New Albany defeats Elder in Division I state baseball final
Elder High School won't soon forget its 2021 baseball team.
The Panthers completed their memorable season as the Division I state runner-up late Sunday night at Canal Park in Akron. New Albany defeated Elder 6-5.
Despite an early deficit, the Panthers rallied late in the game with a thrilling sixth inning.
The Panthers (25-9) scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and almost tied the game in a remarkable turn of events.
Elder senior Marco Sabato had a two-run single with one out in the sixth to help close the gap at 6-3. His single scored senior Brian Weber and junior Jeremy Ward. Weber had a one-out single up the middle to start the offensive attack.
Later, sophomore Kevin Hilton scored on a passed ball to make it 6-4. Sabato scored when sophomore Luke Vaughn singled left through the left side to close the gap to 6-5.
But the Panthers stranded runners at first and third to end the inning.
New Albany (29-5) was able to close out the game in the bottom of the seventh inning on three batters for its second state baseball title.
New Albany earned the early momentum Sunday night in a game that didn't start until after 9 p.m. due to the state tournament being delayed earlier in the day due to rain.
New Albany scored three runs in the top of the first inning to take an early lead.
The Panthers responded in the bottom half of the first inning when senior Zak Schlachter singled up the middle with two outs to score Vaughn to close the gap to 3-1.
New Albany scored two runs in the third and one in the fourth inning for a 6-1 lead.
Elder reached the state final for the first time since 2010, when it was a Division I state runner-up.
The Panthers defeated Toledo St. John's Jesuit 4-1 in the state semifinal on Saturday. It was the seventh consecutive win for the Panthers, who also won regional and district championships on the journey to Akron.
Elder coach Mark Thompson also earned his 600th career win in the Panthers' 3-0 win over Beavercreek in the district final May 27 at Vandalia Butler.
Elder earned its 21st trip to the state tournament. Elder has won 12 state titles in program history.
New Albany was in its second state baseball tournament. New Albany won the Division III state championship in 2004.