Sunday, May 27, 2001
Hamilton heads to state baseball semis
Stewart goes distance to beat Lakota West
By Dave Schutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FAIRBORN During the bus ride back to Hamilton on Friday after a 2-1 victory over Elder, Big Blue senior Nate Stewart got the word from assistant coach Dan Reid.
Coach Reid asked me if I wanted to pitch against Lakota West, Stewart said. There's wasn't any doubt that I wanted the ball.
Stewart went the distance Saturday as Hamilton defeated Lakota West 10-4 to win the Division I regional baseball championship at Wright State University.
The Big Blue advance to the state semifinals at 10 a.m. Thursday against Dublin Coffman at Cooper Stadium in Columbus.
One of Cincinnati's most successful programs since coach Dan Bowling took over 19 years ago, Hamilton will be making its fifth appearance in the final four.
The Big Blue won the first of its two state championships in 1983 and followed with a second in 1997. Their other state tour nament appearances were in 1928 and 1998; they lost both times in the semifinals.
Stewart most recently pitched in relief against Troy last Saturday in the district championship, walking one and hitting three batters in two innings. But control wasn't a problem against the Firebirds. Stewart gave up 11 hits and walked three but did not hit a batter.
Coach Reid worked on control and what I was doing wrong, Stewart said. Early, the curve was my best pitch. I switched to the fastball when I got tired. I threw 120 pitches today.
The tone for the game was set in the first inning when Hamilton manufactured a run without a hit. The Big Blue took advantage of two walks and an error for a 1-0 lead.
A four-run fourth inning gave Stewart a big cushion, and four more in the sixth clinched it.
A lot of times we talk about a 350-foot blast turning a game around, Bowling said. Today it was Adam (Gedling's) bunt single that was big, along with our base-running.
Bowling was referring to a perfectly placed bunt by Gedling in the fourth inning with Matt Worrell on first. It came after Dustin Pearson led off with a home run for a 2-0 lead.
I hit a line drive down the line the first pitch, and the third baseman moved back, said Gedling, who had the game-winning hit Friday. All I wanted to do was get on base.
Tommy Begley, Nate Mahon and Matt Wagers followed with singles, and Todd Richardson drew a walk off relief pitcher Jeff Smith.
Only a sophomore, Mahon has been sensational in five tournament games, with 11 hits in 17 at-bats and seven RBI.
I was in a slump late in the season, said Mahon, who was 2-for-3 with two RBI against Lakota West.
Coach Bowling decided to take me out of right field and use me as the designated hitter. He told me he wanted me concentrating on hitting.
Lakota West scored one run in the sixth and added three more in the seventh when Brandon Beyer lein hit a three-run home run.
Hamilton's next foe, Dublin Coffman, beat Mount Vernon 6-0 to win the Dublin regional.
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