SPRINGFIELD — It was no surprise to Bradford first-year baseball coach Bill Sturwold that he was at Carleton Davidson Stadium Thursday for a Division IV regional semifinal with Southeastern.
Despite the fact that he was taking over a program that had advanced that far in the postseason just once.
And while it didn’t go as he and the Railroaders had hoped — with the season ending with a 6-0 loss to the Trojans to finish 21-11, Sturwold said it was just the beginning.
“I had the guys throw and hit a little back in the fall,” Sturwold said. “At the time, I told the parents if they were making vacation plans, I thought we might be playing baseball in early June.”
Bradford had a magical run, including knocking off the sixth-ranked team in D-IV in Fort Loramie in a district semifinal.
“I am just so proud of the kids,” Sturwold said. “It was a record season for Bradford We had 21 wins.”
Sturwold elected to start southpaw Landon Wills, before bringing Tucker Miller in three batters into the game.
“I realized Russia (a possible regional final opponent) had a really good team,” Sturwold said. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But, in the end, the pitching decision didn’t make any difference. We have brought Tucker (Miller) in like that in relief before.”
Miller nearly escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the first.
But, Southeastern (15-9) got a two-out, two run single from Kason Spears.
“That was a huge hit by him (Kason Spears),” Sturwold said. “That was huge to give them momentum.”
Southeastern got two more in the second when Aiden Harbage was hit by a pitch and scored on a wild pitch and Kyle Adkins would walk and score on Austin Miller’s infield single.
The Trojans would score a run in the fifth inning on a balk and a run n the sixth on Jacob Aldersson’s RBI single.
“Southeastern got some big hits when they needed them,” Sturwold said. “Obviously, Tucker wasn’t quite as sharp as he was against Fort Loramie, but Southeastern had some great at bats.
“I wish we wouldn’t have given up those two add on runs. I would have felt better about 4-0 where one swing of the bat could change it.”
But, Bradford managed just five baserunners in the game.
Miller was hit by a pitch in the fourth, but thrown out stealing.
Hudson Hill and Gage Shaffer reached on singles in the fifth and sixth innings and Wills reached on an error and Garrett Trevino walked in the seventh.
Zach McKee ran his record to 8-1 with a two-hitter, with nine strikeouts, one walk and one hit batter.
“That kid really threw well and kept us off-balance,” Sturwold said. “Owen Canan and Garrett Trevino both hits ball hard to the outfield and they made the plays. Other than one ball in the seventh, they made every play.”
Bradford loses two starters and four seniors off this year’s team.
“We are still working on developing our pitching,” Sturwold said. “We will be back.”
Which will be no surprise.
You can reach Sports Editor Rob Kiser at [email protected]