Badin baseball seeks third state championship, first since 1996

The Badin High School baseball team is in the state semifinals for the 14th time. The Rams will vie for their third state title, and first since 1996, beginning Friday in Akron. CONTRIBUTED

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The Badin High School baseball team is in the state semifinals for the 14th time. The Rams will vie for their third state title, and first since 1996, beginning Friday in Akron. CONTRIBUTED

The answers by Badin pitcher Eric Rawlings and right fielder Brycen Fox left listeners scratching their heads in puzzlement.

The Badin baseball players had been asked their reaction to reaching Ohio’s Division II state semifinals this weekend at Akron’s Canal Park for the second straight season.

“It’ll be good to get back to Alumni Field,” both said.

“It’ll be good to get back to our own field,” Fox added. “I can’t wait.”

Huh?

Turns out, Alumni Field is where the Rams practice. Their mindset? If they’re still practicing, that means they’re still playing.

Badin (26-6), ranked seventh in the final Division II state coaches poll, is scheduled to face defending statechampion Akron Archbishop Hoban in the first of two semifinals at 4 p.m. on Friday. Chardon and Columbus Bishop Hartley are due to meet at 7 p.m. in the other semifinal. The state championship game is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Badin is making its 14th state semifinal appearance and won state championships in Division III in 1991 and Division II in 1996. Hoban is playing its sixth state semifinal and is riding a 13-game postseason winning streak, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. The Knights have won nine straight games this year, according to the school website.

The Rams have won 10 straight games and 15 of 16 since a mid-season three-game losing streak. They romped through the region semifinal and final at Mason, winning the two games by a combined 17-1 to cruise into the state semifinal.

Badin churned out a combined 22 hits in the two games, including 10 in Friday’s 11-1 regional final win over Delaware Buckeye Valley shortened by the mercy rule to six innings. That game’s third inning included a Lucas Moore’s run-scoring triple and Brady Imhoff’s RBI double on the next pitch.

Make that five total pitches, two hits and two runs on two pitches.

Rodney Rachel followed with a home run that completed a one-inning cycle for the Rams.

That was one day after the Rams erupted for six runs in an 11-batter fifth inning against Taylor in the regional semifinal. Senior shortstop Landyn Vidourek had two hits in the inning.

Fox also was a key contributor at the region level from the nine hole, going a combined 4-for-5, including 3-for-3 with three runs in the final.

“I know if I get on, they’ll get me in,” Fox said. “That’s what happened today.”

“He’s like a second leadoff hitter,” Badin coach Brion Treadway said. “He gets the team going. He’s pretty fast. Landyn and Lucas also are fast, so he doesn’t clog up the bases. He’s done a phenomenal job for us.”

Badin also routed Roger Bacon, 16-5, in a regular-season game on May 30 sandwiched in between the district championship game and the region semifinal. That’s 36 hits and a 33-6 scoring margin over the Rams’ last three games. Somebody asked Treadway if the region-level outburst suggested Badin was peaking at the right time.

“I sure hope so,” he said enthusiastically. “We’ve never been able to put it all together, one through nine, all year, but all of my coaches kept saying, ‘It’ll start clicking.’ Hopefully, it’s clicking at the right time.”

While Badin’s players were relishing getting back to Alumni Field, Treadway was looking forward to returning to the state semifinals. The pandemic-forced cancellation of the 2020 season leaves him especially grateful.

“It never gets old,” he said. “That affected me a lot. I’ll never taking getting to the Final Four for granted.”

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