WAYNESVILLE – It was over in approximately 15 minutes.
But the resumption of the Blanchester versus Carlisle Division III Southwest District Championship baseball game Sunday was packed with plenty of excitement.
The game re-started with two outs in the top of the seventh and the Wildcats on top 8-6.
BHS plated a run on a thrilling phantom stolen base play and then closed out the win in the bottom of the seventh for a 9-6 win and the school’s first district baseball championship after five runnerup finishes.
“It’s always a great thing if you can make school history,” BHS coach Aaron Lawson said. “It’s also really big for the program and the town.”
Blanchester has been district runnersup previously in 1951, 1995, 1997, 2000 and 2015.
Blanchester will play 2:30 p.m. Thursday in a Division III Southwest Regional semifinal game against SBAAC National Division rival Bethel-Tate. The two teams split a pair of conference games during the regular season.
When play resumed on Sunday, Preston Griffin was on third with two outs and the hot-hitting Dustin Howard at the plate. Howard reached on a fielding error by the third baseman. Griffin remained at third on the play.
With a left-handed pitcher on the mound, Blanchester pulled off a trick play. Howard fell down on a phantom steal attempt, pulling the Carlisle pitcher off the mound in pursuit.
“We were thinking as a coaching staff, if there were a way to trade a run for an out, we would,” Lawson said. “With one out, it would be easy. But with two outs, it’s more difficult.”
So the phantom steal was the only option.
And Howard pulled off his part to perfection and got into a pickle that allowed Griffin to race home with a run that put BHS up by three.
“Any time you run a trick play, in any sport, if it works that pumps your team up,” Lawson said. “It easily could have backfired. They throw Preston out at the plate and it’s a whole new ballgame.”
But as the Carlisle pitcher pumped his fist when Howard was tagged out, he was unaware Griffin had already scored so the run counted the Indians were faced with a three-run hole.
And the No. 1 BHS pitcher, Brody Rice, was on the mound.
“If you can hand your ace three runs and say “Give me three outs, I really like our odds’,” the BHS coach said. “I’ve never seen him throw in a pressure situation like that because he’s a freshman, so I didn’t know what I was getting in to.”
All Rice did was strike out the first two batters in impressive fashion. After a hit, Rice got a looper to shallow center where Jack Davidson was patrolling the outfield and the senior made the catch easily to spark another celebration.
“Jack’s been out there for three years,” said Lawson. “I trust anything that kid does out there.”
May 20 2018
Division II Southwest District
@Waynesville High School
Blanchester 9 Carlisle 6
(9) BLANCHESTER (ab-r-h-rbi) Davidson 3-1-0-0 Howard 3-1-1-0 Bandow 2-1-0-1 Farrow 3-0-0-0-1 Czaika 0-0-0-0 Ballard 3-2-2-1 Ficke 2-1-0-0 Rice 3-1-1-2 Patton 3-1-2-2 Griffin 4-1-2-1. TOTALS 26-9-8-8
(6) CARLISLE (ab-r-h-rbi) Moore 5-1-2-0 Flatter 5-1-1-0 Stewart 2-2-1-0 Saylor 3-2-1-3 Keeton 3-0-1-2 Stidham 3-0-1-1 Burney 4-0-1-0 Rutherford 4-0-1-0 Roberts 2-0-0-0. TOTALS 31-6-9-6
SB: B-Ballard; C-Moore, Rutherford, Roberts
Ballard (W) 3.2-7-6-5-1-0
Rice (S) 1-1-0-0-0-2
Saylor (L) 0.1-5-7-7-2-0