Three Rootstown Hot Stove teams storm into Alliance state semifinals

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Record-Courier staff report

Rootstown Hot Stove hit the trifecta Monday night, when three teams earned a trip to this weekend's state tournament in Alliance by capturing regional titles at Volunteer Park in Ravenna and Patterson Park in Akron.

In the I League regional final, Rootstown Firehouse Grill Pub/Cosar Mold scored five runs in the fifth inning to erase a four-run deficit and defeat Windham Eye's Towing 8-7.

Rootstown trailed 7-3 entering the bottom of the fifth frame, when Tyler Paulus started the rally with a single, and Will McEwuen followed with a home run to make it 7-5. After Tony Karp and Ryan Piscitani singled, Austin Biggin followed with a three-run inside-the-park homer that plated what proved to be the game-winning runs.

"I could not be more proud of our kids," said Rootstown coach Dan Paulus. "We were down by four to an excellent Windham team that played a great game, but we kept battling and found a way to win. We never lost faith."

Paulus finished with three singles, while Aiden Rodstrom also homered for Rootstown and finished with two hits, along with McEwuen, Karp, Kyle Moff and Zac Kurkey. Joey Weaver added a double for Firehouse.

Jordan Smithberger cracked a three-run homer well over the fence in left-centerfield, and also singled for Windham. Isaiah Lantz finished with three hits, Dominic Bortz had a double and single, while Jack Eye, Gavin Mayes and Justice Pahulsky had two hits each for Eye's Towing.

Rootstown will take on Wellington in the state semifinals on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Butler Rodman Park in Alliance.

In the GG League regional final, Rootstown Siciliano's Pizza completed a dominating run through the regional by blanking the Ellet Orioles 16-0. Siciliano's won every game in the tourney by 10 or more runs.

Pitchers Shawn Barber and Drake Mason combined for the five-inning shutout.

Kael Vasbinder led the Rootstown hit parade with two singles, a double and four RBI. Mason also had three hits and drove in three, while Matt Brown and Dillon Walsh had two hits and two RBI. Mason Kline and Jacob Collins added a pair of singles each.

"Our boys are playing great ball," said Rootstown coach Steve Vasbinder. "They're having quality at-bats. I couldn't ask for anything more."

In the HH League regional final, Rootstown Uphold Painting/Williams Renovations defeated Edinburg Carter 10-5. Rootstown has now won six tourney championships, and captured four straight Portage South league titles.

Mason Uphold belted a three-run homer, and was one of three Rootstown pitchers that held Edinburg in check, along with Branden Bobbs and Mitchell Weber.

Jake Rentsch had three hits, Kyle Weese cracked a pair of doubles, and Dylan Wise added a double for Uphold.

"I'm blessed with a team of All-Stars," said Rootstown coach Tom Weese. "I'm so proud of the hard work they've put in to get here."

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