A bases-loaded walk Saturday ended a 50-year wait for Purcell Marian, as the Cavaliers beat Canton Central Catholic 1-0 in the Division II baseball final for their first state title since 1953.
The ending at Bill Davis Stadium was a fitting one for the “cardiac kids,” who gained the state final only after scoring the winning run against Hamilton Township in the bottom of the 8th inning in Friday’s semifinals.
This time, it wasn’t a double that sparked the celebration, but rather Dave Sheeran’s eagle eye.
With the bases loaded and the game scoreless in the bottom of the 7th inning, Sheeran battled Canton Central Catholic pitcher Zach Winkhart to a 3-1 count.
“All I wanted to do was get a good pitch and make contact,” Sheeran said. “I also didn’t want to swing at any bad pitches.”
Winkhart’s 3-1 offering was high and outside, allowing pinch-runner Ryan Williams to come home with Purcell Marian’s first title since the 1953’s Class A crown.
The walk was, perhaps, the best the Cavaliers could have hoped for from Winkhart, a 6-foot 1, 190-lbs junior, who brought an 8-0 record and 1.24 ERA into the game.
Winkhart allowed just 1 hit Saturday – Jake Suer’s double in the final inning. But Purcell Marian pitcher, Ryan Dugan, a junior, was equal to the task at hand, allowing only two hits and pitching out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth inning.
“It was a pitchers’ duel from the beginning, and I knew I had to step up,” Dugan said.
For Purcell Marian coach Dan Roberts, one-run games became practically a way of life during this postseason. The trend spurred him to designate his team as the “Cardiac Kids,” but words were a little harder to come by Saturday.
“I can’t explain the feeling,” Roberts said. “But I’m happy for these kids who grew very close throughout the season.”
Doug Miller, Canton Central Catholic’s coach was disappointed but gracious after the game.
“It was a great high school game and give them credit. They got it done,” he said.
And for those playing their last games in a Cavaliers uniform, Saturday had a perfect ending.
“The seniors wanted to do something special before graduating,” said senior centerfielder David Fairbanks who made two great catches. “It’s a great feeling.”
The Cavaliers finished at 23-9. Canton Central Catholic ends at 32-2.
WP – Dugan. LP – Winkhart. Hitting Leaders: PM – Suer 2B.
Attendance: 1,000 (estimated)
Included below is a link to the boxscore from the game courtesy of the OHSAA
By: Dave Schutte