CHILLICOTHE — When he looks back at the regular season portion of South Webster’s 2017 campaign, Ryan McClintic doesn’t hesitate in telling people that the South Webster Jeeps didn’t have the finish that they were hoping to have in the regular season.
However, McClintic has continued to preach to his unit about turning the page.
And over the first two games of the postseason, that message has been relayed into two of the biggest wins of the year for South Webster.
Despite an excellent effort from a gritty Green Bobcats’ unit that not only came into the contest on the verge of 20 wins, but had obtained an 8-4 victory over South Webster back in April, the Jeeps not only flipped the script in the rematch between the pair in a Division IV, Southeast II District Semifinal at VA Memorial Stadium, but continued to turn the page.
Indeed, the Jeeps will have a chance to write a new chapter as Bradley Gee’s complete game performance on the hill, along with a 3-for-4, three-RBI day from fellow senior Trevor Coriell, allowed South Webster to take home a 6-3 victory over Green as the Jeeps advanced to Wednesday’s Division IV, Southeast II District matchup against Notre Dame on Tuesday.
For McClintic, the result isn’t a surprise considering how unified his South Webster roster has been as far as
“We’ve said all along that we didn’t have the regular season that we wanted to,” McClintic said. “However, that doesn’t matter at this point. The real goal was to be playing the best baseball that we could at the end of the year, and I think that we’re doing that. We’re also having the most fun, which, when you put those factors together, usually makes for a pretty good result. But we’re not satisfied. We’ve still got a job to do. We’ll enjoy it for the rest of the night, and tomorrow, we’ll be focused on getting ready for the district championship.”
However, even though Green’s magical 2017 season came to an abrupt end on Tuesday evening, Dan McDavid couldn’t find anything to qualm about.
“That was a baseball game,” McDavid said. “There were numerous times where we were one hit away from taking the lead or tying the game. Jacob Ruth made one or two great plays for South Webster. It was a baseball game. Sometimes you win them, sometimes you don’t.”
And it certainly was, indeed, a baseball game.
After a deep flyout to left by Alek Blevins, South Webster wasted no time painting the scoreboard, as Shane Zimmerman launched a one-out double all the way to the right field fence. Trevor Coriell then followed Zimmerman’s efforts by blasting a pitch to left center field. With the well-hit ball rolling into the deepest part of the ballpark, Zimmerman was able to score standing up, and Coriell was able to reach third base with a RBI triple. Coriell then scored on another double to right field by Jacob Ruth as the Jeeps took a 2-0 lead after the first half-inning of play.
“That’s been the big change for us towards the end of the year,” McClintic said. “It’s not just been a couple of guys, it’s been everybody. That’s what you need if you’re going to make it to a district championship or win a district championship. You’ve got to have contributions all up and down the lineup, and we’ve been having that. Jacob, Matthew (Shonkwiler), and Trevor did a great job at getting timely hits. It was great to see, and that was the difference.”
Green, however, wasn’t phased. Tanner Kimbler’s infield single — where the sophomore beat out a nice diving stop and throw by Zimmerman — was followed by Trevor Carver’s two-out RBI double, which was ripped to right center, to allow the Bobcats to cut the deficit in half, 2-1, after an inning of play.
“Trevor has done everything that we’ve asked of him over the last four years,” McDavid said of Carver’s performance, where the senior went 3-for-4 with three RBI. “He’s one of those guys that you don’t replace, you just have try to find someone to put in that place. Trevor’s just a great kid. He had a great ballgame.”
Over the next two innings, both units combined to put three runners in scoring position as Green and South Webster continued to see the ball well at the dish.
However, the effective pitching and defensive efforts from both teams kept the Bobcats and the Jeeps from denting the scoreboard.
That is, until the fourth inning of play.
Jacob Ruth, who proved to be a catalyst all game for South Webster from his third base position, put his own stamp on the game in the middle innings. First, the sophomore’s leadoff single set the table for Troy Boggs to lay down a well-placed sacrifice bunt. Then, the sophomore scored on a RBI base knock from Matthew Shonkwiler to give the Jeeps a 3-1 advantage.
Last, but certainly not least, Ruth came back in the bottom of the fifth by making a dandy play, as the multi-sport standout not only dove to rob Kimbler of a base hit to left field, but had the presence of mind to throw the ball to second, which nabbed Clark in the process.
“We had no physical errors, but we did have a few mental lapses out there,” McClintic said. “However, we came back from them. That’s the difference with our team now as compared to the beginning of the season. We’re able to put that behind us and move on. You have to in baseball. You have to turn the page and focus on the next play. We made some really nice plays tonight that, if they aren’t made, allow Green to change the momentum of the contest.”
Green, however, stayed in the gas, even following the dandy play by Ruth. In fact, back-to-back singles to right field by the Carver brothers — Tayte and Trevor — allowed the Bobcats to close the gap to a 3-2 margin.
“Chase Clark had a couple of hits tonight and did really well, Tanner hit the ball well, and Tayte put together some great at-bats,” McDavid said. “We had 11 hits, so we did alright. “South Webster’s got a nice ballclub. It was a good baseball game. Guys up and down our lineup hit the ball.”
However, Ruth’s play proved to be huge as the RBI single by Trevor Carver in the bottom of the fifth was the only run that the Bobcats plated despite the fact that Green carved out three hits in the fifth inning alone.
And in the sixth, South Webster used that outlook to seal the deal.
After a walk by Garrett Ruth and a hit batsman allowed South Webster to put Ruth and Blake Fulk on, Alek Blevins laid down a sacrifice bunt that the senior ended up being safe on thanks to the hustle from the three-sport athlete. Coriell then delivered the goods again by driving in Ruth and Fulk, and in hustling over to third base, Blevins forced an infield error on the same play, which allowed the Jeeps to plate three crucial runs in one sequence.
From there, it was all Gee.
Despite allowing seven hits over the final three innings of play, the senior never lost his composure on the mound. A Rylee Maynard walk, a single by Clark, and another base knock by Kimbler allowed the Bobcats to cut the gap to a 6-3 margin, and in the following frame, singles by Trevor Carver and Bryce Ponn, along with a 1-3 groundout, allowed Green to put Ponn and Carver on second and third with two gone in the bottom of the seventh. However, Gee responded by striking out Drew Ramey, and with his complete game performance that included eight strikeouts, South Webster was able to claim the 6-3 victory.
“It wasn’t Brad’s best pitching performance on the mound, but sometimes, you’ve just got to grind it out,” McClintic said. “It was one of those efforts that you get from a senior where everybody knows that he’ll grind it out and give us enough to win while securing the fact that we don’t have to use anybody else. Now, everybody else is healthy for us tomorrow on the mound, and we can go to the bullpen if we need to. He just grinded one out for us. I’m proud of him.”
For South Webster, it’s onto the Division IV, Southeast I District Finals, where a bout with fellow Scioto County hand Notre Dame awaits. The winner advances to the Division IV, Region 15 Semifinals on Thursday evening, which will be held in Lancaster.
“Notre Dame’s been a good team for a lot of years, just like we have,” McClintic said. “We have paid very close attention to them, and they play a very good brand of baseball. It’s going to be a challenge, but we’ll show up and be ready to play.”
As for the Bobcats, Green will see five seniors depart from a unit that finished 19-6 last year. Trevor Carver, along with Austin Bailey, Dawson Blevins, Tyler Darnell, and Tyler Imes, all made excellent contributions to a team that went 12-0 in SOC I play and took home the Bobcats’ first conference title in six years.
“Trevor, Tyler Darnell, Tyler Imes, Dawson Blevins, and Austin Bailey all contributed to our team in a strong manner,” McDavid said. “I wish that I could’ve gotten them all out there on the field, but they knew their roles. We love them all and we appreciate everything they’ve done. We’re going to miss all five of them.”