CHILLICOTHE — Throughout the season, one can only hope for special memories — whether the season ends in victory or defeat.
And despite their season-ending loss to the Waterford Wildcats’ baseball program in the Division IV, Chillicothe II District Semifinals, Dan McDavid and the Green Bobcats’ baseball program knew that they could look back on what they accomplished with a sense of pride.
An 18-6 overall record. An 11-1 SOC I record that allowed Green to collect back-to-back championships in conference play. And another appearance at VA Memorial Stadium — with just one senior starter in its main group.
So this minor setback? It is what it is, according to McDavid.
“We had a great season,” McDavid said. “We won the league and we won a sectional championship. We just played a baseball game out here and got beat. It happens.”
Over the initial three innings of play, however, Green was right in the thick of the fight.
Tanner Kimbler — who entered Tuesday evening’s contest with a 0.84 ERA and had an insane 54 strikeouts to just three walks for the year — continued his strong effort by not allowing an earned run and striking out five batters while walking none in six innings of work to finish the year with a ridiculous 19.66-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio for the 2018 campaign. His efforts through the first three frames of action on Tuesday ultimately allowed Green to strike the scoreboard first as Tayte Carver collected his second hit of the contest, then came around to score on a Mason Barber grounder that was misplayed in the infield as the Bobcats took a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth frame.
“Tanner pitched a nice ballgame,” McDavid said. “He always throws a good ballgame on the mound. It wasn’t a softball game, by any means.”
Unfortunately, Green’s lead, however, wouldn’t last.
In the bottom of the fourth frame, Bryce Hilverding’s single and an error put Waterford in business, but after a single to right field by Andrew Harra-Baker, Hilverding wasn’t sent home, and in their efforts to return to their respective bases, Harra-Baker was gunned down in his retreat by Eli Webb, who recorded the 9-3 putout.
However, the momentum gathered from the play wouldn’t last. With two down in the frame, Zane Heiss launched a triple to center field, and after advancing to third on the hit, scored on an error in the same sequence as Waterford ultimately took a 3-1 lead after four innings of work.
“We could’ve played a little bit better,” McDavid said. “VA Memorial Stadium is kind of a strange place to play. If you’re an outfielder and you play in, you take a chance with the ball getting through the gap, but if you play back, a flare can hurt you. All in all, our kids played good. Waterford took advantage of their opportunities and put three across, and all we could put across was one.”
In the seventh inning, however, Green put the pressure on Waterford, much like Trimble did to Clay the night before. Behind two walks and a hit batsmen, the Bobcats put Kimbler — the team’s best hitter coming into the game with a .556 average and the unit’s second-best producer in the runs batted in category, with 20 — at the dish.
But unfortunately, for Green’s sake, the contest, much like Clay and Trimble the night before, ended in nearly the exact same manner. With the bases loaded, the Wildcats stayed with starting pitcher Jordan Huffman on the hill, and Huffman, who threw a complete game on the day, recorded a three-unassisted groundout to close the deal.
With the loss, the Bobcats will bid their farewells to four seniors, including Rylee Maynard, Derrick Brown, Jacob McKenzie, and Drake Moughey. Maynard, a regular who missed only one game across his entire high school career, committed only three errors at his second base assignment throughout the entirety of his four years at the position.
“We lose four great seniors , and they were all very integral to our success, with Rylee starting at second base,” McDavid said. “However, we’re also looking forward to next year at the same time. We’ve got eight starters coming back, and we’re looking for that ninth. We’ll reload and go at it again. We had a great season with a great group of kids. We’ll be back next year.”
Waterford, who improved to 15-10 on the year with the victory, will face the state’s No. 2-ranked unit, Mowrystown Whiteoak, on Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT