House handles Eaton, leads Ross into sectional baseball finals

Shortly after Ross High School’s baseball team finished pushing across a run in the bottom of the first inning Thursday against Eaton, somebody asked Rams coach Jason Rettinger how many runs he thought his squad would need to beat the Eagles.

“That might be it right there,” Rettinger responded.

With Thomas House on the mound, Rettinger’s assessment was — at worst — an educated guess.

The Ross senior right-hander turned in a three-hit shutout, striking out 12 and allowing two Eagles to get as far as second base, in a 1-0 Division II sectional win at Ross.

“This is one of the biggest games I’ve ever pitched in,” House said after the game, interrupting a parade of huggers and cellphone-photo shooters. “Being a senior and this being our last home game and knowing that, if we lose, it’s our last game — it’s surreal. This is the best feeling, winning a game to go to the sectional final.”

Ross (21-4), the Dayton sectional’s top seed and the third-ranked team in the D-II state poll, is scheduled to play sixth-seeded Clinton-Massie in a sectional title game Thursday, May 18, at 5 p.m. at Monroe. The appearance is the Rams’ first in a sectional final since losing to Mason in a Division I game in 2013.

After Eaton right-hander Trevor Pittman launched a checked-swing blooper into short right field that Ross senior second baseman Brennan Morton just missed grabbing with a dive with two outs in the third inning, House retired 12 consecutive batters, going two outs deep into the seventh inning. He walked the Eagles’ seventh and eighth batters, and Eaton senior second baseman Lew Bowser was going to be the last batter he faced — either way. House struck him out swinging.

“He was tiring,” Rettinger said. “I was going to give him one more batter. (Eaton’s) guys at the top of the order had gotten a couple of good swings on him.”

Pittman almost matched House’s effort, allowing three hits and three walks with five strikeouts in five innings for ninth-seeded Eaton (16-7).

“It was a well-pitched game at both ends,” said Eagles coach Patrick Flanagan, whose team was coming off an 11-1 win over 18th-seeded Trotwood-Madison that gave Eaton eight wins in its last nine games after a midseason four-game losing streak. “Tom House was extremely good today. You knew it was going to be a one-run game either way. Trevor was outstanding. He’s been our guy all year. It’s crazy how it happened that first inning. You knew how it was going to go — scrape one across and let the pitcher take it home.”

The Rams wasted no time taking an early lead. Senior shortstop Tyler Flick walked to lead off the game. Senior third baseman Zach Evans followed with an infield single on a push bunt to Bowser. Both runners moved up on a double steal, setting up senior first baseman Drew Huffman’s one-out RBI ground out to Bowser.

Ross got just one runner past second base the rest of the way, forcing House to stay focused.

“Having just a one-run lead definitely stressed me out,” said House, who gave up one hit in each of the first three innings. “I had to stay focused. One little slip could’ve made a big difference.

“That’s usually how it goes for me. I struggle early, then the adrenaline kicks in and it’s lights out.”

Eaton 000-000-0—0-3-0

Ross 100-000-x—1-3-0

WP — Thomas House (7-0); LP — Trevor Pittman (1-1). Records: E 16-7, R 21-4

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