ATHENS — The Washington Blue Lions squared off against the Circleville Tigers in a Division II District semifinal baseball game Monday at Bob Wren Stadium on the campus of Ohio University.
It quickly settled into a pitcher’s duel between Washington’s Titus Lotz and Circleville’s Nick Burns.
Circleville threatened to score, or at least had runners on base, in each of the first six innings.
Washington broke the deadlock with the first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth.
Circleville tied the game in the top of the sixth, only to see Washington come back and score the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
The Blue Lions’ 2-1 victory over the Tigers improves their season record to 17-5 and advances them to the District championship game back in Athens at 5 p.m. The Blue Lions will take on Sheridan. The Generals defeated the Unioto Shermans in the second game Monday, 6-1.
Lotz pitched the first six innings for Washington with four hits and one unearned run. He walked four and struck out nine.
A.J. Dallmayer got the win in relief, pitching a 1-2-3 seventh inning, striking out the side. It was the first time in the game that Circleville went up and down in order.
Burns pitched 6.2 innings for Circleville, suffering the loss. He allowed five hits and two runs (one earned) with one walk and four strikeouts.
With the game tied in the bottom of the seventh, Washington sent Jonah Waters to the plate to lead off.
He delivered a ground single to left field.
R.J. Foose was sent in as a pinch-runner for the catcher, Waters.
John Wall followed with a sacrifice bunt to move Foose up to second base.
With Foose running on contact, Bryce Yeazel hit a ground ball to shortstop. The play was made at first base, with Foose at third and two away.
Evan Lynch was at the plate for the Blue Lions when a pitch got past the catcher, allowing Foose to score the game-winning run.
“Luckily we were able to survive those (errors),” Washington head coach Mark Schwartz said.
Trailing 1-0, Circleville tied the game in the top of the sixth with a lead-off hit by Austin Gray.
Two ground outs later, a passed ball and a throwing error allowed pinch-runner Parker Kidwell to score the tying run.
Washington had two errors in the game, while Circleville played error-free baseball.
“Hats off to Titus, he pitched a heck of a game,” Schwartz said. “Titus hasn’t had his best stuff this year. He battled out of some jams early.”
Circleville threatened right at the start, with a bunt, an error, and infield hit and a walk loading the bases. Lotz got the strikeout of the Tigers’ batter to leave the bases loaded.
After the Blue Lions went out in order in the bottom of the first, Circleville had back-to-back one out walks.
A ball hit back to Lotz resulted in a force at third and again, Lotz struck out the next batter to end that threat.
Tyler Tackage had a single to left field and Wall walked, but those runners were stranded in the second for Washington.
Circleville left one runner on base in the third and Washington went out in order in the bottom of the third.
Circleville left two more runners on base in the fourth inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Lotz had an infield hit, Dallmayer drilled a single to left and Tanner Lemaster had an infield hit to load the bases with no outs.
Tackage hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Lotz with the game’s first run.
There was a ground out and a walk to Wall, but the next batter flew out to end the inning.
Circleville had a base runner reach third in the top of the fifth.
It appeared to be a type of squeeze play as suddenly the runner broke for home. There was no contact made by the batter and the runner tried to get back to third, but was tagged out by Bryce Yeazel on the throw from Waters.
Washington went out in order in the fifth.
In the sixth for the Tigers, Gray led off with a single and the next two batters grounded out. A throwing error on Washington allowed pinch-runner Kidwell to score to tie the game.
Washington went out in order in the sixth and Circleville went down with three strikeouts by Dallmayer in the top of the seventh, setting the stage for the dramatic, walk-off victory.
“It’s nice to have somebody like A.J. to come in out of the bullpen and throw gas and get those three quick outs,” Schwartz said. “He just had to rare back and throw and not many people are going to catch up with him.
“We have to come out tomorrow (Tuesday) and have a good practice and get ready for Wednesday,” Schwartz said. “These two teams (Sheridan and Unioto) are really good.”
Wyatt Thatcher had two hits for Circleville (who finishes the season 16-12) and Matt Bradley and Austin Gray each had one.
Lotz, Dallmayer, Lemaster, Tackage and Waters each had one hit for Washington.
C 000 001 0 — 1 4 0
W 000 100 1 — 2 5 2