The exciting, improbable run is over for Archbishop Hoban.

The Knights conquered five playoff opponents in a row despite minimal expectations, sometimes in thrilling fashion. But thanks to defending state champion Poland Seminary, there will be no happy ending to Hoban’s season.

Poland jumped on Hoban (15-16) with two first-inning runs, then rode the strong right arm of senior pitcher Erin Gabriel to a 7-0 victory in the Division II regional softball final at Firestone Stadium in Akron on Saturday.

“That girl [Gabriel] is going to Tennessee on a scholarship,” Hoban coach Bob Mosher said. “That’s a pretty good hitting team. That’s probably the best hitting team we have faced all year. I thought we made good pitches and there wasn’t a whole lot we could do about it.”

Gabriel didn’t need much run support, as it turned out. Hoban managed only one hit, a third-inning bunt single by sophomore Maddie Diestel. Gabriel, the two-time Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year, struck out nine, walked one and hit a batter. The walk and the hit batter reached base in the fifth, but one was picked off first.

Gabriel also allowed one hit in a 3-2 victory over Woodridge in Thursday’s semifinal.

“We couldn’t touch her rise, couldn’t lay off of it,” Mosher said. “Couldn’t hit the ball down. And the ball didn’t bounce our way in certain instances.”

It especially didn’t with Poland batting in the fourth inning. A single, an error and a sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third with two out. Meredith Testa reached on an infield hit, a call at first that Mosher questioned, to score one run.

Jenna Modic then ripped a liner down the right-field line for an RBI double to make it 4-0. Some Hoban players and many spectators howled at the call, thinking that the ball landed foul.

“The umpires didn’t cost us the game,” Mosher said. “We didn’t hit the ball. That’s the bottom line. The umpires did as good a job as can be expected. If you don’t hit, you don’t score, and if you can’t score, then you’re done.”

Trailing by four runs, trying to score off Gabriel became even more difficult, as Hoban senior first baseman Kaleigh Roop discovered.

“It was all high and inside, it was difficult to get around on,” Roop said. “But I kept telling our players to keep adjusting and just take your hands to the ball. If you have to chop down at it, go for it. But not everybody got to the ball quick enough.”

The Bulldogs added three runs on five hits in the seventh for the final seven-run margin. They had 13 hits off Hoban sophomore pitcher Kate Boylan.

Poland (27-2), ranked No. 2, will now face No. 1 Keystone in a state semifinal Friday at Firestone Stadium. Poland defeated Keystone 4-0 in last year’s championship game.

“Since it’s Keystone, it’s a little more motivation,” Gabriel said. “We have a little history with each other and it should be a great game.”

For Hoban, which won nine of its last 11 games before Saturday, the disappointment couldn’t erase the good feelings the past couple of weeks created.

“Nobody expected us to be here,” said Mosher, wrapping up his first year at Hoban. “This was icing on the cake. We are very proud of these girls, the way they responded down the stretch.

“For our girls to come out and win five games like they did, I’m real happy with this. This is a real plus for the program. We’ve got a lot that we can grow on. We only graduate three seniors. We gained a lot of valuable experience here in this tournament.”

Read the high school blog at www.ohio.com/preps.