Nick Church’s big day leads Bristol to district final | News, Sports, Jobs

Staff Photo / Brian Yauger Bristol’s Nick Church prepares to throw a pitch Tuesday against St. John. He finished with 11 K and allowed only 2 hits.

FAIRPORT HARBOR — It wasn’t pretty, but tournament wins don’t have to be.

Bristol Baseball is on its way to its second district title game, after beating Ashtabula St. John, 4-3, in a Division IV Fairport Harbor District semifinal on Tuesday.

St. John hit first, scoring a passed ball, but Bristol fought back late in the second, scoring three runs.

“The first set, we put the ball in play, we didn’t score any runs there, but I just told them, ‘Keep putting the ball in play,’ and we put the ball in play in the second or third inning and that led to the runs,” Panthers coach Jeff Thompson said. “It’s a game that three weeks ago, I don’t know if we would have won because we didn’t. We just didn’t have that mental focus.

“Even though it wasn’t pretty at times, we always stayed focused on what we were supposed to do.”

One of the biggest catalysts for the team this season has been Nick Church, who started on the mound, not only was a star on the pitch, but also played a crucial role in the dugout.

He scored the team’s final run of the afternoon, flying home after a field error.

“Nick Church comes out and throws 124 pitches, he can read people, steal a base, score a run, he’s just a great baseball player,” Thompson said.

With two out and two runners in the top of the seventh, Church reached his pitch count and had to be put out.

In the footsteps of Hadyn Mahan.

Mahan, with a lot of pressure on him, retired St. John’s last batter to freeze the game

“He came in and finished it,” Thompson said. “It was a pressure situation for him and he handled it really well. We made a mistake on the field and then he came back and got those guys hitting and struck out the last batter. is just cool and calm under pressure. Gotta give him a lot of credit.”

Widely regarded as a school of basketball, Thompson is doing its part to change this perception of Bristol as a school for athletes.

For reference, 11 of the 15 players, as well as Thompson, who is an assistant coach, are on the program.

“I always talk about how Bristol is a school of athletes,” he said. “I don’t care what sport it is. Basketball, baseball, football, whatever sport you play, be an athlete. Our goal is to be as successful in baseball as we are in basketball. I think 11 of the 15 have played basketball, so we know what it takes. They know what it takes to win. … For the last four or five years, we’ve actually had some success in baseball here. We just want to continue. »

The church and the upper class fueled this growth. As a freshman, the Panthers reached the district finals only to fall to Mathews.

Like their softball counterparts, Bristol end their careers with final district appearances. They hope to match them this season by lifting a district championship trophy as well.

The Panthers (13-13) advance to Thursday’s district final at Fairport Harbor where they will face Jackson-Milton. The first pitch is set for 5 p.m. The winner will move on to regional at Gates Mills.

byauger@tribtoday.com

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