AKRON — He spent the previous 36 hours receiving therapy for a severely sprained left ankle, but it was going to take more than an injury to keep Hillsdale’s Garrett Goodwin from toeing the rubber in Sunday’s Division IV state championship game at Canal Park.
And while the storybook ending eluded the Falcons in a 3-1 loss to Toronto, Goodwin’s gutsy complete-game effort was all anyone wanted to talk about afterward.
GALLERY: Hillsdale vs. Toronto Baseball
Toronto beat Hillsdale 3-1 in the Division IV state championship game Sunday afternoon at Akron's Canal Park. (photos by Curt Conrad, staff reporter)
“Garrett’s performance, with his ankle, was phenomenal,” first-year Hillsdale coach Jason Snow said. “He kept it where he needed to. He kept us in the game.”
“He went seven innings on one ankle,” Toronto coach Brian Perkins said. “He’s a tough kid.”
The Shawnee State-bound Goodwin injured the ankle during the postgame celebration after Hillsdale’s 1-0 win over Minster in Friday’s state semifinals. He didn’t practice Saturday and Snow didn’t decide to give him the ball until after he had warmed up in the bullpen before Sunday’s game.
“I’ve had some experience with playing through injuries, so one way or another I was going to find a way to play today,” said Goodwin, who estimated he was at 90 percent despite the bulky brace on his plant foot. “About the only thing that was going to keep me out was if I couldn’t walk on it.”
Toronto (28-5) got to Goodwin for two runs in the third. After recording two quick outs, Goodwin surrendered four straight singles. One run scored on a throwing error and the other came home on clean-up hitter Nick Sninchak’s single to left.
The two runs were more than enough for Toronto starter Nate Karaffa. The Ohio State recruit struck out 12, including eight of the first nine men he faced.
The Falcons (28-3) finally got to Karaffa for a run in the sixth. Carsten Betson was hit by a pitch with one out and came all the way around to score on clean-up hitter Briar Funk’s two-out double to left.
The Red Knights added an insurance run in the top of the seventh on another Sninchak RBI-single.
Hillsdale got its first man on in the bottom of the seventh when Garrett Crites was hit by a pitch. Karaffa induced a double-play ball and recorded his 12th strikeout to end the game.
The Falcons managed just two hits off the hard-throwing right-hander. He didn’t walk a batter but hit three.
Goodwin scattered 10 hits. He struck out four and walked two.
“That’s the type of kid he is. He just doesn’t give up,” Hillsdale’s Jay Luikart said of his classmate. “He did a heck of a job. That’s a great outing against a really good-hitting team.”
Hillsdale was playing in the state tournament for the first time in program history.
“I’m so proud of my teammates,” said Luikart, who is headed to Wright State. “I couldn’t be more thankful for the coaches and the community. It was an awesome experience.”