Prep baseball: Badin streaks to another GCL title as Division I postseason looms

HAMILTON — Badin High School’s baseball team has cranked into a high gear as it bears down on the Division I postseason.

Powered by a top-flight pitching staff, the Rams have grown with a mostly new everyday lineup and won their 27th Greater Catholic League title in 28 years of GCL competition.

“We don’t talk about league titles ever,” Badin coach Brion Treadway said Wednesday after his team wrapped up the outright GCL Coed Central Division championship by handling visiting Fenwick 12-2 in five innings at Alumni Field. “Baseball’s a popular sport around here. It’s part of the blood in this area.

» PHOTOS: Rick Cassano’s 31-image gallery from Alumni Field

“We’ve had tremendous coaches here since we’ve been in the GCL, and the culture of Badin baseball was established long before that. It’s just a testament to the type of kids that come to Badin to play baseball and the coaches that have had them along the way.”

The Rams didn’t win the Central crown in 2016, when McNicholas was the outright champion. Badin has won or shared every other championship since starting league play in 1992.

“We’re well aware of that, but it’s just kind of expected for us,” junior first baseman Kaden Kimbrell said. “That’s the Badin tradition. Just go out and play our game and win.”

The 2019 crew is surging right along with a 12-game winning streak. Badin is 19-2 overall and 12-1 in the GCLC, losing only to Elder and Chaminade Julienne.

The Rams fell behind Fenwick 2-0 in the top of the second inning Wednesday, then dropped the Falcons with 14 hits and 12 runs the rest of the way.

“I was very impressed,” Treadway said. “They went down 2-0 and didn’t press. Nothing changed. There was no panic in this dugout. They did what they do, which is try to put together solid at-bats, have a good approach and hit the ball hard.

“This team has been loose and relaxed for the entire season. I think a lot of things got worked out in our scrimmages. They’re not overthinking anything. It’s fun to watch a group of guys come together and root and cheer for each other.”

Left-hander Spencer Giesting tossed a three-hitter with seven strikeouts and no walks to earn the win. Fenwick righty Nate Green took the loss after giving up nine runs in 2.2 innings, with Robert Nicholls and John Smith following him to the hill.

“You’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game in all facets when you play Badin,” Falcons coach Chris Stratton said. “Two out of three isn’t going to get it done, and the pitching wasn’t there today.

“Nate felt like he was getting squeezed a little bit behind the plate and he doesn’t react to that very well, which is something we’ve been working on all year with him. I liked the way we jumped out on them early. We didn’t back down. But then it just got away from us.”

Carter Earls launched an RBI double to bring Thomas Vogelsang home and Sully Janeck plated Earls with a ground out in the second inning for Fenwick.

The Falcons (9-11, 7-5 GCLC North) have lost five of their last seven games and will host the Rams on Friday.

“No doubt we’ve got the talent,” Stratton said. “We have the pieces. We’ve just got to put them together. Some games they’ll be together. Some games we seem a litte lost.

“We’ve underachieved for sure. We’ve lost to some teams we felt we should’ve beaten. But our focus is on finishing the season and getting ready for (Division II) sectionals. It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish, and that’s been our theme the past couple weeks.”

Badin got three RBIs apiece from Sergio DeCello and Dylan Ballauer. Luke Tabler also drove in two runs, and Josh Hegemann, Kimbrell, Alex Barger and Evan Schlensker all added RBIs. Kimbrell, Barger, Ballauer, Giesting and DeCello each had two hits.

The bat work provided by Kimbrell and DeCello was heartening to Treadway. They’ve both been struggling at the plate. Kimbrell began Wednesday’s game with a .254 batting average — DeCello was at .146.

“I’m getting back on it,” said Kimbrell, who sparked the hosts by ripping a leadoff double in the bottom of the second. “I was ready to find the groove again. Anything they threw to me tonight just looked like a beach ball.”

DeCello pulled a three-run triple down the right-field line in the second, got hit by a pitch and bunted for a single batting in the No. 9 hole.

“I was seeing the ball well today and it’s about time I did, so hopefully I’m back on track,” said DeCello, a sophomore who’s verbally committed to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

This season hasn’t been an easy road for DeCello, who suffered an ulnar collateral ligament sprain in his throwing elbow and has just recently returned to playing in the infield.

The injury prompted the switch-hitter to only bat left-handed, even against lefties, early in the season. That didn’t help his batting average.

“It was just a mental game up at the plate,” DeCello said. “It was tough, but at the same time, you can’t feel sorry for yourself. You’ve got to know what you’re capable of doing. You’ve got to keep pushing yourself, and my dad and Coach Treadway and all the coaches do that.

“I’m feeling great now. I’m slinging the ball, which is good. Today was my dad’s birthday, so I tried to give him a little something special at the plate and get back on track.”

Treadway said Kimbrell and DeCello are examples of hard work leading to success.

“When guys struggle, you find out a lot about them,” Treadway said. “Some kids pout and put their head down and feel sorry for themselves, and other kids just go to work. Those two have gone to work every day. They bring the same energy to the ballpark whether they had a bad night the night before or a great night.”

The Rams figure to be a prominent team at Sunday’s tournament draw. This is their second year in Division I thanks to the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s move to competitive balance, and while it’s still a sore point within the program, there is also a level of acceptance.

“Coach Treadway taught us how to embrace it and get after it every day and don’t pout about it,” Kimbrell said. “I think teams like to sleep on us a little bit because we’re a smaller school, but we’ll do what we do and fight. We’re not going to back down from anyone.”

Fenwick 020-00—2-3-0

Badin 054-12—12-14-1

WP — Spencer Giesting (3-2); LP — Nate Green (3-3). Records: F 9-11, 7-5 GCLC North; B 19-2, 12-1 GCLC Central

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