The Whiteoak Wildcats defeated cross-county and league rival Fairfield Lions on Wednesday, by a score of 3-1, in the sectional finals of the Southeast district boys baseball tournament.
The energy at Whiteoak High School for this game was at peak levels. The stands were full forcing fans to sit in the grass in multiple places around the field.
Evan Brill, starting pitcher for the Wildcats, was in control the whole night. Brill recorded four strikeouts on the night, and when opposing batters made contact with the ball the Wildcat defense was there to make make a play, resulting in only four hits for the Lions.
Sam Buddelmyer, starting pitcher for the Lions, also pitched well recording seven strikeouts on the evening and only allowing the Wildcats to score one run through five innings.
Cody Gragg singled over the head of Traeten Hamilton at second base and stole two bases before being caught off the bag, on a line out by Buddelmyer, for a double play to end the inning. Klay Walker also reached base in the first inning courtesy of a walk.
Hamilton drew a walk to put a runner on the base paths for the Wildcats, and stole second before watching Chase Butler, Trevor Yeager, and Caleb West go down in order to end the inning.
Andrew Dingey reached base on a walk in the top of the second inning but, the Lions were unable to capitalize as Mathew Spears struck out to end the inning.
Casey Nace recorded a single in the bottom of the second inning but was left on base when Ryan Roberts grounded into a 6-3 putout to neutralize the threat.
Mason Cain, Austin Setty, and Gragg were retired in order with all three grounding out in the top of the third inning.
Hamilton walked in the bottom of the third to place a runner on first for the Wildcats, he went on to steal second but was stranded when Yeager launched a fly ball to center field that was caught by Walker for the third out of the inning.
Tucker Ayers reached base on a single and stole second base to put a runner in scoring position for the Lions. Jacob Bowman ended the inning with a bouncing grounder to Brill who calmly turned and got the put out at first for out number three.
West reached base on an error by the right fielder and went on to score off of an RBI single by Roberts to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead heading into the top of the fifth inning.
The fifth inning saw three batters for each team retired in order to advance to the sixth.
Gragg registered a single in the top of the sixth inning, stole second base, and scored a run on a single by Buddelmyer to knot the game at two heading into the bottom of the sixth.
Brandon Lowe scored courtesy of a walk to Zach Harless. Brill would also score in the inning when Hamilton was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. The two runs in the inning gave the Wildcats all the cushion they would need as Brill would take care of business in the seventh inning to secure the win for the Wildcats.
Fairfield head coach Tony Haley said of Brill’s performance, “Brill pitched a whale of a game, he kept us off balance and we didn’t hit very well.”
Whiteoak head coach Chris Veidt said, “Evan got stronger as the game went on, after the lead off hit over the head of Hamilton, he was motivated to be better, seemed like he was throwing the ball harder.”
The Wildcats advance to play number one seed Waterford on May 15 at Paints stadium in Chillicothe.
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or Twitter @RCApplegate89.