The Miami Trace Panthers varsity baseball team has little margin for error as they stay atop the Frontier Athletic Conference standings.
The Panthers, ranked No. 2 in the State in the Division II coaches poll, entered Friday’s game at Washington High School with an FAC record of 7-1, tied with Jackson for first place.
Friday’s game, played under sunny skies with a strong wind blowing in from the north, was made even more challenging as the two teams sent arguably their best pitchers to the mound.
The Panthers broke open a scoreless tie with three runs in the top of the sixth inning to defeat Washington, 3-0.
Conner Bucher started for the Panthers and pitched a complete game, one-hitter. He struck out eight and walked three.
Titus Lotz started and took the loss for Washington. He pitched six innings with five hits and three runs (all earned). He struck out 12 and walked one.
Tanner Lemaster pitched one inning with two strikeouts and one walk.
The tension built until the Panthers came to bat in the sixth inning.
With one out, Bucher singled to center.
Hunter McBee singled with Bucher stopping at second.
Bucher stole third and scored on an error on the play.
Braden Osborne walked and Gabe Campagna singled, scoring McBee and Osborne.
John Wall had Washington’s only hit in the game, a single to left field in the bottom of the first.
Both teams left four runners on base and both teams committed one error.
“Our thoughts turn to Tuesday,” Miami Trace head coach Rob Smith said. “If we win Tuesday, we’ll have a co-championship. After we got beat by Jackson, it didn’t look like anybody in our league would beat them.”
Jackson beat Miami Trace, 13-1 and Miami Trace beat Jackson, 7-2.
“My hat’s off to Titus Lotz,” Smith said. “He’s a heck of a pitcher. I knew it was going to be a game like this. It’s always a good game when we play Court House.
“All of our pitchers have pitched well, but Conner has really come through for us this year,” Smith said. “This game was pitch to pitch, clear up to the sixth inning. That’s what you want in a rivalry game like this. The conditions weren’t the greatest with the wind.”
“Titus was phenomenal tonight,” Washington head coach Mark Schwartz said. “He was on tonight. He’s been on twice against these guys.
“Conner Bucher pitched phenomenal, too,” Schwartz said. “He’s a good pitcher.”
The Panthers (16-1 overall, 8-1 in the FAC) will host McClain Tuesday at 5 p.m. A win in that game will clinch a co-championship with Jackson.
The Blue Lions (7-12 overall, 3-6 FAC) will complete conference play Wednesday at Hillsboro at 5 p.m.
MT 000 003 0 — 3 5 1
W 000 000 0 — 0 1 1
Offensively for Miami Trace: Conner Bucher, 1-4, 1 run, 1 sb; Hunter McBee, 2-3, 1 run 1 sb; Josh Gilmore, 0-3; Braden Osborne, 0-2, 1 run, 1 bb; Gabe Campagna, 1-3, 2 RBI; Dylan Bernard, 1-3, 2 RBI; Luke Henry, 0-2, sac; Wes May, 0-3; Ashton Connell, 0-2, 1 bb. LOB: 4.
Offensively for Washington: A.J. Dallmayer, 0-3, fc; John Wall, 1-3, fc; Titus Lotz, 0-3, fc; Tyler Tackage, 0-3; Jonah Waters, 0-3; Tanner Lemaster, 0-3; Braydon Kettles, 0-3; Evan Lynch, 0-1, 1 bb; Owen Mullins, 0-0. LOB: 4