Troy baseball battles Mason before losing 5-0 in D-I district final


CENTERVILLE — With the change in the number of divisions for baseball next spring, it is a matchup you probably won’t see again.

But, the Troy baseball team didn’t back down playing a much larger school in Mason in a D-I district final at Centerville High School.

As this team has done all season, the Trojans surpassed expectations and battled to the end in a 5-0 loss.

Troy closes the season with a 22-8 record, while Mason improves to 24-6.

“To get back down here to the same game we got to last year after graduating 16 seniors — nobody expected that,” Troy baseball coach Ty Welker said. “And win the same amount of games as we did last year. We have nothing to feel bad about.”

Particularly Caleb Akins.

In his final high school game, he limited Mason to five hits, striking out seven and walking five in six innings of work. Liam Evilsizor pitched the seventh and did not allow a hit.

“Caleb (Akins) just kept battling out there,” Welker said. “That is the way he has been since he was a freshman. Last year, we had nine guys who could throw so he was throwing on Saturday’s for us. He worked hard and earned the number two spot this year. He has nothing to feel bad about. If we had another game coming up, I wouldn’t hesitate to give him the ball.”

Mason scored two runs in first and third, with Comet pitcher Jacob Hanley hitting solo home runs in both innings.

“There are probably two pitches Caleb (Akins) would like to have back,” Welker said. “But, Jacob Hanley is one of the best players in the state.”

And he was just as difficult to deal with on the mound.

Hanely pitched a one-hitter throwining 88 pitches, with Troy’s only hit being an infield single by Matthew Hempker. Hanley struck out nine and walked two.

“He is a pretty good pitcher too,” Welker said. “But, I thought our kids battled up there the whole game and did a good job of making contact.”

Another highlight was the play of freshman catcher Brody Hoke.

“We had two freshman out there in catcher Brody Hoke and third baseman Brady O’Leary,” Welker said. “I know they have never played in a game this big with crowds like this. This a brand new experience for the them. For Brody (Hoke) to go out there and throw to runners out stealing, that is impressive.”

As the Trojans battled from start to finish.

Troy 2,

Beavercreek 1

BEAVERCREEK — Troy was coming off a 2-1 win over Beavercreek Tuesday in the district semifinal game.

“Let’s put it like this,” Troy baseball coach Ty Welker said. “We graduated 16 seniors last year and we have 16 kids on the roaster this year. It is a credit to the kids. They really put the work in. There has been a lot of coaching, but the work started in the winter. I give them (pointing to his team in the dugout) all the credit.”

And it came down to the last pitch as Troy starter Nathan McDowell and reliever Caleb Akins in the seventh — battled out of difficult situations all night.

Beavercreek had eight runners in scoring position in the game — six with less than two out — and managed just one run off McDowell — who showed a Houdini like escape ability that shows maturity beyond his years for the freshman.

“That just shows how tough he is mentally,” Welker said. “He is a freshman, but he really isn’t.

It started in the first inning, when an error put a Beavercreek runner on third with one out — but McDowell answered with two strikeouts.

And it continued into the seventh with Akins.

Ethan Papalios singled and moved to second on Parker Shannon’s sacrifice bunt with one out.

Owen Roether hit a rocket that Troy third baseman Brady O’Leary fielded on one hop and Akins got a called third strike to end the game.

“That was a great play by Brady O’Leary at third, he is another freshman,” Welker said. “We have three freshman starting — really four if you count Jake Reinhardt.”

Roether pitched for the Beavers and retired the first 12 batters, before Troy broke through with a run in the fifth.

Hayden Frey led off with a double and Matthew Hempker followed with a RBI single to make it 1-0.

“Hayden (Frey) has been clutch for us all year,” Welker said. “And then a big hit by Matt (Matthew Hempker).”

Beavercreek tied the game in the home fifth when Roether was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a run.

Troy would again answer in the sixth when Evan Kaiser had a leadoff double and Brody Hoke sacrifice him to third.

Aidan Gorman — who had two rough at bats to start the game — found himself down 0-2 in the count for a third straight time.

But, this time, he delivered what would be a game-winning double to score Kaiser.

“Aidan wears his emotions on his sleeve,” Welker said. “He is hard on himself. I know he was upset about getting picked off (after the big hit), but he had a huge hit and takes care of centerfield for us.”

In the home sixth inning, Beavercreek threatened to tie it.

Pinch-hitter Ethan Kuhn had a leadoff single and Tyler Back re-entered to run and stole second.

Elijah Papilois hit a ball that looked like it go for extra bases, but Kaiser made a diving catch in right field to end the inning.

“That was the catch of the year out there by Evan Kaiser,” Welker said.

McDowell and Akins combined on a five-hitter, striking out eight, hitting two battrers and walking three.

Roether pitched a five-hitter for Beavercreek, striking out seven and walking one.

“Nathan (McDowell, who threw 104 pitches) probably would have went out there for the seventh if I left him,” Welker said. “I have probably mentioned every kid talking to you. It was a tremendous team effort. It was everybody tonight.”

And that hard work was rewarded with a return trip to the D-I district title game.

Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at [email protected]

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