By ANDY WOLF
SHELBY — Upper Sandusky’s Jason Holly has pitched on windier days and even struck out more batters than he did Thursday.
But it was still awfully gusty and he still recorded up a good share of punchouts.
Holly fanned 13 batters and allowed just six hits and the top-seeded Rams defeated Oak Harbor 11-2 in a Division III district semifinals.
Upper Sandusky (20-5), which played in its first district semifinal since 2009, will meet No. 3 seed Gibsonburg (16-3) in the district final at noon Saturday at Shelby.
“Senior year, it’s extremely exciting,” Holly said. “Great group of guys, so it’s fun to take the field with everyone.
“We’ve made a bunch of history this year, so we just keep adding to it. Hopefully, we can get a win on Saturday.”
Holly was a few off his career-high of 17 strikeouts earlier this season against Seneca East.
He didn’t record one in the first, needing to settle in with the wind sailing pitches outside, but had multiple Ks in the each of the final six innings.
“(The wind) actually played a big factor when I came here,” Holly said. “It was blowing (north), so I’m throwing a two-seam fastball. It just took that away, so I had to adjust.
“I started throwing a four-seam, which I don’t throw ever.”
Right as Holly settled in, Upper’s bats heated up.
The Rams pounded out 14 hits, including six doubles, off Kyle Hanselman and tagged him for 10 runs in 42/3 innings. Upper scored runs in all six innings.
Upper’s Brenyn Marquart went 3 for 3 with two doubles and three RBIs. Parker Frombaugh also doubled twice and drove in a pair of runs.
That duo struck for RBI doubles on consecutive pitches in the first inning to put Upper on the board first at 2-0.
Then, the flood gates opened.
Holly led off the second inning with an infield single. The Rams continued hit, sending nine batters to the plate and scoring four runs on five hits — all with two out.
Cole Sowers, Frombaugh (2B) and Marquart all had RBI hits in the frame
“We’ve had some windier days, but that was pretty windy,” Upper Sandusky coach Scott Emerick said. “The balls hit straight ahead were ending up in left field. Luckily, we didn’t have to deal with too many of the fly balls to the outfield.”
With a 6-0 cushion, it was all Holly from there.
He struck out five straight through the second and third innings, allowed a run in the fourth and pitched out of a jam in the sixth.
Oak Harbor loaded the bases on three straight singles with nobody out and trailing 10-1.
However, the Rockets only came away with one run and left them loaded as Holly slammed the door with consecutive strikeouts.
Hunter Lacer singled and had an RBI for Oak Harbor (9-17).
“He kept them off balance,” Emerick said. “The wind had a lot to do with it too. It was messing with his pitches — almost made his fastball look like a changeup or a curveball.”
Oak Harbor coach Nick Lance felt Holly was getting ahead in the count often and using his effective stuff.
“With him being as tall as he is, 6-5, 6-6, that’s a different look that we really just don’t get to see a whole lot,” Lance said. “Being a lefty is another factor. He threw a great ballgame and they put it in play.
“They made us make plays. Sometimes we did, sometimes we didn’t.”
Oak Harbor 000 101 0 — 2 6 4
Upper Sandusky 241 211 x — 11 14 0
WP — Holly. LP — Hanselman. TOP HITTERS: (OH) Lacer 1B, RBI. (US) Sowers 2-1B, 2 RBI; Frombaugh 2-2B, 2 RBI; Marquart 2-2B, 1B, 3 RBI; Giesy 2B, RBI; Passet 1B, RBI; Sheaffer 2B.
RECORDS: Oak Harbor 9-17; Upper Sandusky 21-5.