MEDINA — It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
The Medina baseball team lived by those words Thursday to keep its postseason dreams alive with a 13-3 five-inning victory over Copley in the Barberton Division I Sectional finals.
The second-seeded Bees (17-10) advanced to face sixth-seeded Firestone (20-8) on Tuesday at the Barberton Sports Complex in Norton.
Not much went right for Medina at the start, as the Bees helped Copley (8-17) with two fielding errors, a throwing error and a missed assignment on a double steal. That helped give the Indians a 3-0 lead after right fielder Gavin Smargiasso delivered Copley’s only hit of the inning to score senior Kyler Farkas.
“It was a little rough in the top of the first,” Bees coach Nick Kaplack said. “Most of our guys have not played in a playoff game. We have a lot of new guys, and some of those things are going to happen.”
After that point, nothing much went wrong for the Bees, who answered in the home half of the inning and never let their foot off the gas pedal.
Copley gave back two errors to put leadoff hitter Ethan Johnson and Kyle Adams on second and third, and starting pitcher Nathan Young hit senior Breydan Cavey to load the bases. Nate Lucarelli ripped a single that plated Johnson, and sophomore Jake Johnson later capped the four-run inning with a two-run single to left field to give Medina a 4-3 lead.
Jake Johnson had a huge game with three hits, five RBIs and three runs, including the game-ending score in the fifth.
“Coach (Kaplack) was telling me all week long that the playoffs are a new season for me, and I’ve got a new chance to do something for the team,” he said.
The Bees went back to work in the second, as a Cavey walk and Lucarelli hit by pitch preceded a Haberkorn single that scored Cavey when Smargiasso struggled to pick up the ball. Jake Johnson then delivered a double that drove in Lucarelli before left fielder Josh Bobey smashed an RBI double to left-center. Catcher Brenden Stewart put Medina ahead 8-3 with a groundout.
“We had a really nice day (Wednesday) doing nothing but hitting,” Kaplack said. “Any flaws we had, we worked on them and just did nothing but hitting.”
Once the Bees got a handle on defense, starting pitcher Eric Bertulies and reliever Ryan Fischer stifled Copley. Bertulies (4-2) gave up three unearned runs on two hits in three innings while striking out two, while Fischer struck out the side in the fourth and threw a perfect fifth.
Jake Johnson kicked off the bottom of the fourth with a walk and came around on a Kyle Maruna groundout. Ethan Johnson drove in Bobey with a base hit, and Ethan Johnson then stole second to tie the school record of 25 in a season held by first base coach Chris Arthur.
“It’s great (to tie the record),” Ethan Johnson said. “I’ve got to give a shout out to Coach Arthur for helping me get that.”
After hits by Cavey and Lucarelli, Jake Johnson smacked a two-out, two-run single in the fifth and scored on a single by Stewart to end the game.
Medina 13, Copley 3 (5 inn.)
Barberton Division I Sectional Final
COPLEY 300 00 — 3 2 4
MEDINA 440 23 — 13 11 4
WP — Eric Bertulies (4-2) 3 innings, 3 runs, 0 earned, 2 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts. LP — Nathan Young (2-3) ⅓ inning, 4 runs, 0 earned, 2 hits, walk, hit by pitch, 0 strikeouts. Copley (8-17). Medina (17-10) — Ethan Johnson single, run, RBI, stolen base; Breydan Cavey double, 2 walks, hit by pitch, 3 runs; Nate Lucarelli 3 singles, hit by pitch, 2 runs, RBI; Jake Johnson 2 singles, double, 5 RBIs, 3 runs; Josh Bobey double, 2 walks; Brenden Stewart double, 2 RBIs.