COLUMBUS GROVE — Columbus Grove came through with some last at-bat heroics Tuesday evening to defeat Bluffton 7-6 in a Division III sectional semi-final that went nine innings.
The win advances the Bulldogs (14-7) to the sectional finals Friday evening against fourth seeded Allen East at 5 p.m. in Harrod.
Columbus Grove and the Pirates needed extra innings after the Pirates scored twice in the top of the seventh inning to tie the game at 6-6.
The Pirates entered the top of the seventh down 6-4, but took advantage of three walks in the inning to push across two runs.
Maddie Willis walked to start the Bluffton seventh, but was forced at second base as Olivia Hunt reached. Walks to Mackayla Wilson and Abby Parkins loaded the bases with one out. Sami Fruchey hit a slow roller down the third base line with the Bulldogs trying for the out at home plate. The throw home was bobbled allowing Hunt to score.
A flyball to center field by Taylor Monday tied the game at 6-6 before a popup to third base ended the Pirate threat.
Columbus Grove was unable to mount a threat in the bottom of the seventh and both teams threatened in the eighth only to leave runners at third base. Bluffton managed a base runner in their half of the ninth, but was unable to advance the runner past first base.
In the bottom of the ninth, Hope Schroeder opened it with a walk and Micah Stechschulte reached on a bunt down the third base line. The Bulldog runners were unable to advance on a flyball to center before Monica Delgado moved Schroeder to third base with a flyball to right field. Stechschulte stole second base with Brooke Hoffman at the plate. The left hand hitting Hoffman then lined a pitch towards third base that glanced off the fielders glove and into short left field allowing Schroeder to score the winning run.
Schroeder (13-3) picked up the win for Grove as she allowed six runs, four earned, on five hits with seven strikeouts, but she walked eight batters.
Schroeder was the Bulldogs hitting star with a two run home run and a double. Mackenzie Wurth had two hits for the Bulldogs.
Sami Fruchey took the loss as she went the distance allowing seven runs, five earned, on 10 hits with three strikeouts and six walks.
Cheyenne Treen had two singles for the Pirates.
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Bluffton 102 001 200 - 6 5 3
Columbus Grove 201 102 001 - 7 10 1
WP-H. Schroeder (13-3). LP-Fruchey.