|'Jackets seek return to state (05-29-13)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Wednesday, 29 May 2013 08:10|
PERRYSBURG - Mark Delas, Kyle Durham, Austin Lee, Steve Slocum and A.J. Stockwell already have enjoyed one trip to the state high school baseball tournament.
The five are looking to earn a return trip to their sport's showcase event this week.
The Yellow Jackets, 26-3 overall and ranked fifth, face No. 4 St. Francis (28-2) in a Division I regional semifinal Thursday in a 5 p.m. start at Steller Field.
"The guys from the state team remember that feeling and we want to get back there, and we're just are hungry to go back there," said Durham, who is Perrysburg's starting catcher.
"We've tried to lead the way, and help the younger kids along. Everything's worked out well to this point and we want to keep it going."
The five all played varying roles in 2011 for the Yellow Jackets, who lost a 6-2 decision to Lakota East in the state championship game.
Perrysburg rallied for a 4-3 win over Willoughby South in the semifinals.
Slocum and Lee played the outfield in 2011, Stockwell was at first, and Durham and Delas came off the bench.
Delas was the leading hitter on the junior varsity team that season, but was promoted to the varsity for the tournament.
Delas had a pinch-hit double in each game at state. The hit against Willoughby South helped fuel the Yellow Jackets' three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh.
Durham, Slocum and Lee are seniors, and Delas and Stockwell are juniors.
"Our goal is to get back to state," said Delas, the team's No. 2 pitcher and starting third baseman.
The Yellow Jackets have bounced back from an unPerrysburg like season last spring. They were 16-13 overall and fourth in the Northern Lakes League at 7-7. But most of the key players on the 2011 state team were seniors.
Perrysburg returned 11 lettermen from last season. It's just one win shy of tying the school record of 27 set in 1999.
"We're a lot tougher mentally this year," Delas said. "Last year, we were a young team and we learned a lot, and continued the improvement this year. From the start of the season, we knew we had a chance to be a good team."
Perrysburg has been consistently good on the mound and defensively, posting a 2.25 earned-run average and making just 46 errors in 29 games.
Stockwell has a 1.49 ERA, followed by Delas 1.60, and senior Nick Munger 1.75. They're a combined 21-1.
"We all bought into coach Hall's systems," Durham said. "We knew if we could play small ball, play good defense and have good pitching, we could win games, and that's been the key. The pitching and defense have won us a lot of games, and the hitting eventually came. "
The Yellow Jackets are hitting only .333, but they've had enough timely hits and have capitalized on small ball. Delas leads the team with a .424 average, while Zach Honsberger is second at .417.
"We put the ball in play and we're swinging at better pitches, and getting deeper into counts. That's been a big difference," Delas said.
Perrysburg has drawn 160 walks this season.
"We knew our pitching and defense would be good, but we didn't know if we could hit," Hall said. "But we've been working the counts and we've been able to get walks and timely hits. We've been aggressive running the bases and we've executed the short game."
"We preach the counts every day in practice," Hall added. "We work counts, counts, counts consistently and our kids have bought into it which is one of the reasons why they've overachieved. We usually get ourselves into decent counts."
The Perrysburg-St. Francis winner advances to the regional final Friday at 5 p.m. against Avon Lake (17-10) or Cleveland St. Ignatius (24-6) at Case Western Reserve University.
The regional champion advances to the state semifinals. Perrysburg is in the regional for the third time in the last four seasons and fifth time in the last 13 seasons.
"This year was a matter of how much were we going to improve form last year mentally," Hall said. "This guys didn't buy into what we tried to do last year and this year they did. Our pitching has been outstanding all year, but we became a much better defensive team and we've done enough offensively. We've kept improving and we believe we can win."
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 May 2013 19:32|
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