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Lions are charming in win over Clippers

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Morning Journal/Matt Morrison
Columbiana first baseman Colin Keleman reaches for a throw as Heartland’s Seth Walker reach base safely Friday.

COLUMBIANA– The third time was the charm for the Heartland Christian baseball team as it came from behind to edge Columbiana 11-9 on Friday.

Columbiana won the previous two season matchups against Heartland Christian.

“Coming in I’m like you know what he (his son Bryce) has had his two wins,” Heartland Christian coach Mark Franken said. “We really wanted this one.”

“It is a good feeling,” Heartland Christian senior Jake Walker said. “We play these guys the time in basketball and in baseball. It is always fun and competitive.”

Heartland Christian improves to 8-10, while Columbiana drops to 14-9.

Heartland Christian came from behind 9-3 by scoring eight runs in the sixth inning to take the lead for good.

The big run in the sixth inning was powered by Jake Walker, who had a single to center field that cut the deficit 9-6, while his cousin Seth Walker hit a single to left field that made it 9-8. Seth Walker later scored the tying run on a wild pitch.

“We met right before that inning,” Mark Franken said. “I just said we just have to keep chopping wood.”

“You just have to take every at bat the same,” Jake Walker said. “Just stick with you approach and try not to change anything up. Maybe make a little adjustment, but just try to stay true to who you are and hit the ball hard.”

Jake Walker had two hits, two runs scored and two RBIS, while Seth Walker had two RBIs, two hits and one run scored. Tyler Rarick had one RBI, two hits and one run scored. Owen Bender had one hit and one run scored. Jack Morgan and Brett Walker each scored one run.

Seth Walker started for Heartland Christian as he allowed two earned runs on two hits with three strikeouts and one walk in two innings. Christian Hamilton earned the victory in relief and, allowing two earned runs on six hits with three walks and one strikeout in 4 2/3 innings. Will Morgan earned the save by getting the final out.

Columbiana was in a comfortable 9-3 lead until starting pitcher Anthony Hall came out in the sixth inning and then that’s Heartland rallied.

“I really thought Anthony Hall really pitched his tail off,” Columbiana coach Bryce Franken said. “We thought getting him out of there with a 9-3 lead was the safe bet. We just didn’t make the plays when we needed to.”

Hall allowed three earned runs on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts through five innings. Sam Inboden allowed four earned runs on two hits with three walks and one strikeout through in two-thirds of an inning. Colin Keleman pitched 1 1/3 innings and allowed no runs with two strikeouts.

Ian Less had two hits and two runs scored for the Clippers, while Alex Eusebio had one RBI, two hits and one run scored. Hall had two RBIs, one hit and one run scored. Cameron Clancy had three RBIs and one hit.

Bryce Franken enjoys playing against his dad (Mark), but will have to work on some minor fundamentals with his team before the tournament starts.

“Getting to play against my dad is always a cool experience, but there are some little things that we need to hone in on before the tournament,” Bryce Franken said. “Some little things that were happening I actually felt unnerved about.”

Heartland Christian and Columbiana will wait and see who it will match up with in tournament play when the draw comes out on Sunday.

“Sunday at 2 p.m. is the draw,” Heartland Christian coach Mark Franken said. “When the calendar turned to May we decided that we are treating every game as if it was the playoffs. From here on and out we are playing with the ‘win or go home’ mentality.”

“I probably have us somewhere between an 8 or 12 (seed),” Columbiana coach Bryce Franken said. “Our district is very deep in Division III. It is really a guessing game on what other people are going to put on the voting. We feel like we built a good resume just with our non-league schedule.”

Heartland Christian will play Warren JFK at Eastwood Field on Saturday, while Columbiana will play at Howland on Saturday.

HC: 1-2-0-0-0-8-0–11-8-6

CO: 2-1-1-0-5-0-0– 9-8-4

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