Wayne had just four midseason baseball wins and was 0-7 in Greater Western Ohio Conference National East games. That wasn’t what Joe Yount had in mind when he switched from coaching Wayne softball to baseball seven seasons ago.
“We’re still not where we want to be,” said Yount, a 1981 Wayne graduate who inherited a program that had won just three games the prior season.
“We have found out a lot of things on the baseball side of Wayne have changed, just because of the demographics. Football, basketball and track are major sports at Wayne. We’re starting to see that progress.”
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Wayne put the Division I high school baseball sectional on alert with a 6-3 upset of seventh-seeded and host Xenia on Tuesday. That vaults Wayne (10-13) into the second round at No. 5 seed Troy (18-6) on Thursday.
Xenia and Wayne split in the regular season, both winning by one run in extra innings. Tied at 3-all, Wayne junior Garrett Valentine prevented that from happening again by blasting the first pitch to him in the top of the seventh inning with the bases loaded.
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Valentine’s three-run shot short-hopped the left-field fence and he pulled into second base with a go-ahead fist pump. Wayne junior pitcher Kaleb Stines lasted six innings and yet another junior, Caleb Mervar, closed out Xenia in the bottom of the seventh.
Wayne began its early swoon with a season-opening 13-0 loss at Troy, but since midseason the Warriors have been a tough out. Wayne’s last winning season was in 2008 (13-11).
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“This is definitely the kind of stuff we’re looking for,” Yount said. “We knew we were going to have a tough season start because we had almost a whole new team. We had to take our lumps and learn how to fight back.”
It was a stinging setback for Xenia (20-8). The Buccaneers of coach Barry Claus – a 1984 Xenia grad – finished on a 2-5 slide and were swept by GWOC American South champ Fairborn after being in divisional contention throughout the season.
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• Northmont won its fourth straight game by surprising host Fairborn 2-0 in another D-I sectional opener on Tuesday. Winning pitcher Jaren Slusher went the distance, scattering five hits and striking out nine.
Northmont (10-17) is at GWOC American North champ Butler (20-6) in a second-round game on Thursday. This is the first season for Ross Kincaid to coach the Thunderbolts after succeeding veteran Chuck Harlow. Now Brookville’s coach, Harlow guided Northmont the previous 34 seasons. Fairborn finished 14-12.
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• Carroll defeated visiting Fairmont 3-2 on a game-winning, walk-off hit from Trent Randall in the seventh inning that sent Jacob Maurer home with the winning run in another D-I sectional opener on Tuesday. Randall also pitched five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out three.
Carroll (16-11) takes a four-game win streak to second-seeded Beavercreek (18-7) in the second round on Thursday. Fairmont finishes 11-14.
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• Defending D-II baseball state champ Chaminade Julienne has extra incentive to defend that title: veteran Eagles coach Mike Barhorst will retire after this season. A 1985 CJ graduate, this is the 20th season Barhorst has been the Eagles’ head coach.
Among the many players Barhorst has coached were three sons, Mark (2017 grad), Dan (’12) and Todd (’10) Barhorst. “That is one of the main reasons I’ve done it for so long,” Barhorst said to cjeagles.org.
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CJ (20-2) is top seeded and takes a 16-game win streak into its D-II sectional opener (following a bye) on Thursday against Trotwood-Madison at Howell Field in Dayton. The Eagles also are No. 1 in the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association D-II state poll.
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• Greenville softball extended its streak to 16 straight seasons with 25 or more wins with Jerrod Newland as coach by defeating Franklin 10-0 in a D-II district semifinal at Bellbrook on Tuesday. Greenville (25-4) is paired against Taylor (24-3) in a D-II district final at 11 a.m. Saturday at Lakota East.
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