Waynesville baseball falls in regional semis

FAIRBORN – The little unplanned baseball things that kept Waynesville’s unexpected tournament run going finally stopped Thursday. Instead, Heath got the breaks, the perfect bunts, the hit batsmen, the bloop doubles down the line.

And the big inning.

Heath scored six times in the sixth inning and ended Waynesville’s tournament magic 9-0 at Wright State’s Nischwitz Stadium in a Division III region semifinal. Heath faces Greeneview at 5 p.m. Friday in the final at Nischwitz.

“We’ve been streaky and lately had some things go our way,” Spartans coach Ryan Hill said. “Baseball is a weird game. Misplay one here, put a couple guys on base and it’s hard to recover from that. We’ve been able to fortunately recover from that most of this postseason, and tonight it bit us.”

Heath scored twice in the first against starter Joe Stone on the first of three Waynesville errors and a squeeze bunt. The Bulldogs added a run in the fourth when a bunt moved a runner to third and a wild pitch brought him home. The Bulldogs then loaded the bases with two outs but Stone got line-drive out to center.

The sixth inning unraveled quickly on Nate LeBlanc, the winning pitcher in last week’s district final. Single, strikeout, single, bunt back to the mound and an overthrow to first made it 4-0. Then a hit batsmen with the bases loaded, consecutive two-run singles and Heath had its nine runs.

As the Spartans gathered around Hill in the outfield after the game, there were eventually smiles. They entered the tournament as a No. 13 seed with a 9-11 record and won four games to finish 13-12.

“I couldn’t be prouder of of a group of young men and the expectation they’ve set for for what we want the program to be about, not just with with baseball but how we carry ourselves,” Hill said. “That’s going to set them up for for things that are that are bigger than baseball down the road.”

Hill coached the Spartans for four years through 2019 and now the past two years. His teams have played in four district finals. His 2017 team won a Division II district title, but that was not unexpected. This year, however, was unexpected.

“They really bought into themselves and believing in themselves,” Hill said. “We push all the time that the moment gets too big for a lot of people. So do one or two things that you know you have to do really well individually to help the team. They started doing that and started playing for one another, and I don’t think it’s an accident that you get rewarded when you put other people first.”

About the Author