Rams hit two homers, but it’s not enough

Vermilion pushes run across run in 7th, takes down Upper Sandusky

PHOTO BY ZACH BAKER Upper Sandusky’s Jenna Rodriguez bats in the first inning of a Division II district quarterfinal against Vermilion Saturday in Upper Sandusky.

UPPER SANDUSKY — Luke Swavel said he thought his team was right where it wanted to be.

The Upper Sandusky coach watched as Hannah McKinniss launched a two-out, two-run homer down the left field line in the bottom of the sixth, tying the Rams with Vermilion at 4 in the Division II district quarterfinal.

“I thought that might have been the momentum to push us over to the top,” Swavel said.

Instead, it was Vermilion which quickly regained the advantage.

Mary Carosella’s two-out single in the top of the seventh scored Sailors’ teammate Maggie Hoffman from second, and proved to be the difference in Vermilion’s 5-4 win.

Carosella was the hitting star for the Sailors. Her two-run double in the third inning was part of a three-run burst that gave Vermilion a 3-1 lead.

“She had a great game there, just being a (designated player),” said Vermilion coach Bill Matthews. “We had a lot of at-bats that were good … we were aggressive at the plate and hit the ball.”

The Sailors improved to 10-8, and will travel to Milan to play Mansfield Madison in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Upper Sandusky got on the board first, in the second inning. Fogle began a brilliant day at the plate with a double down the left field line. She moved to third on Reagan Ward’s groundout, then came home when McKinniss hit the ball to short.

But the Sailors started the third inning with three straight singles off Upper Sandusky starting pitcher Alivia Oney, starting a three-run inning.

The Rams came back in the bottom of the fourth when Fogle lofted a solo shot to center to make it 3-2. Vermilion answered in the fifth with an unearned run.

It stayed 4-2 until the sixth, when Fogle, who went 3 for 3, slapped a one-out single. Ward flied out, but then McKinniss’ homer tied things up.

It was her first homer of the year, and it fired up the Rams and the home crowd.

But the Sailors didn’t appear rattled.

“Home runs these days don’t bother people like they used to, because kids hit them so much more often,” Matthews said. “And so, home run’s just another hit. It’s like, ‘All right, whatever, don’t let it bother you.'”

It didn’t seem to bother Hoffman, who pitched for the Sailors. She gave up two home runs, but struck out three and didn’t walk anyone.

She also dominated the top of the Rams lineup. The Rams 1-2-3 hitters — Jade Holman, Jenna Rodriguez and Oney — were a combined 0 for 10 against her.

“That’s unlike us,” Swavel said. “Our first three hitters are, of course, our better hitters, and it just didn’t fall in for them.”

And after the Sailors regained the lead in the seventh, Hoffman set down the Rams in order to end the game.

Oney took the loss. She allowed five runs, four earned, on 10 hits, striking out six.

Upper Sandusky bowed out of postseason play at 16-9. But the Rams still lead the Northern 10 Athletic Conference by a half game over Bucyrus with a game to play.

“Our goal at the beginning — even last year at the end of the season — was to win the N10, and we still have that opportunity,” Swavel said. “I told the girls not to let this one weigh you too much down.”