Cleveland Blaze

Cleveland holds off Zanesville

Blaze win final game 8-7

The Cleveland Blaze held off a 7th-inning rally from the Zanesville Junior Pioneers to win the final game of the western regional 8-7. Cleveland took the series 2 games to 1 and will now advance to the AAABA national tournament beginning on August 10th.

The Blaze won their 4-team Great Lakes Baseball League for the right to represent the franchise. They are led by first year head coach Joe Borkey. Since returning to the AAABA in 2006, Cleveland has posted as 15-14 record in 7 tournaments, thanks in large part to the Chardon Blizzard teams of 2011-2013. Post-tournament rules violations in 2013 led to the franchise being suspended last year. While the Blaze players and coaches were not involved in those violations, they faced the penalty for it by having to play through the regional this year.

Cleveland split their first two games on Saturday (winning 2-0 and losing 10-6) and then fought past Zanesville on Sunday afternoon. After taking a 3-0 lead, the Blaze surrendered 5 runs in the fourth inning and fell behind Zanesville 5-3. Cleveland retook the lead with a 4 runs in the bottom of the fifth. The hometown Pioneers battled through the seventh inning, scored 2 runs, and had the tying run on third base

For the Junior Pioneers, the loss brings and end to one of their most successfull summers. The team won 24 consecutive games under second-year head-coach Dave Balo and won the Central Ohio Collegiate League championship with a 16-0 record. Unfortunately, the Pioneers could not deliver in the post-season. They first dropped a 2-1 series to the AAABA-bound Columbus Jets in the OICBA championship series, and then lost the regional to Cleveland. As regional host, the Pioneers usually have a direct bid to Johnstown, but--like Cleveland--were paying for violations incurred by previous teams. In this case, the 2013 Zanesville entry failed to register the minimum number of players for the national tournament. As a result, Zanesville did not recieve a direct bid this year, so their regional loss marks the end of their AAABA season.

This will be the first time Zanesville has not competed in the national tournament since 2001.

During Saturday's action, Sam Blackburn of the Zanesville Times Recorder reports that Junior Pioneer pitcher Dallas Allen was hit in the face by a line drive and was rushed to the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus. We have no updates on his condition at this time.

WHIZ Sports in Zanesville has posted video from Saturday's games here.

GAME 1 Runs
Cleveland 2
Zanesville 0

GAME 1 Runs
Zanesville 10
Cleveland 6

GAME 1 Runs
Cleveland 8
Zanesville 7


Game reports from Pat Chiesa's Twitter feed, reporting for WHIZ Sports.

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