Barnesville advances to Division III baseball Final Four
LANASTER – It took the Barnesville High School baseball team 12 innings to score three runs in the regional semifinal win Friday, but on Saturday, the Shamrocks scored more than three times that many runs to beat Minford High 10-7 and win the Division III Region 11 Championship game.
“We told the team this morning, that this is going to be their (Minford’s) second pitcher and this is not going to be a 3-2 game, and they answered the bell,” Barnesville coach DJ Butler said. “They said they were going to score some runs and they answered the bell.”
Trailing 4-2 entering the fourth inning, the confident Shamrock offense exploded scoring six runs on five hits to take control of the championship game.
Designated hitter Logan Shephard led off with a single to right field. C.J. Hannahs reached on a single to center field and nine-hole hitter Spencer Bliss loaded the bases with a beauty of a bunt down the third base line.
Back-to-back walks by Ayden Hannahs and Jeremy Hunkler forced in a pair of runs to tie the game at 4-4. Jake Edwards ripped the first pitch he saw down the leftfield line for a double driving in Bliss and Hannahs. Gavin Carpenter followed with another shot down the left-field line to score Hunkler and Edwards.
A double play by the Falcons ended the inning but the damage was done as Barnesville took a commanding 8-4 lead.
“That was a big inning because we gave up the lead the inning before that,” Butler said. “I think putting up the zero in the inning after that was big too, because we took a little momentum away from them and it got our confidence back up. I think it got Gavin to relax on the mound and really settle down, also.”
Barnesville’s Carpenter, who came on to relieve starter Edwards in the third, seemed to thrive with lead. Carpenter retired Minford in order in the bottom of the fourth and kept them off the scoreboard in the fifth and sixth innings also.
“I think we have four pitchers who are capable of beating anybody. When one of them doesn’t have their best stuff, the next one is always there,” Butler said. “Jake (Edwards) struggled a little bit with his command today, he gutted it out as long as he could go, and then Gavin (Carpenter) came in and was really clutch for us.”
The defense was solid behind its pitchers as well, committing only one error in the game and making some fine defensive plays.
“Our only error today was a rushed play, and it wasn’t like it was an easy play,” Butler said. “Our outfield is unbelievable. They go get some balls that you think are going to be in the gap, but they make it look easy.”
While Carpenter was putting up zeros on the scoreboard, his teammates were busy adding to the lead. In the top of the sixth inning, Bliss reached on an infield single to the left side, stole second base and moved to third on a wild pitch. It looked like he would be stranded on base when Edwards hit a grounder to third, but the Falcon defense faltered with an errant throw that allowed Edwards to reach and Bliss to score.
After pinch runner Duke Castello moved to second on a passed ball, Carpenter picked up his third RBI of the day with a double into the right center field gap to plate Castello and extend the Shamrock lead to 10-4.
Minford, entering the game with a 25-2-1 record, was not going to go down easily. The Falcons made the Barnesville fans worry by scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Adam Crank drew a lead off walk. Elijah Vogelsong reached on a hard grounder that was stopped by in shallow right field by a diving Ayden Hannahs. Aodan Queen reached on a slow roller to the right side that loaded the bases.
Matt Risner picked up an RBI with blooper to shallow left field before Levi Coriell hit a sacrifice fly to center field to plate Vogelsong. Queen scored on a comebacker to the Carpenter on the mound before Cole Borland flied out to right field to end the game.
The two teams traded runs early with Minford getting the first run in first inning when Vogelsong scored on a single to center field by Risner.
Barnesville answered in the top of the second when Kyvan Johnson walked and Shephard singled. A walk to CJ Hannahs loaded the bases and a walk to Bliss drove in a Johnson. Ayden Hannahs knocked in the second run of the frame with a sacrifice fly to right field to make the score 2-1.
Minford linked together a pair of hits and a fielder’s choice to put runners on first and third before Branson Alley scored on a wild pitch to tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the second.
The Falcons regained the lead in the bottom of the third when Queen laced a one-out triple to the left center field gap to chase Barnesville’s Edwards from the mound. A bunt single by Risner scored Queen. Risner eventually came around to score on a single by Alley.
For the game, Barnesville who improves to 23-7 on the season, was led by Carpenter with a single, a double and three RBIs, Shephard and Bliss with two singles and two runs each, and Edwards with a double, two RBIs and two runs.
Minford was paced by Risner with three singles, Vogelsong with a pair of singles and two runs, and Queen with a triple and two runs.
NEXT – Barnesville will now play in the Division III State Semifinals at 10 a.m. on Thursday at Akron’s Canal Park where they will face the Region 12 winner. Barnesville High School last advanced to the State Tournament in 2004.