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Waynedale outlasts Liberty Union 4-3 in OHSAA baseball Division 3 state semifinals

Otto Solorzano gets final three outs, as Waynedale defeats Jacob Miller and Liberty in state semifinals.
Waynedale baseball Trey Barkman Ryan Isley

AKRON, Ohio – Waynedale pitcher Otto Solorzano let out a scream and jumped into the arms of catcher Josiah Raber. 

The left-handed pitcher had just struck out Liberty Union’s John Edwards with two on to finish off a 4-3 win in the OHSAA Division III state semifinals.

The sophomore had entered the game in the bottom of the seventh inning in relief of starter Trey Barkman with two runners on and nobody out and Waynedale leading 4-3. 

But Solorzano got out of the jam to send the Golden Bears to Saturday’s state championship game.

“He is special,” Barkman said of Solorzano. “The way he comes in and no emotion, just goes right after it, he’s a stud.”

Barkman pitched well himself, allowing just three runs (one earned) on two hits and two walks while striking out seven.

“He’s a competitor,” Waynedale coach Lucas Daugherty said. “As you can see, he does not shy away from big moments and big games.”

Barkman knew he had to be sharp in this game, as on the mound for Liberty Union was the imposing Jacob Miller, a University of Louisville commit and MLB Draft prospect.

“I’m not going to lie,” Barkman said. “Me and my teammates were watching videos of (Miller) on Instagram and Twitter like ‘man, this guy’s legit.’ There is a reason his name is known around here.”

But Waynedale made Miller work and eventually got to the senior hurler. After shutting down the Golden Bears through three innings, Waynedale got two runs off Miller in the fourth as Timmy Short hit an RBI triple to score Jay Mast and then scored himself on a wild pitch.

Barkman then pulled a rabbit out of his hat to keep the lead in the bottom of the inning.

Liberty Union had one run already in and the bases loaded with just one out, but Barkman fought though it to keep it 2-1. He forced Brayden Schrayer to pop up to first baseman Braden Hershberger and then struck out Trevor Wood to end the inning.

“I am just trusting my teammates,” Barkman said. “I just jammed him and made him pop up and my teammates got the job done for me.”

Waynedale came back and tacked on two insurance runs in the top of the fifth inning as Barkman scored on an error with the bases loaded and then Connor Gatti drew a bases loaded walk to score Raber.

“We had almost a full week to prepare for him, and that’s what you need,” Daugherty said of facing Miller. “He is an incredible talent. I think the key was once we had a couple hits off him, we got a little confidence, and after that it was just making him work longer at-bats.”

Miller pitched 5.1 innings and gave up four runs (two earned) on four hits and five walks. He struck out 10 hitters.

In the bottom of the fifth, Liberty Union again had something stirring with runners on the corners and nobody out. 

But Cayden Carroll hit a line drive up the middle that deflected off Barkman’s glove right to second baseman Dylan Raber, who threw to shortstop Ean Miller at second. Miller then fired to first to complete the double play. The play scored a run, but that was all for Liberty Union in the inning.

“Dylan made a great play on that,” Barkman said. “And we turned two and we got out of it.”

And then came the final inning. Liberty Union got the first two runners on, and Daugherty decided to take the ball from Barkman and give it to Solorzano.

“I know after you see the same guy, even if he is good like Trey, you see him enough you start to get on him,” Daugherty said. “Fortunately, we have Otto, who is a lefty with a little different movement, so I just trusted my gut.”

And the sophomore lefty made sure Daugherty's gut was right.