The Miami Trace Panthers, the No. 1 baseball team in Division II in the state coaches poll for the second week in a row, began its 2021 tournament with a home game against Logan Elm Tuesday, May 18.
The Panthers trailed briefly, 1-0 and took a 5-1 lead before holding on at the end to post a 5-4 victory over the Braves.
Conner Bucher got the start for the Panthers. He pitched six innings with three hits and one run (it was unearned) with five strikeouts, two walks and two hit batsmen. He got the victory.
Gabe Campagna came on to pitch in the top of the seventh. He walked three batters and allowed three runs (two earned).
Wes May came in and pitched one inning to notch the save. He walked one batter.
Baker and Summers pitched for Logan Elm.
Baker started and pitched 3.1 innings with five hits and four runs (all earned) with four strikeouts and two walks. He hit one batter.
Summers pitched the final 2.2 innings with four hits and one earned run, striking out two.
Logan Elm left nine runners on base.
The win improves Miami Trace’s record to 22-1 on the season. It is a new school record for wins in a season for the Panthers’ baseball program.
In the top of the first, Wietelman was hit by a pitch.
Evans bunted into a fielder’s choice with the force out at second.
Baker reached on an error that allowed Evans to reach third.
After the second out, Chalfin was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Eplin walked, scoring Evans for the first run of the game.
In the bottom of the first, Bucher walked and stole second.
After the first out was recorded, Bucher went to third on a wild pitch.
Josh Gilmore flew out to center. It was deep enough to score Bucher and tie the game.
The game remained tied until the Panthers came to the plate in the bottom of the fourth.
With one out, Campagna singled to center.
Ashton Connell was sent in to run for him. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and Dylan Bernard walked.
Luke Henry was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Luke Zimmerman singled to center, scoring Connell.
May followed with a single to right that scored Bernard and gave Miami Trace a 3-1 lead.
Bucher singled to center, scoring Henry to make it a 4-1 game.
The Panthers scored one more run in the fifth and that turned out to make all the difference in the outcome of the game.
Osborne led off with a single to center.
He moved to second on a wild pitch and went to third on a balk.
With one out, Bernard hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring Osborne home and give the Panthers a 5-1 lead.
Henry followed with a single and pinch-runner Tate Landrum came in and stole second.
The next batter flew out to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Wietelman, Evans and Baker walked.
At this point, Campagna was lifted in favor of May.
McDonald walked, scoring Wietelman to make it 5-2, Panthers.
Chalfin hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Evans to cut Miami Trace’s lead to two runs.
Kaden Tyler, catching in the seventh for the Panthers, then threw out a Logan Elm runner trying to steal second.
Eplin reached on an error that allowed Baker to score to make it 5-4, Panthers.
The next batter grounded out to end the game.
Miami Trace will host Athens for a Division II Sectional championship Thursday at 5 p.m. Athens defeated Circleville, 2-1 Monday evening.
Head coach Rob Smith spoke about his starting pitcher, Conner Bucher.
“The thing about Butch, he was so keyed up before the game, instead of relaxing, he was out hitting and doing some little things,” Smith said. “After the sixth, he said he was exhausted, he was done.
“Gabe kind of tweaked his back on the first batter,” Smith said. “Instead of telling us, he tried to pitch through it and walked three guys.
“Luckily, Wesley May came in and got the outs that we needed,” Smith said.
“That run we scored in the fifth turned out to be very big,” Smith said of Bernard’s sacrifice fly that scored Osborne.
“We missed a sign there in the sixth where we could have gotten a guy into scoring position,” Smith said. “I told them, ‘guys, we can’t do that this late in the year in a tournament game.’
“Logan Elm has come on at the end of the year,” Smith said. The Panthers run-ruled Logan Elm 12-2 back on April 6.
“We knew this wouldn’t be an easy game, at all,” Smith said. “They ended up with 11 wins. We knew they were playing well, they were playing their best baseball. They had beaten us before in the tournament when we were a No. 1 seed.
“You have to give our kids credit,” Smith said. “We’ll be sailing along and a lot of people think, ‘well, they’re the No. 1 team, they’re going to crush people.’ That’s not the way baseball works. That would make their entire season if they come in and beat the No. 1 team in the state.
“Athens is going to come in here Thursday and they are playing very well,” Smith said. “There is no easy game. Our goal is to win the Sectional championship. If we could beat Athens, we might end up as the poll champions for the year. But, we have to win Thursday and that’s what we’re setting our sights on.”
Offensively for Miami Trace: Conner Bucher, 2-3, 1 run, 1 RBI, 1 bb, 1 sb; Hunter McBee, 0-4; Josh Gilmore, 0-2, 1 RBI, sac fly; Braden Osborne, 1-3, 1 run; Gabe Campagna, 1-3; Dylan Bernard, 1-1, 1 run, 1 RBI, 1 bb, 1 2b, sac fly; Luke Henry, 1-2, 1 run, hbp; Luke Zimmerman, 1-3, 1 RBI; Wes May, 2-3, 1 RBI; Ashton Connell, 0-0, 1 run; Tate Landrum, 0-0. LOB: 6.
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MT 100 310 x — 5 9 3