COVINGTON – A two-out rally in the fourth inning plated four runs for Tri-Village and propelled the Patriots to a 5-2 sectional championship victory against Franklin Monroe.
Franklin Monroe had beat Tri-Village 9-2 in a Cross County Conference baseball game in April, but on Wednesday the Patriots shut down the Jets to advance in the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament.
“This is a total team effort,” Tri-Village coach Jim Maples said. “You don’t get it done without the pitching. You’ve got to have good pitching. But the guys behind you have to make some plays, too.
“(Jonny Wilson is) just throwing the ball very, very well. To get this far, to win a sectional, your defense has got to help you out as well too. The play Jorden Midlam made out in right field I thought was huge.”
Tri-Village got excellent pitching from Wilson, who went the complete game and allowed just two runs, which both resulted from Patriot errors. Wilson gave up six hits and four walks while striking out five.
“I give them credit,” Franklin Monroe coach Eddie Meyers said. “They’re a very good ball club, well coached. Jonny Wilson threw a hell of a game for them. We just couldn’t come out and make the plays.”
Franklin Monroe also got strong starting pitching from Zach Hyre, who gave up just one earned run on six hits, three walks and four strikeouts in four innings on the mound. However, he gave up four unearned runs as a result of two errors.
“Zach came out and threw a hell of a game for us,” Meyers said. “We just couldn’t get it done for him.”
Neither team could get anything done offensively early in the game as they both stranded multiple runners in the first two innings. But in the third inning the offenses started to pick up.
Cade McGlinch led off the top of the third with a single for Franklin Monroe but was thrown out stealing by Jordan Buckley.
The out didn’t deter the Jets, though, as Jeremy Bridenbaugh doubled and Hyre was intentionally walked to put two runners on with just one out. Landon Peters then drove a single in the outfield, which was bobbled and allowed Bridenbaugh to score the game’s first run.
The Patriots got out of the jam and stranded two runners in scoring position with a groundout and a pop up to end the inning.
Franklin Monroe didn’t hold the lead for long as Jordan Buckley walked, stole second and scored on a RBI single by Wilson to tie the game at 1-1 in the bottom half of the inning.
In the fourth Tri-Village took its first lead of the game thanks to four two-run outs.
Christian Ricker reached base on an error to get the Patriots going. After he stole second and advanced to third on a balk, Jorden Midlam drew a two-out walk to put runners on the corners.
Nine-hole hitter Jared Buckley put Tri-Village ahead with an infield single, making it a 2-1 game as the Jets got a diving stop but couldn’t get an out.
Jordan Buckley then reached base on Franklin Monroe’s second error of the inning, which loaded the bases. After that Trey Frech drove in two runs with a single and Wilson drove in one with a single, putting the Patriots up 5-1.
“How about the two-out clutch hitting in that inning? And that’s what’s really hurt us of late is we’re not making good contact on balls when we’ve got people in scoring position. That whole inning I think started with the bottom of our lineup in there as well,” Coach Maples said.
After falling behind by four, Franklin Monroe kept the game within reach with two perfect innings by relief pitcher Noah Koffer.
Down to their final at-bat in the seventh inning the Jets got a leadoff walk by Logan Ressler and then McGlinch reached on an error, putting two runners in scoring position with no outs. Franklin Monroe got one run in with a sacrifice grounder by Bridenbaugh, cutting their deficit to 5-2.
Hyre then drilled a pitch into deep center field, but Jared Buckley was able to track it down for the second out of the inning.
“Zach is a great player,” Coach Maples said. “He crushed the ball, but I like having our middle linebacker, running back out there in center field to go get some balls, too. He’s done a great job all year out there.”
Tri-Village then ended the threat with a groundout to secure the 5-2 sectional championship victory and end Franklin Monroe’s season.
“We just didn’t come out and play our game,” Meyers said. “We didn’t come out and hit like we were supposed to. We usually come out and have good situational hitting. Just couldn’t put the ball in play today.”
Tri-Village and Franklin Monroe both had six hits on offense and two errors on defense. The Jets left eight base runners stranded while the Patriots stranded five.
Wilson led the Tri-Village offense with two singles, a double and a RBI. Jordan Buckley singled, walked and scored two runs. Jared Buckley singled and scored a run. Midlam walked and scored a run. Frech singled, and Ricker scored a run.
Bridenbaugh had a double and scored a run for Franklin Monroe. Ressler walked twice and scored a run. Hyre had a single and walked. Jared Bundenthal, Trevor Collins, McGlinch and Peters also had hits.
For Franklin Monroe Wednesday’s loss marked the end of the season and the end of the high school baseball careers of its three seniors – Bundenthal, Hyre and Peters. The Jets overcame a lot during the past year, including the death of teammate Hudson Nestor in a December car crash.
“I give those kids all the credit in the world,” Meyers said. “Big hearts. And for what this team has battled through this year after losing Mr. Nestor, we’ve gone through a lot.”
For Tri-Village the season goes on. The Patriots will play Lehman Catholic at 5 p.m. Friday in a district championship game at Newton.
“You have to have an all-around game to keep playing now,” Coach Maples said. “You have a bad game now you go home.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.