Things got interesting in the American Legion state baseball tournament on July 28 when perennial contender Bishop Gorman fell to Coronado in the first round.
The top-seeded Titans spent the week fighting through the losers’ bracket, and they erased all suspense early in Friday’s semifinal rematch on the way to a 7-2 victory over the No. 8 Cougars at Wilson Stadium.
Gorman, which has won five of the past six state titles and is the defending champion, will play Liberty in the title game at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The Titans (40-10) scored four runs in the first inning courtesy of RBI singles by Michael Blasko, Cole Krzmarzick and Matt Roth, and a run-scoring triple by Kenny Meimerstorf.
“We felt like if we could set the tone and get the early momentum, it would be demoralizing for (Coronado),” Gorman coach Nick Day said. “That’s what we wanted to do, and that’s what we did.”
Meimerstorf made the score 5-0 with a run-scoring single in the second, and starting pitcher Cody Roper made the most of the opportunity by tossing seven scoreless innings to improve to 6-1.
“Cody’s great,” Day said. “He came out and walked the first two guys he saw, and that’s never a good sign. But he got some double plays, and he settled down and commanded the strike zone the rest of the way.”
Gorman added runs in the seventh and eighth innings, and Coronado (14-12) finally got to the Titans’ bullpen with a solo home run by Cody Howard in the eighth and an unearned run in the ninth.
Krzmarzick, who went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, said the victory was rewarding in light of the fact that the Titans had to survive four elimination games to make the championship.
“We felt like we could come back,” he said. “We knew we had the pitching to come back.”
Day, whose team defeated Coronado 15-5 on Thursday in the first semifinal, said he expects a good battle from Liberty.
“I know they are set up really well,” said Day, noting that the Patriots are undefeated in the tournament. “They’ve had some days off, and they’re going to be able to come back with their best pitchers. But we hope to get them off balance a bit and to play some good defense. It should be a good game.”
Meimerstorf went 2-for-3 with two RBIs for the Titans.
Daniel Ritchie went 2-for-4 for Coronado.