High School baseball: ‘Hungry’ Badin rolls into Division II state semifinals

Badin High School players swarm the field after defeating Highland in a Division II regional baseball final at Mason June 6, 2021. Badin won 12-3. Contributed photo by E.L. Hubbard
Badin High School players swarm the field after defeating Highland in a Division II regional baseball final at Mason June 6, 2021. Badin won 12-3. Contributed photo by E.L. Hubbard

Credit: E.L. Hubbard

Credit: E.L. Hubbard

Rams blasts Highland Moreno 12-3 in regional championship game

Every team that saw its 2019-2020 season cancelled due to coronavirus-related protocols was hungry to get back on the field or court or track or pitch this school year.

Sergio DeCello and his Badin baseball teammates must’ve been starving.

ExploreBadin blanks Wyoming in regional semis

The senior shortstop blasted a two-run homer in the third inning and classmate Ryan Kirkendall added a three-run shot as the Rams broke open the game with a four-run sixth on the way to a convincing 12-3 win over Marengo Highland in Sunday’s Division II regional championship game at Mason High School.

“We’ve been waiting two years for this,” DeCello said. “We’re hungry.”

Junior right fielder Brady Imhoff finished with three hits, DeCello and junior center fielder Lucas Moore each added two and Moore and junior left fielder Landyn Vidourek each drove in two runs for 27-5 Badin, which captured its first regional championship since 2016 and reached the final four for the 13th time. The Rams lost a Division I district championship game in 2019.

Badin, ranked third in the final Division II statewide coaches’ poll, will take an eight-game winning streak into a state semifinal game against 15th-ranked Carroll Bloom-Carroll (27-5), which is scheduled for Thursday at 4 p.m. at Akron’s Canal Park. The state championship game is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Badin High School baseball team is Division II regional champions after defeating Highland 12-3 at Mason June 6, 2021. Contributed photo by E.L. Hubbard
The Badin High School baseball team is Division II regional champions after defeating Highland 12-3 at Mason June 6, 2021. Contributed photo by E.L. Hubbard

Credit: E.L. Hubbard

Credit: E.L. Hubbard

Sophomore right-hander Copenhaver (4-1) allowed five of Highland’s six hits and two of the Fighting Scots’ three runs in 3 1/3 innings before senior right-hander Luke McLaughlin finished with 3 2/3 innings of one-hit, one-run relief.

“I thought Copenhaver did a tremendous job for being a sophomore pitching in the game that could get us to the state championship, and it’s nice to be able to bring a guy like McLaughlin, who can throw three pitches for strikes,” Badin coach Brion Treadway said.

Badin’s first three batters reached base as the Rams took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Moore singled to lead off the game and stole second before senior second baseman A.J. Enginger was hit by a pitch. The Rams loaded the bases on an error of DeCello’s grounder, and Moore scored when Vidourek drew a one-out bases-loaded walk. Enginger scored on junior third baseman Cooper Fiehrer’s fielder’s-choice grounder, and Brady Imhoff made it 3-0 with a chopper halfway up the third base line.

Highland’s first two batters reached base in the bottom of the first, but Copenhaver bounced back to retire the next three Fighting Scots, punctuating his inning-ending strikeout of Zach Pinkerton with a kick of his right leg and emotional yell.

The Rams tacked on two runs in the second with a two-out rally that DeCello started with a hustling double to right field. Junior catcher James Nugent walked and Vidourek lined a first-pitch, RBI single to center. Vidourek went to second on the throw home and scored on shortstop Rider Minnick’s error of Fiehrer’s grounder.

Fiehrer went to second on the throw home, but the inning ended when Kirkendall was called out for interference while standing in the batter’s box during Fiehrer’s stolen base attempt. Treadway strode in from the third base coach’s box to argued the call, but it stood.

Highland took advantage of a reversed call to score a run in the third. Cooper Merchling was apparently hit by a pitch and went to first, only to be called back to the plate. He delivered on the second chance with a run-scoring double to left field, where Vidourek was left shaken up after trying for a diving catch. He later left the game.

The Rams broke it open with a three-run third, capped by DeCello’s two-run home run to right-center field. He pumped his right arm while seeing the ball clear the fence near the 360-foot marker as he rounded first base.

“I didn’t think it was going out,” DeCello said of his second homer of the season. “I didn’t think it was high enough.”

“I was proud of the way we kept adding on,” Treadway said minutes after Moore grabbed a routine fly ball for the final out, triggering a dog pile in the infield. “We knew we had to. (Highland) had only lost two games. They don’t get down being down.”

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