The Whiteoak Wildcats advanced to the Division IV State Final Four to take on the Hicksville Aces on Thursday, May 31, in Columbus. Whiteoak held off the Eastern Meigs Eagles on Friday at Beavers Field in Lancaster for a 5-4 win.
Whiteoak’s Trever Yeager, the second reliever of the game for the Wildcats, got pinch hitter Isaiah Fish to strike out in the bottom of the seventh inning with the tying run on second base to record the save for Whiteoak.
Chase Butler recorded the win for the Wildcats as he pitched four and two-thirds innings and allowed two runs on four hits while striking out one batter. Butler also issued four walks and hit one batter on the evening.
Traeten Hamilton relieved Butler in the fourth inning and pitched two-thirds of an inning. Hamilton got Eastern’s Kaleb Hill to fly out to first base to end the fourth inning and struck out Josh Brewer in the bottom of the sixth in between a walk to the Eagle’s Nate Durst and hitting Kaleb Hornaker to put runners on first and second for Eastern. Yeager finished off the inning by striking out Owen Arix, issuing a walk to Christian Mattox to load the bases and got Matthew Blanchard to pop out to Hamilton at second to end the inning and leave three Eagle’s runners stranded.
The Wildcats came out in the top of the first inning with their A-game as they quickly built a 4-0 lead before the Eagles knew what hit them. Hamilton opened the game by reaching first on an error by the Eagles’ shortstop. Chase Carraher followed with a single to put runners on first and second for the Wildcats.
Caleb West singled to right field to score Hamilton and Carraher for the first two runs of the game. Evan Brill struck out for the first out of the inning before Mason Lehr doubled to deep center field to score West, who stole second during Brill’s at bat, for the third run. Yeager struck out for the second out of the inning before Casey Nace singled to left field to score Lehr, who advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Butler hit into a fielder’s choice that saw Nace out at second to end the top of the first.
The Eagles answered in the bottom of the second inning with a run of their own to climb to within three runs at 4-1. Durst was hit by a pitch, with one out, to put a runner on first base for Eastern. Brewer followed up with a single to left field to place runners at first and second. Ryan Harbour struck out for the second out of the inning before Arix singled to left to score Durst.
Brewer rounded third and headed for home plate as Carraher received the throw from West about ten steps deep in the outfield and quickly turned and fired towards home where Billy Oliver made the tag on Brewer to end the inning for the Eagles and maintain the Wildcats’ 4-1 advantage.
Whiteoak head coach Chris Veidt pointed to the relay by Carraher to get Brewer at the plate as a key play in the game.
“That relay throw that Chase Carraher cut the guy down at the plate by about 15 feet. Just a great great relay and a great throw by Chase,” said Veidt.
Eastern added a second run in the bottom of the third inning and Hamilton plated Ryan Roberts in the top of the fourth to account for the fifth run by the Wildcats.
The Wildcats had the opportunity to add to their 5-2 lead in the top of the seventh inning with the bases loaded but Yeager grounded into a 5-3 putout to end the inning.
The Eagles came out in the bottom of the seventh inning on a mission as the first two batters of the inning each singled before Kaleb Hill hit a sacrifice fly ball to right field to score Austin Coleman from third base. Ethen Richmond, the second batter of the inning, went on to score on a wild pitch to close the gap to one run at 5-4. Brewer lined out to Lehr at third for out number two. Pinch hitter Fish struck out in the following at bat to end the game.
A clearly emotional Veidt talked about how special it is for him to reach the Final Four after 27 years as the head coach at Whiteoak High School.
“You know, when you are younger, you sit there and you’re like uh….you see games and stuff on tv and you’re like….’What are these guys crying for? How do they get so emotional?’ and I know now. Because, things go through your mind, the work, the people and the sweat and tears. It’s always you’re goal but, you’re just never really sure if it’s going to happen to you. Nobody deserves it to happen to them, it just does. It’s not me. It’s me with two great assistant coaches and great kids, parents and administrators. It’s a great place to live and prosper in southern Highland County. I’ve been there 27 years for a reason, I love it, I love the people, I love the kids and it’s pretty emotional, it really is,” Veidt said.
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.