The Miami Trace Panthers opened tournament play with a Sectional championship game against the Logan Elm Braves on a beautiful Thursday evening at Coe Field on the campus of Miami Trace High School.
The Braves, the No. 9 seed, stunned the No. 1-seeded Panthers, 5-3.
Miami Trace ends the 2018 season with a record of 16-6. The Panthers were co-champions of the Frontier Athletic Conference with a record of 7-3.
“We’ve been close all year,” Logan Elm head coach Scott Pontious said. “We’re finally getting hitting up and down the line-up and we’re getting on a roll.
“You want to play better at the end of the season than the beginning of the season and we definitely are,” Pontious said.
Cody Anderson was the winning pitcher for Logan Elm. He pitched seven innings.
He struck out 11 and walked two. Two of the runs were earned.
Darby Tyree started and suffered the loss for the Panthers. He pitched 5.1 innings with seven hits, five runs (two earned), three strikeouts, four walks and one hit batsman.
Austin Mathews pitched in relief for Miami Trace. He pitched 1.2 innings with two hits and one strikeout.
“Where you’re seeded in the tournament doesn’t mean a thing,” Miami Trace head coach Rob Smith said. “I’ve seen it in all my years of coaching. They’ve gotten hot here at the right time. It wasn’t like they were getting blown out during the season. They had a lot of close ballgames.
“We hit a lot of balls tonight right at them,” Smith said. “We also looked at three or four called third strikes. (Anderson) is a nice pitcher. We knew he was. They took a chance Monday night throwing their No. 2 and No. 3 pitchers. It paid off for them. Hats off to (Anderson). He kept us off-balance all night. When we did hit him, we hit him hard.
“Darby and Austin both threw the ball well,” Smith said. “We made a couple of fielding mistakes behind them. In four of our six losses, when we’ve made those mistakes, we’ve come up on the losing end. The other two, we just got beat.”
Smith spoke about the Panthers’ four seniors.
“Darby and Brady have been on the varsity for four years,” Smith said. “Heath’s been up here for three years and so has Dylan.
“It’s always hard,” Smith said. “I’ve been in this business a long time and (saying good-bye to the seniors) doesn’t get any easier each year. It’s tough on the seniors, too.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group,” Smith said. “If you would have told us early in the year, after the first league game when we got hammered pretty good by Chillicothe that we would come back and have a very successful season. A lot of people would have said there was no way we would play as well as we did, and with the weather and stuff.
“It’s hard tonight,” Smith said. “But, there are only going to be four high school teams in Ohio that don’t lose their last game.”
Logan Elm took a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first.
The Braves scored again in the third to go in front, 2-0.
The Panthers scored two in the bottom of the third to tie the game.
Mathews walked with one out and Drew Batson scored him with a double. Batson also scored in the inning.
The Braves scored two in the fifth and one in the sixth for a 5-2 lead.
The Panthers rallied in the bottom of the seventh.
Mathews walked and Wallace hit a single.
Batson reached on an error that allowed Mathews to score.
Gilmore reached when his fly ball was dropped in the outfield.
With the bases loaded and one out, the next two Panthers were retired to end the game.
Notes: Miami Trace senior Brady Wallace was named the Frontier Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year for 2018.
Seniors Heath Cockerill and Drew Batson were also named First Team, All-Conference. They will be honored at the FAC’s spring sports banquet, where the Panthers will also receive their trophy for their co-championship, on May 21 at Grace Community Church.
Offensively for Miami Trace: Brady Wallace, 1-4; Drew Batson, 1-3, 1 run, 1 2b, 1 rbi; Josh Gilmore, 3-4, 1 rbi; Heath Cockerill, 1-4; Cody Brightman, 0-4; Austin Brown, 0-2; Mason Snow, 1-1; Dalton Mayer, 1-3; Gavin Taulbee, 0-3; Austin Mathews, 0-1, 2 runs, 2 bb
Offensively for Logan Elm: Hayden Higgenbotham, 2 2b; Jarred Stevens, 1 2b; Tyler Pontious, 1 hit; Jonah Platts, 2 hits (1 2b).
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