COLUMBUS – Shane Ford threw a sensational one-hit shutout on Friday as the Triad Cardinals beat Cuyahoga Heights, 6-0, in the Division IV state baseball semifinals.
“It’s everything a kid can dream about. I’m not going to overpower anybody. I throw a hittable ball,” Ford said. “So I try to keep it low and trust my defense to go get me the win.”
The defense did just that, making a couple of nice plays in both the infield and the outfield to support their starter.
Triad got things going offensively in the second inning with a suicide squeeze from Dalton Holycross with the bases loaded and one out. Briley Harlan scored from third, nearly crossing the plate before the catcher had a chance to field the ball.
“That’s his first bunt in his whole high school career. He laid down a great bunt and we had a fast guy on third – it was perfect. That broke the ice,” Triad Coach Will Nichols said.
A couple of batters later, Trent McIntyre smashed a ball deep into right-center field for a bases-clearing triple that put the Cardinals up 4-0.
“That was a big hit, you can’t ask for more than that,” Nichols said.
It was all Ford from there, pitching with a lead for the first time in the game.
“You feel so much more relaxed and ready to give the team even more effort,” Ford said. “It’s all a mindset. The Lord gave me my ability to play ball, so I’m going give everything I have for Him and play in His name. So before I go out every inning, I draw a cross on the mound, just so I know that He is with me wherever I go.”
Ford’s no-hitter held up through the top of the fifth, and the Cardinals piled on more runs when Jacob Greve hit a double to right center and pinch-runner Austin Bails scored on a single by Alec Ober. Ober stole second and third, scoring on a Holycross chopper to the third baseman that Holycross managed to beat down the line.
Ford was able to put one more inning of zero-ball on the board before star player Aaron Kucia broke up his no-hit bid, leading off the 7th with a single.
But a few outs later, it was Triad’s game.
“We have been playing lights out. I can’t explain it. Teams get hot. We’re hot,” Nichols said.
The Cardinals are indeed playing better team baseball than at any point during the season, with great pitching, defense and hitting. The dugout provides plenty of encouragement, as well.
For the game, McIntyre was 2 for 3 with a triple and 3 RBI and Holycross was 2 for 3 with a pair of RBI. Greve was 1 for 2 with a double and Ober was 1 for 2.
The Cardinals will play Newark Catholic on Saturday in what will be a rematch of Triad’s 2004 championship game appearance.
Triad is hoping for a different outcome this time around, and with a 42-1 run differential in their six postseason games, there’s no reason to expect that can’t happen.
“It’s kinda weird – the fact that we’re seeing the same team 12 years later. We’re just going to go out and keep loose and keep doing what we’ve been doing and play the game,” Nichols said.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.