Bad start dooms Whiteoak in regional final


LANCASTER — In a battle between the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked Division IV teams in Ohio, Whiteoak High’s tournament run met an uprupt end in the Region 15 final as the Wildcats fell 8-0 to Berlin Hiland Friday night at Beavers Field.

Berlin moved on to the state championship series, where they will play Tiffin Calvert at Canal Park in Akron.

The Wildcats were doomed by error-filled first, second and third innings, where two tight plays at first base went awry and a flyball was dropped. The three mistakes combined to allow five runs to score and prolonged an inning enough for another Berlin runner to make it home.

“We were terrible for the first three innings. But the last three, they didn’t score,” Whiteoak manager Chris Veidt said. “Baseball is a crazy game and when you get to this level sometimes, and we work on it, but negativity sometimes is a tough thing to deal with as a group. We’ve been optimistic all year, we’ve been resilient … we just have to throw and catch better behind [our] two arms and we didn’t. At this level you can’t do that.”

At the plate, Whiteoak failed to record a hit until its 15th batter, which happened to be Eli Roberts who ripped a single into right field. They struck out 12 times, 10 times against Will Schlabach and twice to Isaak Yoder.

Ian Griffith and Zander Roades were hit by pitches while David Donohoo reached on an error; Solomon Combs and Nate Price walked.

The six Wildcat seniors combined for 1-15 at the plate.

With their high school careers now over, Veidt said, “Six of them, six starters, four All-Ohio kids at some level, conference player of the year, all-conference, all-district, they all got some kind of accolade.

“Irreplaceable. Great people. They deserved a better fate than tonight but that’s just not the way it worked out. We ran into a good opponent that was opportunistic and took advantage of every mistake we made and threw two good arms at us.”

In his final high school baseball game, Luken Roades went the distance on the mound for Whiteoak, striking out five and walking three. He did not give up an earned run.

“Luken Roades kept his composure on the mound and he was great. I think he deserved a better fate,” Veidt said. “He and Landen [Barnett] both, I don’t do this during the regular season, but when you get into the tournament, you ride your horses and he got to his pitch count, and it was time for him to come out. It was time for him to come out — he had done his job.”

Veidt believes his Wildcats, though they didn’t play well on this day, were beaten by the best.

“I fully expect [Berlin Highland] to win it, which might be an unfair statement, but we’ve seen most of the teams that are at state, we’re pretty familiar with them,” he said. “I thought leaving here last year that they were going to win it too, but you never know which way the ball is going to bounce, it’s a crazy game. There is no better Division IV baseball team in the state of Ohio than them. I promise you that.”

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