Mason shuts down Troy in district final

CENTERVILLE — Everything Troy senior shortstop Ryder Kirtley experienced on the baseball field Thursday gave him feelings of respect.

His team most of all from a season full of exceeding expectations. But Mason senior Jake Hanley? He demanded respect.

Hanley, a 6-foot-6 Indiana-bound right-hander, threw a one-hitter and struck out nine. As a left-handed hitter, he hit two solo homers on successive pitches two innings apart. His achievements added up to a 5-0 Troy defeat in a Division I district final at Centerville High School.

“He’s a competitor, and I just feel like he has that demeanor he wants to go up there every time and get everybody out,” said Kirtley, who will next play at Virginia Tech. “I respect that. He’s a good kid, and he just has that dog in him.”

Troy pitcher Caleb Akins, a senior bound for Division III Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, saw first-hand why Hanley was originally recruited by Indiana as a hitter.

“That first one I hung my changeup,” Akins said. “The second one I’m surprised. I knew he was good, but curveball low and outside? He just went across and got it. There’s not much more to it. He just beat me.”

The Comets scored twice in the first, twice in the third and once in the sixth to end Troy’s season in a district final for the second straight year. And while this year’s Troy team equaled last year’s 22-8 record, the Trojans didn’t enter the season with the look of a team that could make it back. They graduated 16 seniors and started freshmen at catcher and third base.

“It’s a good feeling just to even make it this far,” Kirtley said. “With the doubt that we had throughout the season, adversity we went through, coming off the Kentucky trip having two losses, coming back and then winning the MVL, putting together some good wins and just having quality wins throughout the season and to come here, it’s a good feeling, win or lose, just making it this far.”

That didn’t make it any easier to take the loss. Hanley’s mastery yielded only a single to Matthew Hempker in the second inning. Kirtley, who was hitting .500 and had a .623 on-base percentage coming into the game, was 0-for-2 with a walk.

“I think we’re a good offensive team, and obviously he’s a pretty good pitcher, so we were probably a little outmatched,” Troy coach Ty Welker said. “But I didn’t feel like we gave up. I feel like our guys battled the whole game. They kept their heads up and didn’t get down on themselves. And I’d go right back at it with those same guys and battle again tomorrow.”

Welker said the only believers in his team from the start of the season where the players and the coaches. Kirtley credited the team culture for the successful season.

“The seniors really stepped up taking leadership roles, making sure everybody’s on the same page throughout the season,” Kirtley said. “Just making sure we’re, as a whole, playing the small ball. Last year we could probably get away with just everybody doing their own little thing, but this year we had to hone in on the team and make sure that we get the Ws when we needed to.”

In other Division I district finals:

Vandalia Butler 1, Cincinnati Loveland 0: Mason Recker pitched a complete game and batted in the Aviators (24-6) only run to secure a spot in next Thursday’s regional semifinals in Oxford against eight-time state champion Cincinnati Moeller. Butler defeated Moeller 1-0 in eight innings on May 11.

Hjunter Richardson walked, Kobe Dues singled and Recker singled in Richardson to start the game. And that’s all Recker needed. He scattered six hits and two walks and made it through without a strikeout.

Cincinnati Elder 13, Centerville 2: Elder jumped to a 6-0 lead in the sixth inning, and ended the game with a four-run sixth. The Panthers will face Mason in the other region semifinal Thursday in Oxford.

Elder collected 13 hits, including two doubles, and four walks. Centerville (16-13) scored in the third inning on Jackson Clark’s two-run single.

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