Teams combine for 29 hits in 14-8 win for Lucasville Valley –
By Mark Carpenter –
Coming into last Saturday’s Division III sectional championship game at West Union High School, all signs pointed to an offensive battle as the Dragons hosted the Lucasville Valley Indians.
Both squads had been prolific at the plate all season and both teams were hot coming in, the Indians winning 12 of their last 15 and the Dragons 8 of their last 10, so something had to give.
Unfortunately for the home team that something turned out to be their 2018 season as the Indians brought some big bats to town and knocked around a pair of West Union pitchers to the tune of 14 runs and 17 hits on their way to taking the sectional crown with a 14-8 victory.
Not that the Dragons wer any slouches at the plate as they banged out 12 hits, but could not make their way back out after falling into an early 11-2 hole.
“We had high expectations for moving on but that’s baseball for you,” said West Union head coach Joe Kramer. “Valley is a very hot team right now and I still felt very good about our chances to win and I still feel that way. Even on Saturday, our kids did not feel like they had lost, just that they had run out of innings to play. It was an offensive show-every single starter for both teams reached base at least once.”
Junior right hander Brandan Cornell had been the ace of the Dragons’ pitching staff all spring but just didn’t have his best stuff on Saturday against the hot bats of the Indians. Cornell only lasted 3 1/3 innings and was battered around for 13 runs and 13 hits. Alex Hirsch tossed 3 2/3 frames of relief and only gave up one run on four hits.
The Dragons had their only lead of the game in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Michael Carson, but that was short-lived as Valley struck for six runs in the top of the second and five more in the top of the third, including a three-run homer by clean-up hitter Jesse Jones.
Staring at a nine-run deficit, the Dragons rallied with three in their half of the third, getting run-scoring hits from Hirsch and Brandon Blevins, and then three more in the bottom of the sixth on RBI doubles by Jared Fenton and Brycen Staten plus a run-producing single from Carson, but as Coach Kramer said, they just ran out of innings.
“Our players really enjoyed this wonderful season and had lots of fun along the way,” said Kramer. “It is always the journey and not the final destination.”
“We will really miss our three seniors. Jared Fenton and Michael Carson have been playing baseball for WUHS for four years and it will really be sad to start practice next year and not see their bright, smiling faces. Elijah McCarty gave us a pleasant surprise when he decided to try out this spring. Even though his skills were a bit rusty since he hadn’t played since ninth grade, he was a valuable contributor to our team.”
The Dragons finished 2018 with a record of 12-5 and were champions of the big school division of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference with an 11-2 conference mark.