Jeff Brewer

CANTON: The clock struck midnight for Stow baseball.

After eliminating two of the state’s premier programs in Walsh Jesuit and Jackson in back-to-back games, the Bulldogs saw their remarkable tournament run end Friday with a five-inning, 10-0 loss to Solon in a Division I regional title game at Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium.

Stow (17-12) fell one win shy of its first state tournament appearance since 1996. Instead, the Comets (25-4) will make their first state semifinal appearance since 1991.

“We had a tough day today, but I’m really proud of our boys,” Stow coach Aaron DeBord said. “They did an incredible job battling. They have set a new standard for Stow baseball.

“The ball didn’t bounce our way today. Give them credit. They hit the heck out of the ball. They played great defense. And their pitcher made pitches when he needed to.”

The Bulldogs remained classy in defeat.

“This was amazing,” said Stow senior starting pitcher Jake Dohar. “Not many teams get the chance to play two of the best teams in the state, and one of the best teams in the nation, and beat both of them in close games. It’s a feeling that’s not going to go away just because of one loss.”

Trailing 2-0 through three innings, Stow had plenty of chances to score against Solon starter Jeremy Friedman (82 pitches in four-plus innings), but stranded 10 base runners.

The signature play of the game came in the top of the third with Stow mounting another threat. After senior catcher Owen Fankhauser lined a single to left with one out, senior first baseman Scott Swango walked.

Sophomore designated hitter Eric Schilling stepped in against Friedman and hit a frozen rope at shortstop Will Meyer, but at least 2 or 3 feet above his head.

A goalie recruited by former Akron Zips coach Ken Lolla to the University of Louisville on a soccer scholarship, Meyer timed his jump perfectly. The ball stuck in the webbing of his glove and looked like an ice cream cone as he fell on his backside. He then flipped it to second for a double play to end the inning.

“I jumped as high as I could, and I somehow caught it,” Meyer said. “I’m not sure if I could make that play again.”

“[Meyer] is blessed with fantastic range at shortstop,” Solon coach Damien Kopkas said. “When he made that play, I just smiled. You almost come to expect it with him.”

The sensational play deflated Stow.

“He just took it away,” Schilling said. “It stopped me in my tracks. I threw my batting gloves into the dugout. I was just really upset by it.”

For Stow, the wheels came off in the bottom of the fourth when a ball lost in the sun started a seven-run inning for Solon.

“I play center field and I know how hard it is to see the ball in the sun sometimes,” said Dohar, who took the loss (4-4). “I knew I showed up an inning late when I gave up those two runs in the first.”

The Comets proceeded to bang out seven hits and turned the bases into a merry-go-round. DeBord went to his bullpen, but neither Frankie Peck nor Collin Lang could stop the bleeding.

Lead-off hitter Anthony Charles scored three runs for Solon, including the clincher in the bottom of the fifth.

“Starting from so low [2-8 at one point] to where we ended up is something special,” said Fankhauser, the home-run hitting hero in Thursday’s 3-2 win over Jackson. “And this run we had, beating Walsh, taking down Jackson, undefeated 29-0, that’s something to take forward. You can tell your kids about it, share stories. It was a fun season. Today wasn’t so fun, but it is what it is. It’s baseball.”