Leave little doubt.
The Sandusky American Legion Post 83 baseball team did just that Sunday, scoring two five-run innings and a 10-run fourth inning en route to a lopsided 24-3 win over Bucyrus in the 5th district championship game at Heidelberg University in Tiffin.
With the win, Sandusky (33-10) advances to the 12-team American Legion state tournament in Lancaster, which begins July 29. It is the third consecutive district title for Post 83, and the sixth trip to state in the previous seven seasons.
Sandusky won back-to-back state titles in 2008 and 2009, and finished third in 2011 and fifth last season.
“It's a great feeling to have accomplished the goal we had set out for at the beginning of the summer,” Sandusky coach Bobby Palsa said. “In our first meeting as a team it was something that we talked about. And Coach (Ray) Neill spent some time and talked to them about the history of the team and what our expectations and goals are.
“That one reason we all come together each summer is to win the district tournament and give ourselves a chance to represent ourselves and our area at state.”
Bucyrus was forced to play Strongsville earlier in the day just to advance to the championship finals, and was looking at a scenario where it needed to beat Sandusky twice. By the end of the third inning, Bucyrus was staring down a 9-0 deficit.
By the end of the fourth, it was 19-0.
In the 10-run fourth, Alex Manner (Bellevue) hit an RBI double and a sacrifice fly to drive in two runs, while Seth Bryant (Perkins) and Noah Asmus (Rossford) each hit a two-run double and Kyle Fluharty (Heidelberg/Willard) added an RBI single.
For the game, Manner finished 4 for 5 with five RBIs and three runs scored, while Fluharty, playing on his home field, finished 3 for 4 with two RBIs. Devin Dubbert (Perkins) was 2 for 5 with two RBIs and four runs, while Bryant was 2 for 3 and scored three times.
Quinten Harrington (Perkins) also added a pair of hits and scored four runs.
On the mound, Thane Walton (Perkins) pitched the first four shutout innings to earn the win. He allowed three hits, struck out four and walked two. Luke Fraley pitched the fifth inning and allowed one run on three hits with a strikeout and a walk.
Dalton Jarvis threw the final two innings, allowing two runs on three hits with two strikeouts and a walk.
“We've had tremendous pitching and defense all summer,” Palsa said. “In those games where we've been able to swing it and have the bats come alive, we are an unbeatable team at that point because of our pitching and defense.
“Today was a prime example of that. When we get out to a big lead early, we're going to be tough to beat when we do that. It was good to see the kids kind of peak for the exact right time. That was very exciting to watch and tremendous to be a part of today.”
The district draw is actually held before the summer season begins, as names are randomly drawn and placed on the bracket. Sandusky was fortunate to earn a first round bye, and then took advantage by not dropping a game en route to the title.
“We were fortunate to get the bye, which made it a three-game tournament if we took care of business,” Palsa said. “We were fortunate enough to avoid that loser's bracket and not go deep in our pitching. I'm real proud and happy for the team. I'm excited to finally be a part of a district championship as the coach this time. I get to take a little more pride in the whole thing and experience it from a different view with just a great group of kids.”