Raiders bat away Girard

STRUTHERS – There were rough moments for both Girard and South Range during a marquee Division III district semifinal matchup.

The teams, which came in with a combined 42-7 record, committed seven errors and allowed 20 hits and 15 runs. The difference in the game was that the Raiders didn’t allow the bad to interfere with what they do so well: hit.

South Range scored in every inning but one and strung together a pair of early rallies that put the Indians in a hole they couldn’t climb out of in a 10-5 Raiders victory. The win sets South Range (23-3) up with a district final rematch against Ursuline at 6:30 tonight at Cene Park.

“We already beat them once,” said Raiders first baseman Dan Macinga of their 9-5 victory over Ursuline earlier this season. “But they’re a great ballclub. Very fundamentally sound on defense. The only big thing is they don’t have (former Ursuline pitcher Sam) Donko anymore.”

Reaching this point took another solid approach by the South Range hitters. The Raiders chased Girard (20-5) starter Kyle Harris after just 1 2/3 innings. He allowed six runs and walked four. Harris was 7-0 and the Indians’ No. 1 pitcher all season, but he walked the first two batters of the game and then gave up a two-run double to Bill Goodall, who entered the game batting .564 with 52 doubles.

“He was struggling even after that (double) to get ahead in the count,” Girard coach Aaron Alejars said. “I don’t know if the big-time game got to him or what, but it’s definitely out of character for him.”

The Raiders took a 3-0 lead in the first and added three more in the second, chasing Harris after the five of the first seven batters reached safely. Zach Thorpe and Ryan Miller provided RBI singles and Macinga added a sacrifice fly. Macinga, who finished 2-for-2 with a walk, a run and two RBIs, said he played against Harris and Girard second baseman Jimmy Standohar in the summer, and he utilized that experience.

“I played with them and against them,” Macinga said. “So we had a little bit of an advantage from summer ball, knowing what (Harris) likes to throw.”

Girard didn’t stay down for long.

The Raiders led, 7-1, but the Indians scored four runs in the third to make it 7-5, led by Standohar and Harris, who doubled and tripled, respectively. Yet, as it did all game, South Range struck right back, adding one run each in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings.

The constant offense zapped the energy out of Girard’s comeback attempt.

“It keeps their demeanor and morale down,” said Macinga, who then talked about how the Raiders avoided a similar trap. “That one inning, we had four errors, and most teams would have gotten down and let it bother them, but that’s not South Range baseball. We expect much better from ourselves, so we just bounced right back.”

South Range starter Greg Dunham held the Indians in check the rest of the way. He struck out five, didn’t walk a batter and allowed five runs – three earned – in a complete-game performance. He also gave the Raiders a shot at redemption. Ursuline, who beat Springfield, 7-1, in the other semifinal Wednesday, pounded South Range, 11-1, in the 2013 district final and went on to the state semifinal.

“That was our goal coming into the tournament, to win the district,” South Range coach Jim Hanek said, “and we’re one game away.”

SR: 3-3-1-1-0-1-110-11-4

G: 0-1-4-0-0-0-05-9-3

SR-Greg Dunham (7IP, 5K, 0BB) and Ryan Miller.

G-Kyle Harris, lp (1 2/3IP, 1K, 4BB), Christian Bello (4 2/3IP, 2K, 1BB), Ryan Leasure (2/3IP, 0K, 1BB) and Austin Degregory.