The Ohio Warhawks steamrolled through pool play at the 2019 Pathway Games Omaha. Sidestepping the Nebraska Prospects, 12-0, on Monday, the Warhawks latched together two consecutive victories on Tuesday, downing the MNS BlackSox 9-0 and finishing off with an 8-0 win over Great Lakes 17u Black.
“We’re still fighting to get to know each other,” said head coach Ron Slusher. “We try to teach our kids to take advantage of every opportunity.
“You have to get them out of showcase mentality and learn to help each other. It’s a good tournament with some really good teams and we’re having fun.”
After blanking Great Lakes in the top of the first inning, Ohio got right down to business in the bottom half of the frame. A single and a double would set up Kai Roberts with an opportunity to push across the game’s first run. Roberts promptly lifted the ball to deep left field, putting the Warhawks on the board.
“I was looking for a fastball early,” Roberts said. “I got the pitch I was looking for and I took advantage of it.”
Once it grabbed the lead, Ohio would not look back. Capitalizing on a pair of errors from Great Lakes, the Warhawks added two runs in the third inning and two more in the fifth, extending its advantage, 6-0.
In the thick of everything was Roberts. His efficient day at the dish included two hits, a hit-by-pitch, a sacrifice fly, two runs scored and two RBI.
“I’m just trying to get stronger right now,” said Roberts. “We’re just trying to do our best and win some games this summer.”
Meanwhile, Ohio’s army of pitchers was keeping Great Lakes at bay. In six shutout innings, Warhawk pitchers combined for six strikeouts. In the rare cases where Great Lakes managed to get into scoring position, the Ohio defense turned up its intensity, grabbing flashy double plays in the fourth and sixth innings.
“Our team ERA is 1.20,” said Slusher. “That’s unheard of at this level. This team doesn’t want to give up a run. When it comes close, these boys have a good tendency to bear down.
“Everyone gets more hard-nosed. Our pitchers throw more strikes. Our defense doesn’t let anything by them. These guys are great kids.”
Two more runs plated on five walks in the bottom of the sixth inning pushed the Warhawk lead to 8-0, good enough for a run-rule with an inning to spare. Ohio’s win not only marked a third straight victory in pool A but also a No. 1 overall seed as bracket play begins Tuesday morning.
The Warhawks will match up against the MGF Marshalls who are coming off two consecutive wins themselves. The semifinal contest is set for 10:30 a.m. at Werner Park.
“I just want them to show up and play like they’ve been playing,” Slusher said. “Whatever happens, I want them to lay it on the line tomorrow.
“We’re going to play some pretty good teams from here on out. We’re pretty familiar with the teams left in this tournament. We usually have some pretty good games between us. It’s going to be a dogfight.”