of the first ten.
But to reverse a cliche what King taketh away, he also gave. In the fourth the proverbial wheels came off for King as he walked three, hit two batters and then Leyton Czarnecki stepped to the plate.
The LaVille second baseman did what very few high school players can say they’ve done – hit a grand slam to put his team on top in a regional game.
“We were struggling to get anything and struggled to get big hits all day but Leyton got that grand slam that put us ahead,” said Lawler. “You have to get those big hits when you have the chance. You don’t get those opportunities very often.”
That shot chased King from the game and appeared that it might be all the Lancers would need as Herbster sailed through the fourth and fifth.
Two hit batters to lead off the sixth would dent the armor and lead to a two out two run single by Kaine Moore, but with three outs to play the Lancers still held a 7-5 lead.
In the seventh LaVille couldn’t hang on.
Herbster walked the lead off man in the inning – King – and gave up a one out single to Johnson before Lawler decided to make a move and bring on left hander Devon Schoff.
Two singles and a sacrifice fly would push three across for the Tigers.
In the LaVille seventh, Schoof singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Connor Wieczorek. Then LaVille went down in order and the historic Lancer season came to an end.
For Lawler as with all coaches it’s hardest to say goodbye to your seniors.
“This is a great group that we have, It’s our first sectional championship since 1991,” He said. “We were 14-0 in our conference. It was a pleasure to coach this team and we are going to miss our three seniors.”
Rilye Cox, Reese Gallup and Devon Schoof are the Lancers that will be moving on after graduation.
“There are only four teams that are happy when this tournament is over,” said Lawler. “Unfortunately we won’t be one of those but this team and these seniors have a lot to be proud of.”
LaVille ends their season with a second straight undefeated run through the HNAC and a 23-6 record overall.
*BLUFFTON 8, LAVILLE 7
at Oil City Stadium
Bluffton 0 0 3 0 0 2 3 8-9-0
LaVille 0 0 0 7 0 0 0 7-4-0
WP – Inskeep. LP – Schoof. HR – Czarnecki (L). 2B – Inskeep (B).