ATHENS — For the second year in a row, the Blue Lion baseball team is headed to the sweet 16 after winning the D-II Southeast District Championship on Wednesday, May 24. Washington defeated the Circleville Tigers by a score of 4-2 at Bob Wren Stadium, home of the Ohio Bobcats.
The Blue Lions started senior Tanner Lemaster on the mound and the Tigers started senior Tate Debord.
Lemaster worked five innings, allowing two runs on five hits with one walk and six strikeouts.
Debord pitched four innings in the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts.
A.J. Dallmayer pitched the final two innings for Washington, allowing no hits or runs with one walk and four strikeouts.
Scotty Moats pitched two innings in relief for the Tigers, allowing one run on two hits with one walk and one strikeout.
The Blue Lions got the scoring started early on Wednesday, as John Wall led off the bottom of the first inning with a single and stole second and later scored after a double from Dallmayer moved Wall to third and a single from Jonah Waters scored Wall. Washington was threatening to add more runs with runners on second and third and only one out, but Debord was able to retire the next two batters to get out of the jam.
Wall led off the bottom of the third inning with a single. After multiple pick-off attempts, Wall would get caught in a pickle but safely reached second base on a fielding error. He would later score when Waters ripped a two-out double to left field, giving the Blue Lions a 2-0 lead.
Circleville made things interesting in the top of the fifth inning. With one out, Matt Bradley had a bunt single and later stole second. Moats then singled to move Bradley to third. Austin Gray was then hit by a pitch to load the bases for Debord. He would hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Bradley and moved Moats to third. Nolan West then hit a ball deep into the hole at shortstop that Wall fielded but was unable to make the out at first in time. This scored Moats which tied the game, 2-2. Lemaster was able to get out of the inning with no more damage being done.
With all of the momentum swinging Circleville’s way, Blue Lion junior Evan Lynch destroyed that momentum when he led off the bottom of the fifth inning by crushing a ball over the right fielders head for a triple. Wall was next and would walk and steal second base. Titus Lotz would hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Lynch and moved Wall to third. Dallmayer followed with a single to center field to score Wall. The next two batters were retired as Washington regained a two-run lead with just two innings remaining.
After Dallmayer retired the Tigers in order in the sixth inning, the Blue Lions were also retired quickly with the exception of a single from senior R.J. Foose. After striking out the lead off batter for Circleville, Dallmayer walked the next batter and hit the batter after that to put two runners on for Debord. Dallmayer was able to strike him out, along with the next batter, to clinch back-to-back District Championships for Washington.
Offensively for the Blue Lions, Waters led the way going 2 for 3 with a double and two RBI.
Dallmayer was 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI.
Wall was 2 for 3 with a walk and three runs scored.
Lynch was 1 for 3 with a triple and a run scored.
Foose was 1 for 3.
Wall stole two bases for Washington, and Dallmayer and Waters each stole one.
Blue Lion head coach Mark Schwartz shared some comments after the victory.
”It hasn’t been easy. Every team we have played in the tournament has been very good. We’ve had a target on our back since last year and especially with returning the talent we have. The players have been amazing. They haven’t let anything bother them or any outside noise effect them or change their expectations. It seems like it’s a different guy every night that picks us up and tonight it was Evan Lynch with the big triple in the fifth, Jonah Waters, we don’t know how many two-out RBI hits he has this year but it’s got to be double figures by by a lot. It was a great team win, Tanner pitched his butt off. They had a couple infield hits and bunts but other than that he pitched like Tanner does. We brought AJ in for Tanner. If he played for any other team, they’d have him at about 40 innings pitched for the year and right now for us he’s pitched about 15. We save him as a closer role, and I hate to take him out of center field because he catches everything.”
He finished, “I’m proud of the boys and we would like to thank the fans. We had a lot of fans that were here. We have gotten great support all year and it’s just great to see. With Bloom-Carroll, I know that they won the Mid-State League, which is a tough league, and they will be a very tough opponent.”
Washington (25-1) will travel to Ohio Dominican University on Thursday, June 1 at 2 p.m. against Bloom-Carrol (28-2). The Bulldogs defeated Jonathan Alder on Wednesday by a score of 9-6.