Whiteoak Wildcat baseball advanced to the Regional Final game at Beavers Stadium in Lancaster on Friday with a hard fought 4-3 win over the Toronto Red Knights. The Wildcats will take on Eastern Meigs Friday for the right to advance to the state tournament.
Traeten Hamilton drew a walk from the leadoff spot in the top of the first inning to put the first base runner on for Whiteoak. However, Hamilton was caught trying to steal second during Chase Carraher’s following at bat and Carraher flew out to center for the second out of the inning. Caleb West ended the inning with a ground ball to the shortstop.
Evan Brill got the start for the Wildcats and made quick work of the Red Knights in the bottom of the first as he forced to fly balls that were tracked down by Trevor Yeager in center field for outs one and three. Mason Lehr caught a popup behind the pitcher’s mound for out number two.
In the top of the second inning Brill drew a walk to put the first batter of the inning on base for the second straight inning for the Wildcats. Brill went on to steal second as Lehr faced down the Toronto pitcher. Lehr grounded out to second base on a sacrifice that moved Brill to third. Brill scored on a sacrifice fly ball to right field by Yeager and Casey Nace ended the inning with a strikeout in the following at bat.
The Red Knights answered with two runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 2-1 lead. Toronto got a lead off double to put a man in scoring position and followed two batters later with an RBI single to tie the game. The Toronto base runner advanced to second on an error by Brill as he attempted to catch the runner sleeping and overthrew first base. Another single by the Red Knights plated the runner on second for the lead. But, the runner on first was caught stealing to end the inning for Toronto.
Following quiet innings from both team in the third, fourth and fifth the Wildcats rallied in the top of the sixth inning. Chase Butler got things started with a single to right field and then stole second to put him in scoring position. Ryan Roberts followed up with a walk before Hamilton doubled to left center field that plated Butler and Roberts and gave the Wildcats a 3-2 lead.
Hamilton was picked off at second base after Carraher singled in the next at bat to put a runner on first and second for Whiteoak. But, Hamilton was caught in a run down and tagged out as Carraher advanced to second base. West followed up with a single to advance Carraher to third and Brill drove him in with a single. Lehr ended the inning with a strikeout but, the damage was done and Whiteoak led 4-2.
A scary moment in the bottom of the sixth inning saw Carraher taken out at second by a Red Knight base runner trying to turn a double play. The umpire called interference on the play resulting in the third out of the inning despite protests by the Toronto coaches. Carraher was attended to on the field and walked off under his own power, he returned to the game appearing to suffer no lingering effects.
Whiteoak once again got the first batter of the inning on base in the top of the seventh inning as Yeager drew a walk. Chase Butler followed two batters later and reached on an error before Roberts stuck out to bring Hamiton to the plate. Hamilton was intentionally walked to load the bases before Carraher struck out to end the Wildcat threat and send the game to the bottom of the seventh with Whiteoak leading 4-2.
The lead off hitter for the Red Knights drew a walk and then advanced to second on a wild pitch by Brill. The next batter hit a sacrifice fly to right field to advance the runner to third and he went on to score on a second wild pitch by Brill to narrow the margin to 4-3. Brill got the next two batters to pop out to himself and catcher Billy Oliver to secure the win.
Both teams finished with six hits on the night while the Red Knights committed two errors on the night and Whiteoak had one.
Whiteoak head coach Chris Veidt talked about what it means to him and his team to advance to the regional finals.
“It’s special, it’s a special moment and a lot of head coaches don’t get the opportunity to feel the feeling. It’s emotional, it really is because you think about all the years and the toil, the kids, the administration, the community and the parents that have made it all possible. They are a big part of it I tell you,” said Veidt.
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.