XENIA — Blanchester baseball’s historic tournament run ended one win shy of the state final four.
Buoyed by a strong outing from Sam Wirsing and a pair of two-run singles, Madeira defeated Blanchester 4-0 in the Region 12 championship game Friday at Grady’s Field on the Athletes in Action campus.
Wirsing went six innings, allowing just two hits while fanning 10 Wildcat hitters. However, it was Casey Wirsing, not Sam, who came out to pitch the seventh.
The pitching change gave the Wildcats’ dream season one final spark.
“We very easily could have laid an egg,” BHS head coach Aaron Lawson said. “It’s 8-9 (leading off). The only way it gets better for Madeira is if it’s 7-8-9.”
Eric Patton took the first pitch from Casey Wirsing and lined it up the middle for a hit. Preston Griffin followed with a rocket to deep center field that Lee Magois was able to track down for the first out.
“I thought those outfielders were playing shallow … maybe medium,” said Lawson. “They weren’t even playing regular depth. As fast as Preston is and as far as they were playing in, Patton scores from first and that’s a triple for Preston.”
Jacksson Waialae followed with a walk after getting behind 0-2. Dustin Howard was next, and what followed nearly brought the Wildcats back into the game.
Howard smashed a full-count pitch into the gap in left center. It looked like extra bases and a pair of runs for the Wildcats. However, Matt Megois tracked it down on the dead sprint in the gap to deny Howard of at least a two-run double.
“I’m telling (Patton) ‘score!’” Lawson said. “If (Howard’s) gets to the wall, the runner scores and (Howard) hits a double, maybe a triple.
“We might still be playing if those two balls don’t get caught. It’s a shame it had to happen like that because that’s all I’m going to talk about for the next year.”
Brant Bandow grounded into a fielder’s choice to end it.
Blanchester had its chances against Sam Wirsing. Wirsing walked two in the third only to strike out the other three batters he faced.
In the fifth, he alternated walks and strikeouts until the bases were loaded with two outs. He got Bandow to pop out to first baseman Jake Weiner right in front of the Blanchester dugout.
Waialae, making his first start since May 3, was outstanding for Blanchester. He pitched a complete game, allowing three earned runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out 11.
“He pitched phenomenal,” Lawson said. “We didn’t even know how sharp he was going to be. That was his best outing of the year.”
A two-run single by Patrick Thatcher in the second and a two-run single by Tyler Sullivan in the fifth provided all the runs the Mustangs needed.
The unique mix of young and veteran Wildcats believed they could win until the final out.
It was that belief, Lawson said, that fueled this historic regional runner-up finish.
“One hundred percent, they thought they had a shot at it,” Lawson said. “This team absolutely believed. It didn’t matter who we played. We were able to come out and play at that level.
“We just ran into a good arm.”
Athletes in Action Sports Complex, Xenia
OHSAA Division III, Region 12 Championship Game
Madeira 4, Blanchester 0
(0) BLANCHESTER (ab-r-h-rbi) Waialae 2-0-0-0 Howard 3-0-0-0 Bandow 4-0-1-0 Rice 3-0-1-0 Czaika 0-0-0-0 Farrow 3-0-0-0 Ballard 3-0-0-0 Ficke 2-0-0-0 Patton 2-0-1-0 Griffin 2-0-0-0 Davidson 0-0-0-0. TOTALS 24-0-3-0.
(4) MADEIRA (ab-r-h-rbi) Thatcher 4-0-1-2 M. Megois 3-1-1-0 S. Wirsing 3-1-1-0 C. Wirsing 0-0-0-0 Richmond 2-0-1-0 Sullivan 2-0-1-2 Waltz 2-1-0-0 Cobb 3-0-1-0 Schroeder 2-1-0-0 L. Megois 3-0-1-0 Weiner 0-0-0-0. TOTALS 24-4-7-4.
2B: M – M. Megois
SB: M – Waltz
CS: M – Sullivan (Ficke to Howard)
Waialae (L) 6-7-4-3-3-11
S. Wirsing (W) 6-2-0-0-5-10
C. Wirsing 1-1-0-0-1-0
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton.