MINFORD – Minford will begin defense of its Southeast District Title on Friday at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe.
The Falcons wrapped up a Division III, Southeast II Sectional Title and, in the process, its third straight trip to the District Tournament with a 6-0 win over Paint Valley on Saturday afternoon in Minford.
Over the past two seasons, Minford has reached the finals of the District Tournament. The Falcons fell in the championship game to Meigs in 2015 and defeated Valley for the district title last year. The Falcons will face off with the Nelsonville-York Buckeyes in the Division III, Southeast II District Semifinals with a trip to a third straight district final on the line.
The Falcons were aggressive on the basepaths and used timely hitting and that aggressiveness to score runs Saturday.
“We tell our guys to keep putting the pressure on every inning,” Minford head coach Aaron Hopper said. “We did very well putting the ball in play today with very few swings and misses. Being aggressive and putting pressure on the defense (is what we try to do). Sometimes it panned out for us, and other times it didn’t. But we stayed true to the gameplan.”
Minford didn’t wait too long to put a crooked number in the runs column. Nathan McCormick led off the game with a single, advanced to second a Darius Jordan sacrifice, scampered to third on wild pitch and was plated on a two out RBI hit by Matthew Gullett. Gullett stole second base and was brought around on a Luke Lindamood RBI single to give Minford a 2-0 advantage.
In the third frame, Minford added an insurance run. Jacob McCaleb helped his own cause by drawing a one-out walk. Moments later, the senior pitcher stole second and later scored on an infield error by Paint Valley first baseman Bryce Newland. McCaleb drove in two more runs as a part of a three-run sixth inning for the Falcons.
McCaleb went 1-for-3 at the dish, scoring twice and driving in a pair of runs. On the hill, McCaleb was simply masterful, as the senior fanned 11 batters and walked only one while going the distance.
“I felt like I had all my pitches working for me,” McCaleb said. “I was able to stay in the zone, and I had great defense helping me out the whole way too. So I really couldn’t have done it without everybody helping me. I was pitching to contact and they were making the plays,” added McCaleb. “So I owe it all to them.”