Two Amherst teams will play this weekend in the Hot Stove state championships.
Both 10U and 14U Panthers teams from the city are bound for Alliance to face the top travel rosters in Ohio.
That’s impressive because the program is so young. City councilman Chuck Winiarski, who is involved in the Amherst Athletic Association, said the teams were chartered just four years ago as part of the Lorain County Hot Stove League, part of the Ohio Hot Stove Baseball League.
Matt Opel, who holds the charter said he likes the Hot Stove structure: “You play 20 regular season games and the top two teams play for the county championship. Then the tournament starts, you throw the records out the window and everyone’s goal is to make it to Alliance to play for a state championship. I’m excited that in year three of the program we have two teams going.”
The 10U players racked up a 22-4 record this season and were named county champs. They will play Saturday against the Ravenna Warriors at Butler Rodman Park.
“This team has played sound, fundamental baseball all season,” said coach Steve Dobo. “There has been a good mixture of strong pitching, aggressive base running, and timely hitting. We have endured some great competition throughout the season and have grown into a solid unit of ball players.”
Jeff Milde, who coaches the 11U boys, saw his team go 10-5 with five games that couldn’t be made up before the July 3 deadline.
His Panthers only allowed one error in last three season games combined. Six players average over .450 for the season and four have home runs.
In two postseason games, the 11U Panthers have scored 23 runs. In the last four games, pitchers combined for 39 strikeouts.
“We have gone this far by being very aggressive in the batter’s box and on the bases,” Milde said. “When our pitching is on and we play solid defense, we dominate games. A very big factor of going this far is that the Panther kids never give up. When we are down, we fight to come back every time.”
The 11U Panthers will take on Sebring American Legion Saturday at Butler Rodman Park.