AKRON — The remarkable run of the Washington Blue Lion baseball team (27-1) came to a heartbreaking end on Friday, June 9 as they fell to the Ontario Warriors (16-14) by a score of 2-1 in the second game of two D-II State Semifinal contests at Canal Park. In the first D-II State Semifinal match up, Kenston defeated Chaminade-Julienne by a score 0f 4-2.
The Blue Lions started senior Tanner Lemaster on the mound and the Warriors started Carter Weaver.
In the top of the first inning, Lemaster retired the first two batters before allowing a single on a hard ground ball up the middle. The next batter hit a chopper to freshman Sam Lotz who made the play for the final out.
In the bottom half of the inning, John Wall drew a leadoff walk and later stole second base, but the next three batters were retired in order to end the inning.
Lemaster and the Blue Lion defense would retire the side quickly in the top half of the second inning, with Lemaster throwing just eight pitches.
Washington was retired in similar fashion in the bottom of the second to leave it scoreless going into the third inning.
In the top of the third, Lemaster struck out the first two batters before walking Colton Ramion to give Ontario their second base runner of the game. Ramion would later steal second base, and the next batter crushed a ball into the gap in right-center field but A.J. Dallmayer made a remarkable diving catch to end the inning.
After the first two batters were retired for the Blue Lions, Wall walked, Titus Lotz was hit by a pitch, and Dallmayer walked to load the bases. Washington was not able to come away with inning runs though, as Weaver retired the next batter to get out of the jam.
Ontario would draw first blood in the top half of inning number four. Gage Weaver led off with a single to right field and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. After the next batter lined out to Wall at shortstop, the next batter drew a walk. Braxton Hall then hit a single to left field to score Weaver for the first run of the game. Lemaster was able to strikeout the next batter to avoid any more damage.
Washington would even the score in the bottom of the fourth. After the first batter was retired, Bryce Yeazel walked and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by R.J. Foose. Will Miller then delivered a line drive single to center field to score Yeazel and tie the game. Evan Lynch was hit by a pitch and then Wall hit a single to center field. On the play, Miller attempted to score from second base but was thrown out at home plate to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth, Peyton Dzugan led off with a single for Ontario, followed by another single from Ramion. The next batter grounded into a fielder’s choice, followed by a single from Gage Weaver to load the bases. Washington head coach Mark Schwartz made a mound visit and pulled Lemaster for Dallmayer, moving Lemaster to third base and bringing Gavin Coffman in to left field. Curtis Weaver was next and reached on an error that scored Ramion and allowed the Warriors to regain the lead. Dallmayer would strike out the next two batters to end the inning.
Ontario made a pitching change of their own in the bottom of the fifth, bringing in Carter Walters. Walters proceeded to retire the Blue Lion offense in order to send it to inning number six.
Dallmayer would force a slow grounder to Yeazel at second who recorded the first out of the inning, followed by an excellent play by Wall on a hard ground ball to his right for the second out of the inning. Dzugan was next and drew a walk for the Warriors. With two outs, Yeazel made a diving stop on a sharply-hit ball to the right side and threw it to Lotz at first for the final out of the inning.
Walters once again retired Washington in order to send it to the final inning.
Dallmayer retired the first two batters in the top of the seventh inning before walking Carter Weaver. Weaver was caught stealing to end the inning.
The first two batters were retired for Washington to send Wall to the plate with the season on the line. Wall would single and advance to second base on an errant throw, putting the tying run in scoring position. Unfortunately, the next batter would ground out to second base to end the game.
Lemaster pitched four and a third innings for Washington, suffering the loss. He allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
Dallmayer pitched the final two and two-thirds innings, allowing no runs on no hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
Weaver pitched four innings for the Warriors, allowing one run on two hits with four walks and five strikeouts.
Walters pitched the final three innings for Ontario, allowing no runs on one hit with no walks and three strikeouts.
Offensively for Washington, Wall led the way going 2-for-2 with two walks.
Miller was 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Dallmayer and Yeazel each walked once, and Lotz and Lynch were each hit by a pitch to reach base.
Offensively for Ontario, Gage Weaver led them going 3-for-4 with a run scored.
Hall was 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Ramion was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Dzugan was 1-for-3 with a walk.
Curtis Weaver was 0-for-2 with a walk and an RBI.
Schwartz reflected on the game and the season following the loss.
“It was a pitching duel. Their pitcher kept us off balance and they got the big out when we had runners in scoring position. We just didn’t make enough plays. I still think we’re the better team but you know in baseball the best team doesn’t always win. I’m super proud of our effort from our guys. They didn’t give up and they fought like they have all year. They might not realize it now but it’s been a pretty special season. To win 27 games and only lose two is pretty special. Obviously, we didn’t get the outcome we wanted. We wanted to play tomorrow but we’ve done something that only four teams have done in the history of the school.”
He spoke about the seniors that will be moving on.
“It’s gonna be hard to replace those guys. We lose the pitching we have with Titus, A.J., and Tanner, and the big stick Jonah Waters who was an awesome catcher all year and seemed to always get a big hit when we needed it. R.J. Foose was hurt early and made it back and contributed big time offensively in the last three or four weeks. We lose Collin Southworth who understood his role and probably didn’t get to play as much as he wanted, but he understood his role and accepted it and was a great teammate. We brought up Andrew Ingram-Shaw from the JV team and it has been great to have him as a part of this. It’s gonna be hard to replace those seven guys and all of the talent and leadership they provided us. Those guys are gonna have bright futures in whatever they do, and i’ll sure miss them.”
He finished by thanking the fans and the community.
“I want to say thank you to the Fayette County community for supporting this team. We had a big week before we came up here with lots of work getting us a bus and setting up team meals and everything. We’ve got the best fans around and the best parents. This is the best group of parents I’ve ever had in my coaching career and it’s gonna be hard to replace them too. thank everybody. Thank you to everyone in the Washington Court House City School District, especially athletic director Greg Phipps. They were a big part of our run.”
Ontario will play Kenston for the D-II State Championship on Saturday, June 10 at 4 p.m. at Canal Park in Akron. Washington ends their season with a record of 27-2, which included a 26-game winning streak.