CHILLICOTHE — Ethan Lauder had something happen to him Thursday evening that usually doesn’t happen to Ethan Lauder.
Pitching in a Division III district semifinal against Wellston, Lauder surrendered three straight hits and a run before recording a single out. But with pressure mounting in a big-time situation, the senior proceeded to do what he’s done all year long.
He took a deep breath and settled into a groove.
Throughout the rest of the game, Lauder surrendered just two more hits and didn’t allow a run to cross the plate. That allowed him to pick up the win while the Falcons (27-1) breezed into a district championship contest with a 12-2 victory over the Rockets at VA Memorial Stadium.
“At the beginning of the game, I was a little too gracious,” Lauder said. “I was kind of just throwing it over the plate and I wasn’t hitting spots that well. After that, I beared down a little bit and starting changing up pitches. Luckily, [Wellston] was out in front of the curveball and, when they did hit it, my defense at it up. It’s nice to know your defense is going to get to about anything that’s hit.”
Lauder certainly had plenty of help from his offense as well.
After Wellston (14-12) scored its first run, Brayden Davis drew a walk in the bottom half of the first before scoring on an inside-the-park home run off the bat of Elijah Vogelsong, putting Minford in front 2-1.
The Falcons added two more runs in the second when Bailey Rowe scored on a passed ball and Darius Jordan knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly, making it 4-1.
Then, in the bottom of the third, the dam broke.
Minford plated seven runs in the frame, scoring on a two-run double from Matthew Risner, two passed balls, an RBI groundout from Davis, and RBI singles from Jordan and Lauder.
By the time the fourth inning began, Minford had an 11-1 lead. Each team scored once more to produce the night’s final.
“These kids came out and took care of what was in front of them,” Minford coach Anthony Knittel said. “I’m proud of every one of them. They came up here and accepted the challenge against a good team. From top to bottom, I’m proud of every one of them.”
The Falcons pounded out 11 hits on the night, led by Lindamood, Risner and Lauder. Lindamood was 3-for-3 with two doubles and two runs, Risner was 2-for-3 with a run, a double and three RBIs, and Lauder ended the night 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Jordan and Vogelsong also helped out as Jordan went 1-for-2 with a run and two RBIs while Vogelsong finished 1-for-2 with a home run, two runs and two RBIs.
“We’re up there just having fun,” Lauder said. “When you’re having fun, everything comes natural. We could’ve gotten up tight tonight but we were laid back and did what we do.”
The Falcons advance to a Division III district final, where they’ll face Frankfort Adena at 11 a.m., Saturday back at VA Memorial Stadium.
Earlier in the year, Minford swept a doubleheader with the Warriors by counts of 3-2 and 10-1.
“It’s great to see the Minford community come out and support us. This is one big family. We just have to keep playing the game,” Knittel said. “It’s just a matter of relaxing and having fun, putting the pressure on, and I think we’ll be alright.”
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