NEW MADISON – The Tri-Village Patriots played like a team on a mission on Wednesday in the opening round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament against Yellow Springs.
Tri-Village built an early lead and kept the pressure on throughout the game as the Patriots run ruled the Bulldogs 14-2 in five innings. Offensively, they scored in every inning and Derek Eyer hit his second home run of the year, this time on his home turf. Defensively they took care of the ball and maybe had one error.
“We are happy for Derek (Eyer). This was his second home run, and we give (Jared) Buckley a bit of a hard time because he is so much bigger and hasn’t hit one out yet,” Tri-Village baseball coach Jim Maples said. “It is amazing when you see how big Buckley is and how small Derek is. He was thrilled and the team was thrilled. Since they changed the bat rule about five years ago, you just don’t see the number of home runs that you used to; they are a rarity today.”
Importantly for the next game, Tri-Village was able to keep its pitchers rested. So the Patriots will be going to the next round with strong arms.
Christian Ricker started the game and pitched the first two innings. He figured in five of the first six outs of the game – three by strikeout, a runner mistimed his jump to try to steal second base and Ricker was able to tag him out in a rundown, and finally he fielded a slow roller and threw out the batter at first. So although his time on the mound was short, he made his presence felt.
“Christian, he didn’t throw strikes at the start,” Maples said. “He got three balls on the first two batters he faced. He is probably our hardest thrower, but sometimes his control is an issue. But he recovered and began to throw strikes. The nice thing is that all of our pitchers are available for Friday.”
The mound became a rotisserie as the coach kept the pitch counts low for each player by then rotating a new pitcher each inning so that they could all be used on Friday. Dylan Finkbine and Gage Hileman each pitched an inning apiece. Then to close out the game in the fifth Trey Frech came in relief and struck out all three batters that he faced to end the game.
Hitting-wise, Tri-Village made contact and the team was aggressive on the base paths, stealing pretty much at will against the Yellow Springs catcher. Besides Eyer’s home run, Buckley hit a solid triple in the first inning to prime the scoring with two RBIs. Buckley also got a single as did Ricker, Eyer, Camren Munchel, Hileman and Jackson Plush.
“I am glad that we took care of business and got this done in five innings,” Maples said. “The plan was to limit each pitcher to no more than two innings. So that part went fine – the pitchers threw strikes. The defense was pretty good. We hit some hard shots and ran the bases aggressively. We have practice tomorrow so we can get ready on Friday to go against the winner of the Trail-Brookville game.”