High School baseball: Elks leaning on defense during tough stretch

Of Dane Robinson's first eight hits, six went for extra bases for the Elks. Robinson has two doubles, three triples and a grand slam. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED
Of Dane Robinson's first eight hits, six went for extra bases for the Elks. Robinson has two doubles, three triples and a grand slam. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED

CENTERVILLE – With high-scoring outbursts in wins against Troy (19-4) and LaSalle (11-1) the Centerville Elks’ baseball team has shown some pop. For the Elks to challenge for the Greater Western Ohio Conference title – and beyond – they’ll rely more on defense than doubles.

Centerville (4-1) opens GWOC play at Springfield (3-1) on Wednesday. The Elks then host the Wildcats on Friday. The start of conference play caps a challenging stretch of non-league games for the Elks.

On Monday, Centerville’s Tad Ferrell scored the winning run to beat Cincinnati St. Xavier 3-2 in eight innings. Starter Max Whitesell and reliever Hunter Chillinsky both threw four solid innings.

Last Saturday, Centerville’s Dane Robinson knocked in four runs and Chillinsky three to pace the Elks’ 11-1 win against LaSalle. Colin Becker tossed a five-inning complete game.

Last Friday, Centerville scored four runs in the top of the seventh to beat Hilliard Darby 5-3. Ferrell, Chillinsky (win) and Whitesell (save) combined to allow eight hits and strike out nine. Offensively, Robinson tripled twice.

And in that Troy win on March 31, Robinson was at it again going 4-for-5 with six RBI. Four came on a grand slam to pace Will Wuich, who allowed four hits and struck out 10 in four innings.

“I think we’re a team trying to play ‘Best Game Last,’” Whited said. “We’ve struggled early, but defensively we’ve been really solid and pitching we’ve had some good moments. Offensively (against Troy) is really the first time we’ve done anything.”

Robinson leads the Elks with a .533 average (among players with 10 at-bats or more). He also leads the GWOC with 11 RBI.

Brady Knight is hitting .400 and is followed by Chillinsky (.385), Whitesell (.375) and Zach Pfarrer (.357).

Colin Becker, Kyle Mahon, Wuich, Whitesell, Ferrell and Chillinsky have shared quality mound time.

Like most teams coming off the canceled 2020 season, varsity experience is limited. But the Elks to have a program-record 14 seniors on the roster.

“You have a lot of mature guys that are still getting varsity experience, but they’re 17- and 18-year-old young men,” Whited said. “You don’t have a bunch of kids running around who are trying to figure things out. Some teams are dealing with that and it’s a positive in some ways. We’re very pleased with our senior maturity. And we have some juniors at a high level. You saw some of the future (against Troy) with sophomores who can play.”

Centerville, which hosted Cleveland St. Ignatius on Tuesday, is also scheduled to play Dublin Coffman on Saturday.

“We’ve talked with our guys it’s not about who we’re playing it’s what we’re doing,” Whited said.

Beavercreek: The Beavers started 6-0, including a 4-0 trip to Florida against out-of-state competition. Sean McCray is hitting .600, Mitchell Roether leads the GWOC with four doubles and Kenny Blackmore has a GWOC-high seven stolen bases. Charlie Schafer and Blake Werry are both 2-0 on the mound.

Butler: The Aviators (7-0) have smacked a Miami Valley League-high 13 doubles in six games, tying them with the Sidney Yellow Jackets who have 13 in seven games. Kaden Echeman leads Butler with 12 hits. Six of those are doubles.

Milton-Union: Devin Lambert is off to a fast start on the basepaths with 12 stolen bases in five games, leading to nine runs. Both lead the Southwestern Buckeye League.

Northmont: Ben Zink (2-0) has been overpowering on the mound for the Thunderbolts with 26 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched with a 0.583 ERA.

Sidney: The Yellow Jackets (7-0) have spread out the wins on the mound with five different players getting at least one. Ryan Caulfield and Gavin Roberts lead the way at 2-0 with 13 strikeouts each.

Troy Christian: Ethan Twiss is harassing opposing pitchers with 11 hits in his first 14 at-bats (.786 average) to lead the Metro Buckeye Conference.

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