Archers pull out sectional win in bottom of seventh

ANTWERP – Antwerp was two outs away from the end of the season.

But Reid Lichty kept the Archers postseason dreams alive with a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh inning, giving Antwerp a 2-1 victory over Hicksville in Division IV sectional championship action on Thursday.

“It had the feel of the end of the 2019 regional finals, though it wasn’t something quite as big,” Antwerp head coach Zac Feasby said in reference to an extra-inning win over Kalida that sent the Archers to the state semifinals. “The top of our lineup struggled all night so it was left up to the bottom. It was nice to see the younger guys come through. ”

Hitless through six against Hicksville right-hander Jackson Bergman, freshman Aiden Lichty opened the Antwerp bottom of the seventh with a hit-by-pitch on a 1-2 count.

“We talked about bunting,” Feasby said of his discussion with the Antwerp six-hole hitter prior to his at-bat. “At the end of our conversation I just said ‘any way on.'”

Carson Altimus then hit a bunt to third that bounced over the head of Zackery Thatcher moving Lichty to second and Altimus to first with the initial hit of the game for the Archers. Eli Reinhart then executed a sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third with Reid Lichty coming to the plate.

“I was a little nervous heading into the at-bat, but I’ve been working hard and I crave opportunities like that to come through for the team,” the Antwerp sophomore explained.

After two balls, Lichty fouled off a pitch before a swing and miss put the count at 2-2.

“With two strikes I knew I had to shorten up my swing and just put one in play,” reflected Lichty, who promptly singled up the middle to bring in Aiden Lichty and Altimus, sending the Archers to districts for the fourth season in a row. .

“I made sure to get my foot down on time and just put one in play and it found a hole through the middle,” Lichty said. “I was on cloud nine after that because it’s what every kid dreams of growing up playing baseball.”

Feasby was ecstatic to have his number nine batter come through.

“We talked to the guys about the situation with two strikes and to try to at least put it in play,” Feasby said. “He hit it up the middle and got it past the shortstop. I’m glad Carson’s fast. He had the jets on and made it to the plate. ”

The two-run inning brought an end to a pitching duel between Bergman and Luke Krouse. While the Hicksville senior did not allow a hit until the seventh, Krouse was magnificent for Antwerp allowing just four hits, two in the second when the Aces scored on a Bergman one-out single, a walk to Mavrik Keesbury and a David Taylor RBI single . The Antwerp southpaw got out of the frame with a pair of strikeouts en route to 12 on the day.

“We wouldn’t have been in that situation in the bottom of the seventh without Luke pitching the way he did,” Feasby said. “His performance gave us that opportunity.

“He’s just been on,” the Antwerp coach said of the Green Meadows Conference Player of the Year who is committed to Bowling Green. “He went through some arm soreness earlier in the year but since he’s been back it’s been Luke Krouse at his best. He’s getting ahead in counts so he can control at-bats. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He’s fun to watch. ”

Bergman, a Toledo commit who could match up with Krouse in the Mid-American Conference at the next level, was masterful in defeat.

“He hasn’t thrown a bunch of innings but I had a feeling coming in. He’d be tough on us,” Feasby said of Bergman. “He’s always pitched well against us. We had a plan with being selective and making him work, but he seemed to settle in. Most of the time he got on top early. We didn’t have a lot of solid hits against him. “

The hard-throwing right-hander struck out seven and allowed four walks to go along with the one big hit-by-pitch.

“Luke was on and Bergman was on,” Feasby noted. “Obviously there wasn’t a lot of offense. They scored early and Bergman kept pitching well. Thankfully Aiden got on and Carson had a heck of a bunt and Eli’s bunt was big. Then Reid got the big hit.

“We’ve battled at times this year with guys getting down on themselves a lot,” continued Feasby, whose Archers are now 15-5 on the season. “It’s turned into disagreements and we’ve addressed that. Tonight everybody stayed positive. We made things happen and executed at the end of the game. ”

Antwerp, the seventh-rated team in the state in Division IV by Prep Baseball Report, will now face Edon on Wednesday at 6:30 pm in the district semifinals at Bryan. Wayne Trace and Ayersville collide in the 4 pm opener with the two survivors meeting at 5 pm Friday for a berth in the regionals.

Linescore

Hicksville 010 000 0 – 1 4 2

Antwerp 000 000 2 – 2 2 0

Records: Antwerp 15-5, Hicksville 8-11.

Winning pitcher: Luke Krouse (7 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 12 strikeouts, 1 walk).

Losing pitcher: Jackson Bergman (6.1 innings, 2 runs, 2 hits, 7 strikeouts, 4 walks).

Leading hitters: (Hicksville) – Broy Balser double; Aaron Klima single; Jackson Bergman single; David Taylor single. (Antwerp) – Carson Altimus single; Reid Lichty single.

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