It was bound to be a season-ending gut punch for somebody.
Jake Glover just didn’t think his Carlisle High School baseball team would be on the receiving end Friday.
The Indians were left to ponder what might have been as their bid for a Division III state tournament berth came up just short, with Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy scratching out an eighth-inning run to triumph 2-1 in a regional final at the Athletes in Action complex.
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“We really felt like we could not be beat,” said Glover, a senior pitcher who threw the first seven innings. “It just slipped away from us today. We had a bigger goal, but that’s what it is. It’s baseball.”
The Indians (22-10) stranded seven runners in the last three innings (nine overall) and left men on first and second in the bottom of the eighth when pinch-hitter A.J. Keeton ended the game with a ground out.
Carlisle’s only state appearance came in 1966.
“I’m disappointed for my six seniors. I guess that’s the biggest thing right now,” Indians coach Chris Hawkins said of Glover, Adam Goodpaster, Caleb Boy, Reece Human, Bryce Gosney and Logan Baker.
“You lose and you realize it’s over and that sucks, but the first thing you think about is the last four years, the time you spent with them, what they put into it. I want six kids to realize that they might have taken this program and their teammates, our coaching staff and this community to a distance in the tournament that who knows if we’ll see it again.
“I want them to understand that. I want them to find a little bit of peace with it. They’re crushed right now, so it’s tough. They’re damn good ballpalyers, and they’re better young men.”
CHCA (23-7) will make its third trip to the state tournament after advancing in 2005 and 2014. Its state semifinal is set for 1 p.m. on Thursday at Huntington Park in Columbus against Berlin Hiland.
The Eagles got a bases-loaded sacrifice fly from Griffin Hughes in the eighth inning. Hughes lifted a fly ball into foul territory in medium-range left field, and Boy caught the ball and threw toward home, but he couldn’t prevent the run from scoring.
Hawkins said it was worth the risk for Boy to catch the ball in foul ground for the second out and try to get the runner at the plate.
“You’re talking maybe 240 feet. We’re OK with that throw,” Hawkins said. “If the leadoff batter’s at third base, you think more about it. But they didn’t have their best runner at third base, and we’re struggling to get an out and get out of the inning. We took our chances with it, and they made a play.”
Human pitched the eighth and took the loss for Carlisle. Max Ripperger threw 2.2 innings in relief of Clayton Brock to pick up the win for CHCA.
“What a ballgame,” said Tony Schulz, in his first season coaching the Eagles after directing Fairfield’s program the last three years. “There were so many moments in that game where you felt the tide was going to turn and a team was going to take control, and then something else happened. That was one of those good old-fashioned good ones. A little nerve-wracking to be a part of, but a lot of fun.
“My heart goes out to the Carlisle kids. They played unbelievable the whole tournament. It’s rough for them. I understand that. I’ve been there before.
“But on the flip side, I’m so happy for our guys. I’m feeling a little bit of everything, but mostly excitement for the kids. To see them be able to celebrate this and the exciting moments they had in the dogpile … I’m just happy they get to experience this.”
CHCA stranded 11 runners and left the bases full in the sixth and seventh innings. No. 9 hitter Adam Rakestraw was 3-for-3 with a double for the Eagles, and Jack Vezdos drove in a run.
Jake Moore had two hits for the Indians, and Caleb Stewart plated their only run in the fourth. Carlisle loaded the bases in the seventh when Baker doubled, J.J. Roberts was hit by a pitch and Moore beat out an infield single, but Ripperger struck out Goodpaster to force another inning.
“That was one of those mano-a-mano moments, and we were able to get out of a pretty tight jam,” Schulz said. “Our pitchers (both sophomores) make pitches when they need to make them. They clutch up. Nothing gets to them.”
Glover allowed six hits while striking out two, walking three and hitting three batters. He said his arm felt good enough to pitch in the eighth, but he had no problem with Human taking over.
“I think it was the fourth time around,” Glover said. “They’d seen me three times already, so I think it was a good move to switch it up a little bit.
“I was throwing what I had. I was throwing my heart. The team’s always been solid behind me. A 2-1 game, that’s a great baseball game.”
Carlisle defeated the Eagles 4-2 in a regular-season game at CHCA on May 12.
“We’ve always played those guys,” Hawkins said. “It’s always good ball. They bring out the best in our kids, and I hope we do that for them. Their kids have always treated our kids and our staff the right way, and I hope we have as well towards them. I wish them the best of luck.
“The same way I’m saying our kids battled back and held them when we had situations, their kids did the same thing. Tony could be just as proud of his kids for that if it had gone the other way.”
The CHS coach said he believes his Indians are a top-five team in Ohio in their division.
“Only four teams get to go (to state),” Hawkins said. “That’s how hard it is to get there. But now we’ve got something to try to reach and get back to and make it common and be here all the time. That’s the next goal. That’s where we go from here.”
Glover and Goodpaster are set to be roommates and baseball players at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Boy (Marietta) and Human (Walsh) will be playing football at the next level.
“It’s been a great four years,” Glover said. “The guys that have already graduated that I played with, those are great men. A lot of these younger guys today can see what’s out there to play for even beyond this. These seniors, I’ve grown up with them ever since we were 6, 7 years old. I’ve played baseball with them ever since then. They’re just great guys to be around, just enjoying each other’s presence and playing the game we all love. I’m happy for all of them.”
WP — Max Ripperger (7-1); LP — Reece Human (5-2). Records: CH 23-7, CA 22-10
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