WEST CARROLLTON — The moment the Washington C.H. 12-year-old all-stars had been waiting for was some four years in the making.
They started together as 9-year-olds and on Saturday, the team achieved its long-held goal of qualifying to the State Little League tournament with a 10-6 win over their District 8 rivals, Eaton.
Washington C.H. began the tournament last Wednesday with a come-from-behind 10-8 win over Eaton at Eaton.
The all-stars followed that with a 31-7 home win in four innings over Moraine-West Carrollton on Thursday.
On Friday, Washington defeated Enon, 15-5 in five innings in the District 8 semifinals at West Carrollton.
Saturday’s game was another come-from-behind win for the all-stars.
On Saturday, Eaton greeted Washington’s starting pitcher, Hugh Silberman, rather rudely, with seven consecutive singles, totalling five runs.
Silberman did not let that bother him as he later smacked a home run and turned a game-ending unassisted double play at first base.
Conner Bucher pitched the next five innings for Washington, to get the victory.
Bucher allowed one run on three hits. He walked two and struck out six.
Silberman allowed five runs on seven hits with one walk.
At the plate, Washington collected just six hits to 10 for Eaton.
Washington took advantage of six Eaton errors while committing just one miscue.
Bucher went 2 for 4 with a double and one run scored for Washington.
Silberman was 2 for 3 with a solo home run and two runs scored.
Drew Ferguson had one hit and drove in two runs.
Karson Runk walked twice and scored twice.
Brayden May walked and reached on an error and scored twice.
After spotting Eaton five runs in the top of the first, Washington began its comeback with a run in the bottom of the first.
With one out, Runk walked and went to second on a wild pitch.
Runk scored when Weston Melvin reached on an error.
After Eaton went out in order in the top of the second, Washington rallied for eight runs in the bottom of the second.
Washington sent 14 batters to the plate in the second, as Eaton used starting pitcher Dawson Blaylock, then Brady Davis, who suffered the loss and Matt Toller.
Brayden May started the inning off by reaching on an error.
With one away, Bucher hit a double.
Runk walked and Melvin walked, forcing in May to make it 5-2.
Drew Ferguson singled, scoring Bucher and Runk.
Melvin scored on an error on the play to tie the game, 5-5.
This necessitated the first pitching change for Eaton, with Davis coming in for Blaylock.
Braden Osborne walked and Silberman followed with a single that scored Dylan Grove, who was sent in as a pinch-runner for Ferguson.
Osborne also scored later on that play on an error that gave Washington a 7-5 lead.
Evan Weaver reached on an error that scored Silberman to make it 8-5.
At that point, Davis was lifted for Toller, who came in to face May.
May singled and after a walk to Alex Boles, May later scored on a wild pitch to make it 9-5.
Eaton scored what turned out to be its last run of the game in the top of the third.
A fourth pitcher for Eaton, Theo Winnings, pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the third, striking out the Washington side.
Eaton began the top of the fourth with a single and a double.
However, the next batter popped out on the infield and the following batter hit into a double play to squelch that threat.
As Hugh Silberman stepped to the plate, his mother could be heard exhorting her son to hit a home run.
Seconds later, Silberman drilled a home run that made it 10-6.
Gabe Campagna reached on an error, Hayden Hunter walked and Bucher singled, but Washington ended up leaving the bases loaded.
Bucher retired the Eaton side in order in the top of the fifth.
Washington likewise went out in order in the bottom of the fifth.
Silberman ended up tying a record held by countless ball-players down through the decades as he recorded all three outs by Eaton in the top of the sixth.
The first out was a ground out to Silberman at first base.
Following an infield hit, the next batter hit a low, sinking liner that could easily have gone for extra bases.
However, Silberman snagged the low liner to his left and raced to the bag to double-off the base-runner, ending the game in fine, defensive fashion.
“They came out on fire,” Washington C.H. manager Brandon Runk said of Eaton. “They hit the ball real well.”
Runk then reflected on previous games against Eaton.
“They beat us once as 10-year-olds and twice last year,” Runk said. “They are a very good team. I think they finished fifth at the state last year.”
Runk did not want to single out any individual player for accolades.
“At the beginning of every game in this tournament, I told them it was going to take all 12 of them,” Runk said. “It really took all 15…all 12 of them and our three coaches. We were all in this together.
“We’ve been building this team for four years,” Runk said. “Now, we’re going to state.
“We’ve played Eaton three years in a row in the District finals,” Runk said. “They run-ruled us 10-0 as 10-year-olds on this same field. As 11-year-olds, they beat us in the District finals, 4-0. (The first game against Eaton last year was a 9-4 loss.)
“They’re a good group,” Runk said of his Eaton rivals. “A classy group. I like them.”
Runk kept his charges focused on the big picture Saturday morning.
“I told them after that first inning, ‘if we don’t give them any more, they’re not going to get anymore,’” Runk said. As it turned out, Eaton was held to just one run in the final five innings of the game.
“We were never out of the game,” Runk said. “We scored one in the first, but we left the bases loaded. These kids never put their heads down. They kept a good attitude and kept giving the effort the entire game. I’m ecstatic right now.”
Runk was very appreciative in his post-game comments.
“I’d like to start off by thanking (Washington C.H. Little League President) John Meriweather,” Runk said. “This is John’s last year and it was real special to win this (District title) this year. It was very important for me to get my team to state this year.
“His grandson kept the book for me all week,” Runk said. “Jaedan did a great job.” (Jaedan was also the team’s alternate player and will be going to state with his mates.)
“I can’t say enough about my coaches,” Runk said. “Roger (Boles) and I have been doing this for three or four years now. This is Brett Ferguson’s first year helping us out. He’s done a heck of a job, keeping the positive vibes in the dugout. I can’t go on without mentioning Ryan May.
“He’s been a part of this team all along,” Runk said. “I know that fence that he has to stay on the other side of was killing him. This is his team, too.”
Washington will begin state tournanament play Saturday at 2 p.m. against the District 9 champion, likely Hamilton West Side, according to John Meriweather.
Offensively for Washington C.H.: Conner Bucher, 2-4, 1 2b, 1 run; Karson Runk, 0-2, 2 bb, 2 runs; Weston Melvin, 0-2, roe, 1 bb, 1 rbi, 1 run; Drew Ferguson, 1-2, 1 bb, 2 rbi; Braden Osborne, 0-2, 2 bb, 1 run; Hugh Silberman, 2-3, 2 runs, 1 home run, 1 rbi; Evan Weaver, 0-1, roe; Brayden May, 1-1, roe, 1 bb, 2 runs; Alex Boles, 0-1, 1 bb; Dylan Grove, 0-1, 1 run; Gabe Campagna, 0-0, roe; Hayden Hunter, 0-1.
E 501 000 — 6 10 6
W 180 10x — 10 6 1
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1