CCS baseball reaches district final

Cougars top Mariemont 7-2 to advance

WEST CHESTER TWP. — Seth Halsey accepted the 90-degree weather with open arms Monday night.

It allowed the Cincinnati Christian Schools sophomore to get into his comfort zone on the mound.

Halsey tossed five innings of shutout ball and the Cougars used some early offensive production to beat the Mariemont Warriors 7-2 in a Division III district semifinal at the West Chester Baseball Complex.

“I like the hot temperatures throwing in this heat,” Halsey said. “When it’s hot, it keeps me loose, and I feel good.”

Cincinnati Christian, ranked No. 1 in Cincinnati, has won four of its last five and will face Arcanum in a district final at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Dixie.

The Cougars (22-5) are searching for their first trip to regionals since 2019, when they fell to Minster 1-0 in the regional final.

“That’s a really good word for it — intensity. That’s what we want to bring to the field,” CCS first-year coach Jim Birch said. “If we come out and play that way, we can play against any team. It doesn’t always mean we’re going to win every single game, but it means we will stay in every game.

“I’m just really proud of these guys, especially the seniors who have been leaders on the team throughout the year. They have just taken everything to heart. I couldn’t be more proud of them and the assistant coaches for the work they’ve put in.”

Cougars center fielder Timmy Nagel went 2 for 3 with a run, and he said the CCS offense has been complimenting its defense all season.

“Our defense has been really good all year,” Nagel said. “It’s been really holding us together in games, especially later in games. But our bats are really starting to get hot. We came out pretty strong with the bats today.”

Luke Fischer had a two-RBI double in the bottom of the first to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead, and Jonah Wilson led off the bottom half of the second by hustling out an inside-the-park home run that put CCS up 3-0.

Nagel got hit by a pitch, and he came around to score on Nick Birch’s sacrifice bunt. Bradyn Bayes hit a two-RBI single scoring Kael Starks and Alex Minacapelli to put the Cougars on top 6-0 after two innings.

Young reached on an error to begin the bottom of the fifth and scored on a Nick Birch ground out to make it 7-0.

“In the early innings, we came out with some intensity,” Jim Birch said. “We threw strikes and made the plays in the field. We just put the pressure on them with the bats, too. We kept getting guys on base, and eventually the runners are going to score. When that happens, it’s really nice.”

Halsey held Mariemont (13-11) scoreless through five innings, struck out seven, gave up four hits and only walked two. Wilson came in to close out the final two innings.

“Halsey has thrown now in the last three weeks in a row,” Birch said. “He’s just been outstanding. Last week, he threw against Elder and had a really good outing. Tonight, shutting them out for five innings — it was fabulous. Now, we’re set up for Wednesday.”

Halsey said there wasn’t a bad pitch to be thrown Monday.

“Today, everything we just kind of working,” Halsey said. “Off-speeds were working. Fastball was locating well, and I was just letting the defense work behind me.

“It gets me going,” Halsey added of his team’s early offensive burst. “It helps everyone get going. It makes us feel comfortable. You don’t have to feel all tense and worry about anything. You just get to go out there and play.”

Mariemont scored two in the top of the sixth, and Cincinnati Christian ended the threat with a double play.

“We’re really upbeat right now,” Halsey said. “We’re just looking to keep it rolling. Practices are intense, and we’re just working hard to win the next one.”

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