CANTON, OH- Columbiana traveled to Canton Thursday evening to take on the #1 seed Crusaders of Central Catholic. In a game that came down the wire, the Clippers prevailed defeating Central 1-0 to earn a sectional championship and a matchup with the Mogadore Wildcats next Wednesday, May 16th at Cene Park in Struthers.
The Clippers were led on the mound by Chase Franken who threw the complete game shutout. Franken (5-4) gave up only 3 hits while striking out 4 to earn the victory.
The game got off to a fast start for Columbiana. After a Zach Fahs line out, Joe Bable doubled to left center and Chase Franken would single to give the Clippers runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out. AJ Perkins lined a ball back up the middle but an outstanding play by the Crusader pitcher would end the threat as he snagged the ball out of the air and threw to first for the double play.
In the bottom of the inning, the Clippers defense showed they were ready to play and back up Franken for the entirety. AJ Perkins made a fine running catch on the leadoff hitter’s sinking liner, followed by Tyler Andersen’s great snag of a line drive to second. Evan Kenneally would get the last out, diving into foul territory to grab a looping liner toward first to end the inning.
Neither team would threaten again until the fourth inning. In the top of the frame, Franken ripped a ball to the left-center fence for his school record 14th career triple to get the inning started. With a drawn in infield, AJ Perkins would line a ball to right to knock in the only run the Clippers would need on the night.
Columbiana continued to play excellent defense the rest of the way including Erik Hopfenziz quickly hopping on a wild pitch and throwing to Franken to get the out at home on a Crusader trying to score from third in the bottom of the 6th.
In the final frame, the Crusaders would threaten but the Clippers would shut it down. After a leadoff walk and a steal, Central Catholic was looking good with the tying run on 2nd with no one out. Franken would induce the 8 hitter to pop up to the shortstop Bable, followed by a ground out to Andersen at second. With the leadoff hitter up, 2 outs and a runner on third, Franken would strike him out to end the game and secure the victory for Columbiana.
With the win, Columbiana now sits at 12-13 on the year. The Clippers will host Toronto this afternoon at Legion Field for the final EOAC contest of the year. First pitch is scheduled for 5 PM.