Troy Christian tourney run ends with loss to Russia in regional final


CINCINNATI — Troy Christian’s incredible tournament run came to an end against Russia in a Division IV regional final on Friday.

The Eagles stayed close until the sixth inning and fell 12-3 to the Raiders at Cincinnati Princeton High School. Russia (27-4) secured its third consecutive D-IV regional title and state berth with the win.

Troy Christian dropped to 7-14 with an 8-1 loss to Lehman Catholic in a Three Rivers Conference finale on May 13 but won four tournament games to advance to Friday’s regional final, the first three of which were shutout wins (including a 5-0 win over Lehman).

The Eagles finish 11-16 overall. They will lose five seniors to graduation: Andrew Knostman, Carson Dyer, Paul McDonald, Ryan Waltz and Camden Koukol.

Dyer and junior ace Judah Simmons powered Troy Christian through its tournament run. Simmons started in a 13-8 win over Bradford in a regional semifinal on Thursday, and Dyer started on Friday.

Dyer, who gave up one hit and struck out 10 batters in an 8-0 win over Fort Loramie in a district final last week, gave up eight earned runs on eight hits and six walks against Russia.

Dyer kept the squad in it early. Troy Christian scored two runs in the fifth to pull within 5-3, but Dyer was removed in the sixth, and the Raiders scored seven runs to run away.

Dyer hit Felix Francis with a pitch to start the sixth, then walked Braylon Cordonnier. Brayden Monnin hit a line-drive single to center to drive in one run, then Hayden Quinter hit an RBI single on a grounder to short stop to push the gap to 7-3.

Troy Christian took out Dyer and put in McDonald, who walked Counts. With Zeb Schulze at the plate, Monnin scored on a passed ball, just beating Koukol, who chased down the ball behind the plate and dove back. Quinter then scored on a wild pitch to push the gap to 9-3.

Troy Christian then put in Knostman, who walked Micah Grieshop and Felix Francis to push across two runs. Cordonnier hit a sacrifice fly to push across a run, then Brayden Monnin hit into a ground out to end the inning.

The Eagles had five hits and committed one error, and Russia had eight hits and committed one error.

Both Dyer and Russia starter Jude Counts struggled early with what appeared to be a tight strike zone. The Eagles left the bases loaded in the first after two walks and a single, and Russia left two on after a single and a walk in the bottom half.

Troy Christian scored one in the top of the second. Jacob Grossnickle hit a line-drive triple along the right-field line with one out, then Knostman drew a walk. Grossnickle scored on a passed ball, but Counts struck out the next two batters to end the threat.

Ben Rinderle and Cooper Unverferth each drew walks in the bottom of the second, then Grieshop hit a single on a grounder to right to load the bases. Francis hit a 2-RBI single on a hard ground ball to left to give Russia a 2-1 lead. Dyer struck out Cordonnier and drew a ground out by Monnin to end the inning.

The Eagles went down in order in the third, and Russia scored one in the bottom half. Counts hit a single on a line drive to left. Schulze hit a hard ground ball right to Marcus O’Neal at third, and O’Neal fell down after fielding it. His throw to first was late, and Simmons threw it back to third as Counts advanced.

No one covered third, and Counts scored on the error to give the Raiders a 3-1 lead.

The Raiders added two runs in the fourth. Francis hit a one-out double on a line drive to left, then Cordonnier drew a walk. Monnin then was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Quinter hit into a fielder’s choice on a hard ground ball to shortstop, which drove across a run and increased the lead to 4-1.

With Counts at the plate, Quinter went off first base and coaxed a throw to second, and Cordonnier ran in from third to push the lead to 5-1.

The Eagles scored two runs on three hits and two walks in the fifth to cut the gap to two runs, but left the bases loaded.

Will Twiss drew a walk from Rinderle, who was brought in in the fourth to relieve Counts. Camden Koukol hit a single on a hard ground ball to center field, then Simmons hit an RBI single on a ground ball to right to cut the deficit to 5-2.

O’Neal hit an infield pop out, then McDonald hit an RBI single on a grounder to left to cut the gap to 5-3. Ryan Waltz then drew a walk, after which the Raiders replaced Rinderle on the mound with Monnin.

With the bases loaded, Monnin struck out Grossnickle to end the threat.

Russia went down in order in the fifth and the Eagles stranded one in the sixth. The Raiders pulled away in the bottom half of the sixth.

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