LANCASTER — Minford coach Anthony Knittel said free bases were a key factor in the Falcons’ season-ending loss 10-7 loss to Barnesville in Saturday’s Division III, Region 11 Final at Lancaster’s Beavers Field.
After Minford led 4-2 through three innings, the Shamrocks would score eight-straight runs, including six in the decisive fourth inning to take an 8-4 edge at the halfway point.
Back-to-back bases loaded walks scored their first two runs of the fourth and tied the game at 4-4. Those walks would set up a pair of two RBI hits by Barnesville’s three and four hitters, Jake Edwards and Gavin Carpenter, and pushed the Shamrocks way ahead 8-4.
Barnesville added two more in the sixth to lead 10-4, scoring once on Minford’s third defensive error and an RBI double by Carpenter.
The Falcons managed to chip away three runs when down to their final three outs in the bottom of the seventh, scoring on a single by Matthew Risner, a Levi Coriell sac fly, and a Branson Alley RBI on a fielder’s choice.
Risner went 3-of-3 at the plate with a team-best three RBI, while Alley was 2-of-4 with two RBI.
Falcon pitching issued six walks between their three pitchers — three apiece by starter Levi Coriell and reliever Cole Borland.
Coriell pitched for two innings and allowed two earned runs before Borland took over in relief and allowed six earned runs.
“Free bases. I don’t care if the team is better than you or not, if you give up free bases you’re not going to win,” Knittel said, afterwards. “Unfortunately, we did. We out-hit them, scored in almost every inning, scored in over half the ball game. We definitely beat ourselves today and that’s tough to swallow.”
Minford (25-3-1) got on the board in the first by battling at the plate with two outs. Senior Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis had a slow rolling infield single followed by a two-out walk by sophomore Aodhan Queen to give the Falcons runners at first and second.
Senior Matthew Risner drove in Vogelsong-Lewis with an RBI single to center field for the third of three Falcons to reach while having two outs.
Barnesville took a brief lead with a pair of runs in the second. A bases loaded walk by Bliss and an infield error gave the Shamrocks its’ first two runs to take a 2-1 advantage.
Junior Branson Alley scored on a wild pitch in the second to tie the game at 2-2 after singling to start the half inning.
A one out triple by Queen in the third put another Falcon runner in scoring position. Matthew Risner singled on a bunt attempt to score Queen and give the Falcons a 3-2 lead. Alley then singled to right field with two outs to score Risner and make it 4-2 for Minford’s largest lead.
Minford out-hit Barnesville 10-8 and scored in four innings, while the Shamrocks had eight hits and scored their 10 runs across three frames.
The Falcons will graduate three seniors from their SOC II champion, District Champion, and Regional Runner-up squad — two of which are the Falcons’ battery unit.
Vogelsong-Lewis, the school’s ERA record holder in a single season (0.35), and Risner, their starting catcher, concluded their senior season having reached the state tournament during their freshman season and being regional runner-up twice. Christian McCallister, one of three Falcon seniors, accepted the team’s regional runner-up trophy in the post game ceremony.
“We had a coaches meeting early in the season when he (Vogelsong-Lewis) was a freshman. He told us he didn’t care what position he played, he was tired and wanted to do whatever it took to win. From that day I’ve held him to it and he’s held a pretty high standard in our dugout. He doesn’t realize it, but he’s started something. We’re built around great leaders. Matthew’s a quiet leader who leads by example. He’s a coach, a player, and he just performs,” Knittel said, of the team’s starting seniors.
Although their losses are plenty tough to replace, they do return seven of nine starters, including their season-long No. 2 pitcher in Noah Martin who was lost to a season-ending injury.
“I don’t think there’s anybody out in the county that expected us to be here, as young as we are. There’s no quit in these guys, they’re fighters,” Knittel said. “We told these kids if any of them don’t expect to be playing in June, don’t show up next year. Told Noah Martin he will be on this mound next year.”
Barnesville: 0 2 0 6 0 2 0 — 10 8 1
Minford: 1 1 2 0 0 0 3 — 7 10 3
W: Gavin Carpenter (B), L: Cole Borland (M),
Aydan Hannahs 0-3, R, 2RBI, BB
Jeremy Hunkler 0-2, R, RBI, BB
Jake Edwards 1-4, 2R, 2RBI
Gavin Carpenter 2-3, 3RBI, BB
Kyvan Johnson 0-3, R, BB
Logan Shepherd 2-4, 2R
C.J. Hannahs 1-3, R, BB
Spencer Bliss 2-2, 2R, RBI, BB
Adam Crank 0-3, R
Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 2-3, 2R
Aodhan Queen 1-3, 2R
Matthew Risner 3-3, R, 3RBI
Levi Coriell 0-3, RBI
Branson Alley 2-4, R, RBI
Cole Borland 1-4
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved