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COSHOCTON -- A pair of talented underclassmen hurlers hooked up in the Division II District Championship Game on Wednesday at the Lake Park Sports Complex.
Sophomore Hunter McClellan toed the rubber for the fourth-seeded Meadowbrook Colts, while taking the mound for fifth-seeded Indian Valley was junior Evan Miller.
When the dust settled, it was Miller who continued the Braves impressive pitching in the postseason tossing a complete game five-hitter to lead IV to the district title with a 6-2 victory.
Coming in with back-to-back shutout victories to reach the district title game, Miller didn't quite equal that impressive mark but was still very effective in holding down the Colts' offense.
"Evan has pitched well all year for us and did so again tonight," IV head coach Shannon McComb offered. "He's a very level-headed kid and did a great job of working ahead most of the night."
"He was able to pretty much pitch to contact and we played pretty solid defense behind him," McComb added. "We had a couple of breakdowns, but Evan was able to limit the damage for the most part."
For first-year Meadowbrook head coach Tyler Engle, the effort from his young sophomore hurler was nothing new.
"Hunter has been steady all year for us...he really pitched well," Engle explained. "He was tough tonight. I thought he had good command of the strike zone and had a good breaking ball.
"Really, I thought it was a well pitched game by both kids," the Colts' coach continued. "They both battled all night and gave good efforts out on the mound."
McClellan took the tough-luck loss despite tossing five strong innings, finishing with four Ks and four walks.
Indian Valley opened the scoring with a second inning run off McClellan, with junior Colbey McBeth leading off the frame with a double to the right-center field gap.
After McClellan regrouped to retire the next two hitters, senior Wyatt Garabrandt stepped up and stroked a clutch double to bring McBeth across with the game's first run for a 1-0 lead.
The score stayed that way until the Colts finally reached Miller to take their first lead of the night.
Junior Ryan Rusnak stroked a double to start the inning, and he came around to score thanks to an IV error on a hard-hit ball by sophomore Devin Norman to tie the contest at 1-1.
Meadowbrook would then grab a 2-1 lead when senior Ben Davis came through with a two-out base hit to right field to plate Norman.
Indian Valley pulled even at 2-2 in the fifth, with sophomore Dalton Burcher, who reached with a single, coming home thanks to a Colts' miscue on a deep fly ball hit by sophomore Braeden Lehigh.
In their next trip to the plate, the Braves were able to knock McClellan from the game by pushing across three runs to take a 5-2 lead.
Burcher and sophomore Cade Williams delivered the big hits in the inning with RBI singles for IV.
Indian Valley tacked on an insurance run in the top of the seventh to extend the lead to 6-2, with the Colts coming up for one last attempt to extend their season.
To their credit, the Colts refused to go down quietly and managed to plate a pair of runs for the final score of 6-4 to finish as district runners-up with a final record of 14-12.
"I'm proud of what we accomplished this year," Engle said. "We got things headed in the right direction I want to get our program up to where playing for district titles is the norm around here."
Engle went on to give a huge amount of credit to his six seniors who played their final game- Davis, Wade Urdak, Konnor Roberts, Steve McPeek, Christian Dodd and David Scharenberg.
"Our seniors were our table-setters all year...they made us go," Engle stated. "They bought into our system from day one and that goes a long way for a coach stepping into his first year. I'm very appreciative of that along with all the hard work they gave me."
Indian Valley will play Steubenville in the D-II Regional semifinals next Thursday (May 25) at Gant Stadium in Zanesville at 2 p.m.