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Hot Stove baseball: North Ridgeville Icon shuts out Sheffield Pavers, heads to Class EE final

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ALLIANCE — No margin for error wasn’t a problem for Rickie Morales.

Morales threw a shutout, striking out seven, to help the North Ridgeville Icon win 8-0 against the Sheffield Pavers in the Class EE (ages 15-16) losers bracket final of the Hot Stove baseball state tournament Saturday at Butler Rodman Park.

All nine classes will hold their finals today with the Icon taking on the Garfield G-Men at 10:30 a.m. It will need to win twice to bring home the Class EE championship as Classes EE, E (17-18) and D (19 and up) are double elimination. If Icon wins, it plays again at 3:30 p.m.

“I was just really hoping my defense had my back and just worked on my pitches with my catcher,” Morales said. “Me and my catcher knew what we were going to do. We had each other’s backs and we shut it down.”

Morales’ defense definitely had his back, specifically third baseman Jon

St. Peter, who made a clutch catch with the game still scoreless in the top of the third inning. Sheffield was threatening to score with two outs and runners on second and third and cleanup hitter Gabe Pawloski stepping into the box. He rifled a shot down the third base line that would have surely scored both runs had St. Peter not lunged out and made a great snag.

The Icon came out in its half and put four runs on the board, never looking back.

“Any little play can change the game,” Icon coach Jason Waite said. “I felt honestly the game could have gone (Sheffield’s) way, but that one play really ignited our offense. We came in and hit the ball immediately after that.”

Five other local teams played in the morning session with Wellington Snap-On defeating the Champion Indians 10-3 in the Class G (11-12) semifinals.

Snap-On wasted no time asserting itself with a three-run first inning. Champion cut the lead to one in the second, but Wellington came right back with four in the third and added insurance runs in the fourth, fifth and seventh.

Despite the win, Wellington coach John Kinter still sees room for improvement coming into today’s final against Alliance Am Legion at 11 a.m.

“I’ll be honest with you, we didn’t play as well as we normally do,” Kinter said. “I don’t know what happened, but we did score 10 runs and that’s what I’m proud of with this team. They found a way to win even though we didn’t play particularly well.”

The Am Legion spoiled an All-Lorain County final in Class G with a 9-7 win over the North Ridgeville Rangers. North Ridgeville led 5-3, but Alliance knotted things up with runs in the fourth and fifth.

The Rangers scored two more in the sixth, but Alliance answered with four in its half to seal the deal.

“I’ve got to give credit to some unsung heroes,” Rangers coach Jon Flesher said. “Dylan Bartell was crushing the ball and came through here when others didn’t. Our one, two and three batters struggled a little bit, but we were picked up from the bottom of the order and that’s really awesome. I judge my success by the growth of the kids and I’d say I was very successful because these kids were.”

The Sheffield Venom couldn’t force a rematch with the North Ridgeville Gladiators, who knocked out the Venom 8-5 in the winner’s bracket final July 13. Sheffield lost to Swb Homeworth Fab 5-2 in the Class E semis Saturday. The Gladiators will take on Homeworth Fab at 10:30 a.m. today and if they lose will play a winner-take-all game at 3:30 p.m.

Two other teams had opposite fortunes — Black River Red Maple advanced to the Class H (9-10) final today at 1 p.m. with a 6-2 win over the Canton South Wildcats. The Midview Mavericks lost to the Ravenna Monsters 15-5 in the Class I (7-8) semifinals.

Contact Chris Sweeney at (440) 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com and follow him @CSweeneyCT on Twitter.
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