MINFORD — Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis has done, and again on Monday, just about everything in his mighty Minford Falcons’ decorated career.
From an all-Ohio quarterback in football to an all-stater and key scorer in basketball and to most noteworthy a Marshall University signee in baseball, Vogelsong-Lewis looked to pin down his first career no-hitter on the diamond — and took it into the seventh inning against the Waverly Tigers and earning two outs.
Unfortunately, two Tigers broke up his no-hit bid — and even a shutout, but otherwise it was another out-of-this-world performance by the Minford standout senior.
Behind the arm, feet and bat of Vogelsong-Lewis, the Falcons forged an impressive and critical 8-1 Southern Ohio Conference Division II win over Waverly — on a beautiful baseball evening with a good crowd in attendance at the Falcons’ Nest.
As the workhorse Vogelsong-Lewis crafted a complete-game two-hitter with eight strikeouts, Minford cranked out a half-dozen second-stanza runs to break the game open —sandwiched around single points in its opening and closing at-bats.
Minford muscled a dozen hits, made only one error behind Vogelsong-Lewis, and most importantly remained tied atop the SOC II standings with Wheelersburg — with those two set for their second meeting on Friday.
Minford coach Anthony Knittel considered Monday’s mastery the Falcons’ most complete contest of the entire season so far.
“Honestly, this is the best game we’ve probably played all year,” said the coach. “Our pitching and defense has been consistent all year. But offensively, we haven’t been able to get everybody going. But this game we opened it up a little bit. That’s (hitting) something we’ve been waiting on all season. We knew what we were capable of and we knew it was there. I’m extremely proud of these kids for the way they played. Defensively, offensively, and Elijah pitching, it was a great team win all around.”
With both the Falcons (13-2, 11-1 SOC II) and Pirates (14-3, 10-1 SOC II) picking up wins on Monday, they remain with one loss apiece in the loss column —as Minford defeated Wheelersburg 6-2 in the first matchup between the two at Minford on April 9.
Friday’s much-anticipated rematch takes place at Wheelersburg — as both teams do travel for other SOC II road shows in between on Wednesday.
Waverly, which was swept by the Falcons and lost 4-0 in the two teams’ initial meeting, fell to 11-4 —and 8-3 in the division with Wheelersburg being its other league defeat.
Waverly will host Wheelersburg on Monday, as Tiger baserunners were certainly hard to come by against Minford.
Vogelsong-Lewis retired the first seven batters he faced, before walking Jase Hurd with one out in the third and J.T. Barnett reaching on an error with two away in the fourth.
Dawson Shoemaker walked to lead off the fifth, but Vogelsong-Lewis induced Peyton Harris hitting into a 6-4-3 double play.
From there, Vogelsong-Lewis retired the next four before walking Derek Eblin to lead off the seventh, but he gained the first two outs of the inning —and the no-hitter still intact.
However, Shoemaker’s shallow single to right field finished the no-no chance, and the shutout actually ended when Eblin scored on the next at-bat as Harris had an infield hit.
“Words can’t explain how proud I am of Elijah (Vogelsong-Lewis). Coming out here from the gate and competing like he did, he did great all-around,” said Knittel. “He pounded the zone, threw a lot of strikes, and had all three pitches going today. He was able to control the tempo of the game, and when they put the ball in play, he let our defense work. He didn’t feel pressure to do everything on the mound.”
Indeed, Vogelsong-Lewis and his fellow senior catcher Matthew Risner were in clear control —and the young Falcons’ defense doing their job as well.
Grant Wheeler, the freshman second baseman, made four putouts and two defensive assists.
“Our middle infield making the plays on ground balls, our outfielders running down balls. That’s what baseball is all about,” said Knittel.
Offensively, aside from a 6-4 fielder’s choice, Vogelsong-Lewis was just as good at the plate —going 3-for-4 with a pair of runs batted in.
With a 7-0 advantage in the sixth, and against Waverly reliever Weston Roop, Vogelsong-Lewis singled in Wheeler —who reached on an error, stole second and advanced to third on a balk.
While the sixth-inning run was merely insurance, the Falcons found the gaps for hits against Alex Boles, who lasted just 13 batters and only one and one-thirds innings.
In the opening at-bat, Wheeler singled to center to lead off, Adam Crank walked, and designated hitter Levi Coriell singled to center to cross Wheeler.
In the second, Minford erupted for six runs on six hits —five off Boles, including Crank’s two run-single to center, Vogelsong-Lewis’ RBI-single to right, and Coriell’s RBI-single to center.
Crank (2-of-2), Vogelsong-Lewis (3-of-4) and Coriell (2-of-3) combined for seven of the Falcons’ 12 hits —as Crank drew two walks and Coriell an intentional walk.
Aodhan Queen was walked in the second, and doubled in the third for Minford’s only extra-base baseknock.
“There was a lot of hard-hit balls, true hits tonight,” said Knittel. “We got on base, and we like to put pressure on and move guys around. Putting the ball in play is the key. I tell our players it doesn’t matter how far we hit and to quit looking for the big hit. Just put the ball in play. Our objective here was just to throw the hands, put the ball in play and good things happen.”
And, good things are indeed happening for the young Falcons —as they continued against the Tigers on Monday.
Minford ventures to West on Wednesday while Wheelersburg is at Northwest the same day — setting up Friday’s second showdown between the two SOC II leaders.
“It’s always exciting playing Wheelersburg. The last several years that I’ve been here, it’s been a battle. Lot of respect to the Pirates and Coach (Derek) Moore and what they do,” said Knittel. “It’s going to be another battle, but we have to take care of ourselves first on Wednesday with West, let Wheelersburg do their thing, and we’ll see where we are on Friday.”
* * *
Waverly 000 000 1 — 1 2 2
Minford 160 001 X — 8 12 1
WHS: Alex Boles 1 1/3 IP, 7R, 6ER, 7H, 2BB, 0HB, 1K, 13BF; Weston Roop 4 2/3 IP, 1R, 0ER, 5H, 2BB, 0HB, 6K, 20BF
MHS: Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 7IP, 1R, 1ER, 2H, 3BB, 0HB, 8K, 26BF
W — Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis; L — Alex Boles
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved