Two Amherst Hot Stove teams came up just short at the state championship tournament in Alliance this past weekend, but there are still plenty of reasons for these young men to celebrate.
Coach John Pieschalski said his nine-year-old sluggers, representing Nick Mayer Ford, finished as state runners-up after falling 12-4 to the North Ridgeville Autorama Twins.
The boys did manage to take down Alliance Xexcel 22-6 in the semifinals.
The 11U team also made it to the state final four, losing in extra innings to Wellington Advantage Construction 7-6.
The nine-year-olds finished 22-3 overall while the 11-year-olds went 21-3.
“We played very well this season. Winning three games in the state tournament took us to the final four in Alliance. For our 9U team, it is their first year in Hot Stove and going 18-2 in the regular season is a nice accomplishment,” said Pieschalski.
“It feels amazing to have this kind of success right away,” said infielder L.J. Hurlbut. “We met each other through the coach pitch league and this season has been a great change to get to know each other even more. I play shortstop and pitch but I prefer shortstop and how much responsibility it gives me in the infield.”
Landon Wolf talked about getting used to facing tougher pitching competition.
“We struggled through parts of this season when we played some pretty tough teams but we responded with victories,” he said. “Those teams came at us with pitchers who could really throw the ball hard and we had to adjust. A pitcher from Grafton had a rising fastball that was very tough to hit.”
Logan Banyas said coming together as a team was a main factor in the on-field success.
“We stay motivated by holding each other accountable,” he said. “Between games we always look for ways to help each other with our swings and fielding. It’s all about working together and finding different things we have in common on the baseball field and in life.”
Pieschalski said he wants to see broader measures taken to ensure that today’s youth continue to learn about and enjoy baseball.
“There need to be resources provided to kids who don’t have their own means to play. Fixing up fields in areas of need would help a great deal,” he said.
“Donations from corporations and organizations to provide equipment is always a huge plus. Baseball is a great game. It is a little bit slower moving. In today’s day and age that isn’t always the most popular thing but it’s a great, true team game. I know football has taken over in a lot of ways but baseball is still our pastime.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Amherst News-Times Amherst’s nine- and 11-year-old Hot Stove teams went 22-3 and 21-3 respectively this summer. Both made it to the final four in state tournament play in Alliance this past weekend.