Run rule win over Fayetteville clinches big school for the Dragons –
By Mark Carpenter –
It took 29 seasons, but the West Union Dragons can now again claim a spot at the top of the standings of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference. The Dragons clinched outright the big school championship of the SHAC with a dominating 15-4 run rule victory on Wednesday, May 1 that improved their conference record to 11-2 for the spring, and allowed Coach Joe Kramer and his troops to celebrate another title for West Union athletes, following up on a golf title in the SHAC, a football title in the independent SOIL, and a SHAC title in boys basketball.
Needing just one more “W” to sew up the SHAC, the Dragons wasted no time in taking care of business against the visiting Rockets, scoring 12 runs in their first two at-bats, raining down base hits, and then riding the left arm of senior hurler Jared Fenton, who allowed just three hits in five innings as West Union run-ruled their conference guests.
“This is a special group of guys,” said Coach Kramer after the win. “They worked hard and you just hope that they come together and even after all our early practices, I couldn’t tell how good we might be because we hadn’t played anybody. We only get one scrimmage in and it’s just rain, rain, rain, and we don’t get much of a chance to test ourselves. It’s been a fun season, we’ve swung the bats well, got solid pitching and solid defense-when we do all three of those things we can be pretty good.”
After Fenton blanked the Rockets in the top of the first, the potent West Union offense went right to work off of Fayetteville starter Zak Smyth, scoring six times after two men were out. A Michael Carson single drove home the first run, and a Dylan Grooms base hit drove in the second. Brycen Staten was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a run and a line drive hit to center off the bat of Clayton Madden brought home two more to make it 5-0. The final run of the inning came on an Alex Hirsch base hit and the Dragons were sitting pretty.
The Rockets answered with two runs off Fenton in the top of the second, but that only set the stage for another offensive explosion by the home team in the bottom half. Carson drove home another with his second hit in as many innings and after a wild pitch allowed another run home, Brandon Blevins drove home Carson with a base hit. Staten then brought two more across with a blast to center field that one-hopped over the fence for a ground rule double. A sacrifice fly to center drove Staten home to make to make it 12-2 Dragons.
West Union picked up one more in the bottom of the third when Carson scampered home on a wild pitch and then two more in the bottom of the fourth, again with two outs, when Ryan Rothwell and Brandan Cornell both scored on wild pitches from Fayetteville reliever Jeff Lawson. Now up 15-2 and just three outs away from enforcing the run rule and claiming the SHAC title, Fenton allowed two runs in the top half of the fifth, but got the final two hitters on a pop out to first baseman Elijah McCarty and a ground out to Carson at second base, closing out the 15-4 victory, and earning Coach Kramer the obligatory dousing from the water cooler.
“I think our kids woke up a bit ago and realized they were in first place and though that was pretty nice,” said Kramer. “Our expectations were just to go out and have fun and try to win every game. In baseball, you have to learn to accept failure as well as success, and young people sometimes don’t realize that they have to have a short memory.”
In just four at-bats, the Dragons banged out 14 hits, three of those from Rothwell, who is leading the team with a .455 batting average. West Union also got two hits each from Hirsch, Cornell, and Carson, while Staten and Madden each produced three runs batted in.
Fenton went all five innings for the win, improving his record to 3-1 on the season with a 1.58 earned run average. The big left hander struck out five and allowed just two earned runs. It was a rough outing for Fayetteville’s Smyth, who took the loss after allowing 11 runs in just 1 1/3 innings on the mound.
The win improved the overall mark for the Dragons to 11-4 and they will not be in action again until Wednesday, May 9 when they open postseason play, hosting a Division III sectional semi-final against the Northwest Mohawks. A win there will earn West Union another home game, this time for a sectional championship, hosting the winner of Lucasville Valley and Eastern Brown, with a trip to the district tourney in Chillicothe on the line.
“Now we are starting over and it’s a one-and-done situation,” says Kramer. “We have to play with that intensity knowing that if they lose, they are done.”
020 02 —4
661 2x —15
Fayetteville Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Deisch 2-0-0-0, Davis 2-0-1-2, Busam 0-1-0-0, Smyth 2-1-1-1, Wiederhold 2-0-0-0, Connor 0-0-0-0, Fehring 3-0-0-0, Doane 3-0-0-0, Cole 1-1-0-0, Meeker 1-0-1-0, Jarrett Lawson 1-1-0-0, Team 20-4-3-3.
W. Union Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Hirsch 3-1-2-1, Rothwell 4-2-3-0, Cornell 4-2-2-0, Fenton 3-1-1-0, Carson 2-3-2-2, Blevins 2-2-1-1, Grooms 2-2-1-1, Staten 3-2-1-3, Madden 2-0-1-3, Team 25-15-14-11.
Extra-Base Hits: Staten 2B
Smyth (L) 1.1 IP, 9 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 50 pitches
Jeff Lawson 2.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 63 pitches
Cole 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 5 pitches
W. Union Pitching:
Fenton (W) 5 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 5 K, 104 pitches