The 10U Batesville Bats won the Ohio USSSA AAA (Major/Open) State Championship this past weekend at the Flash Fields in Hammersville, OH in thrilling fashion, 5-4, over the Bo Jackson Elite Black Sox from Columbus, OH. Entering the contest as the home team due to being the higher seed, 3 vs. 4, the Bats won on a walk off bases loaded base on balls by Preston Blessing to score Caleb Mohr to claim the State Championship.
The first inning defensively was huge for the hometown Bats. Following a one out base on balls, Brayden Maple gunned down the two hitter trying to steal 2nd base. Following another walk and a single, the squad was able to avoid a deficit by turning a bobbled infield hit into an inning ending play at the plate in which Blessing pivoted strongly from the throw to Maple at the plate to gun down the 3 hitter trying to score to set up a crucial at bat by the youngsters.
The squad got off to a fast start offensively as well scoring 4 in the first inning. The lead-off hitter, Evan Johnson, started the game with a base hit to center. Johnson stole second and scored on Brayden Maple’s double to deep left field to put the Bats ahead 1-0. Maple stole 3rd and scored on a wild pitch with 2 outs to make the score 2-0. Caleb Mohr walked, Ethan Lacey singled to right center and Rylan Yeager was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Cayden Drake. Drake’s hard line drive to center field scored two more runs giving the Bats an early cushion.
The score remained 4-0 until the Black Sox were able to score a run on a single in the 4th inning making the score 4-1 and setting up the dramatic ending for the championship. Landon Raver made the greatest play of the tournament by laying out for a diving catch in right field to begin the top of the 5th inning, which the Black Sox would go away quietly afterwards in the frame.
Drake got the ball to start the contest on the mound and pitched a dandy. He was relieved to begin the 6th and final frame by Brayden Maple. With the top of the order coming to the plate for the Black Sox the squad knew the task to close would be tough. The lead-off hitter drew a walk and stole second. Maple was able to entice the 2 hitter to fly out to short stop. The 3 hitter singled to left center to cut the score in half 4-2. Following a strike out the 5 hitter singled to right to tighten the margin to 4-3. After the 5 hitter stole second, a bloop single to right center tied the contest before Maple was able to get the 7 hitter to ground out pitcher to first.
In the home half of the inning the Bats knew one run would earn them the championship rings. Mohr led off the inning with a solid base hit to left center. Ethan Lacey followed him up with an infield single. Both runners advanced a base with one out on passed ball by the Black Sox catcher. With strategy in mind, the Black Sox manager elected to walk Drake intentionally to load the bases with one out. Blessing worked the count to 3-1 before taking ball 4 to advance Mohr across the plate and secure the squad their 3rd state title in as many seasons and set off the Batesville celebration.
Drake was solid on the hill going 5 innings, allowing 3 hits, striking out 3 and only allowing one earned run. Maple earned the victory with two innings of relief and following a fantastic showing behind the plate. Offensively, Johnson, Mohr, Dane Dudley and Lacey each had two hits to compliment a great team effort of 10 hits. Drake had 2 RBI’s to help support his solid work on the mound.
In the semi-final on Saturday the squad was able to gain redemption against a solid squad, the Babe Stearn Scrappers from Canton, OH in a thrilling fashion one run game once again, 9-8. The Bats plated 6 runs in the first inning and held the lead until the bottom of the 3rd when the Scrappers took an 8-6 lead. With the time limit coming to an end and a now or never senario, Johnson led the inning off with a base on balls, stole second and scored on Maple’s base hit to left. Maple was able to steal 3rd and score on a wild pitch to tie the score.
After the lead-off hitter walked, Lacy was brought on in relief. In critical fashion Maple gunned the baserunner down trying to steal second base for the first out of the inning. Following two bases on balls the 3 hitter grounded out to Mohr at second on a put out to first. The Bats Manager, Drake, elected to intentionally walk the solid Scrapper 4 hitter to load the bases with two outs. On a 2-2 count and with ice water running through his veins, Lacey was able to entice the 5 hitter to ground out to Mohr once again to set the stage for the dramatic finish.
Rylan Yeager led the inning off for the Bats with a base on balls. He stole 2nd and 3rd and was able to score the game winning run on a wild pitch. Following a strike out to begin the home half of the 5th, a base on balls put the 7 hitter on for the Canton, OH team. Maple gunned the runner out on a steal attempt to place the Bats one out away from the title contest. Following two outs and with bases loaded the 1 hitter flew out to Raver in right field to send the Batesville fans into jubilation and a chance at the Ohio State Crown on Sunday.
The tournament began on Thursday night with pool play against the Scrappers from Canton, OH. In what was untypical fashion of the youngsters, numerous errors, lack of hitting and solid play from the competition resulted in a 15-3 loss.
Following a team pow-wow after the loss, the team was able to rebound with a solid team effort and escape with a 7-1 win over the Diamond Boys from Cleveland, OH on Friday afternoon to earn the 3 seed going into Saturday’s semi-final.
For the tournament, the Bats were led in hitting by Mohr with a .571 batting average; Dane Dudley hit .455, while Maple and Lacey each hit .400. Perhaps most impressive was the fact the squad sent 9 different pitchers to the mound during the tournament with Mohr, Dudley, Lacey and Noah Weigel not allowing any runs.
The squad will next be in action next Saturday at Greensburg, followed by the Indiana USSSA AAA State tournament the weekend after in Indianapolis.
Congratulations to a fine group of young men, coaches and parents on bringing home to Batesville their 3rd State Championship in as many years!