DAYTON – Versailles was slow out the gate – stranding runners in its first two innings – but the Tigers finally dented the plate and got the first lead of the night. The fourth inning was a breakout inning for them and they built a good lead.
But Division II Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy was not finished for the night. The Eagles turned around and made a run of their own. However, Versailles pitcher Noah Richard recovered from his bad inning and held the Eagles scoreless in the last two stanzas to preserve a 10-4 victory.
The two teams have met in the Ohio High School Athletic Association playoffs before but will not this postseason as the Eagles have moved up and are now Division II.
The location for Friday’s game was Wright State University – about midway between the two teams. The change of venue was a nice change of settings for the teams. The Eagles have been a playoff team in the past, so it was also a chance to gauge where the team is at with the postseason due to start in May.
The Tigers hit the ball well in the first couple of innings but could not get any runners across the plate. They left runners in scoring position in each inning. The coaching staff had to be wondering if they were ever going to score.
The Wright State field has dimensions about the same as a major league field and has solid fences that look to be about 10 feet high. With the extra room, the Tigers were able to hit with power. They had a lot of extra base hits: two doubles, three triples and a home run. Amazingly, Kurtis Rutschilling had two triples on the night and Keaton McEldowney had one.
In the third inning the Tigers pounced on Eagle pitching and started to score. Thanks to a triple, Versailles scored three runs in the inning.
But the fourth inning was a breakout inning. Noah Grisez hit a grand slam home run that would have been legit in just about any major league ball park. It easily cleared the outfield wall at the 377-foot mark. Now the Tigers were up 9-1, and the Eagles were going into their bullpen for some relief pitchers.
“Noah (Grisez) had some problems early in the year, but we worked on his stance and his grip and he has really turned it around,” Versailles baseball coach Ryan Schlater said. “We tweaked his approach as to the pitches he was seeing and now he is hitting the heck out of the ball. He hit one Tuesday that was off the wall and tonight’s hit would have been a home run in most big league parks.”
Now the Tiger faithful were hoping to run rule the Eagles and go home early. But thanks to a walk and then an error, the Eagles suddenly were back in business in their half of the fifth inning. They made three runs due in part to these mistakes to make it a 10-4 game.
After that lapse in the fifth, Richard took control of the game from the mound in the last two innings – recording four strikeouts. The Tiger defense stepped up as well and played error free ball and got the other two outs from routine ground balls to quietly end the game.
“Richard had a great outing,” Schlater said. “He kept his composure very well. This season he has had a problem with throwing too many pitches too early in the game. Tonight he was efficient and had a great game. He probably had 100 pitches over six innings, which is pretty good. He was in a zone.
“It was a great game. Last night we had a terrible game against St. Henry. We made a lot of mental mistakes and physical errors. But tonight as bad as we played yesterday – we played the opposite tonight. It was a great, well-played game.”
Versailles will pick things up again with a game against Fort Loramie and then league rival Coldwater.
Hitting: McEldowney 2B, 3B; Rutschilling 2-3B,1B; DeMange 1B; Griesdorn 1B; Bruns 1B; Pothast 1B; Grisez HR 1B.