By BRIAN LESTER
ELIDA — One day earlier, Elmwood’s baseball team rallied from a two-run deficit and stunned top-ranked Coldwater in the regional tournament semifinals.
But the Royals couldn’t put together another seemingly improbable comeback on Saturday afternoon in the Division III regional final against Clear Fork.
No. 9 Elmwood was torched during a five-run fourth inning by the second-ranked Colts and was unable to bounce back in a 6-4 loss to Clear Fork on a hot May afternoon at Ed Sandy Field.
Clear Fork (30-2) will now face Independence (28-3) in Thursday’s 7 p.m. Division III state semifinal at Huntington Park in Columbus.
“The one big inning was the difference,” Elmwood head coach Kyle Reiser said. “You have to give them credit for coming up with big hits and keeping our hitters at bay.”
The Royals (24-5) led 1-0 after one inning when Jack Waldock came home from third on a throwing error. The lead was short-lived, though.
Clear Fork opened the fourth inning with four straight hard-hit singles to the outfield.
Matt Squires and Jake Dickerson hit run-scoring singles during the outburst before Logan Perkins blasted a three-run home run to center to give the Colts a commanding 5-1 lead.
Squires also drove in a run in the fifth. The Colts finished with eight hits.
Senior Cody King refused to believe the Royals were done.
“We’ve been here before,” King said. “We always believe we have a chance. This time it didn’t work out.”
Reid Rothenbuhler hit an infield single that drove in a run and cut the deficit to 6-2 in the fifth. The Royals scored two more runs in the seventh on a groundout and error before Brendan Liberti finished off his complete-game effort by striking out Conlan Varty.
Liberti allowed only two runs and two hits.
Varty pitched 31/3 innings. He gave up five runs on seven hits in 31/3 innings of work. He struck out two and walked two.
“I’m proud of our effort,” Reiser said. “We battled to the end. We accomplished a lot this season. The loss just stings right now.”
Clear Fork 000 510 0 — 6 8 6
Elmwood 100 010 2 — 4 2 1
WP — Liberti. LP — Varty.