‘Incredible performance’ -- Senior pitches Cincinnati Christian to district title

NEW LEBANON — Jackson Raby was in the zone Wednesday night.

The Cincinnati Christian Schools senior tossed a complete game, struck out six and didn’t give up a walk as the Cougars notched a 5-3 victory over Arcanum to capture a Division III district title at Dixie High School.

“The warmup was great,” Raby said. “Then when I made it on the mound, the curve ball was working great. Four-seam was feeling great. I was able to spot pitches, locate them very well, and I was really just feeling in control. So that was great. I had a great guy (catcher TJ Selvie) calling the game behind the plate, too.”

Cincinnati Christian (23-5) will make its third trip to regionals in school history — first in Division III — and has tied the school record for most wins in the season. The Cougars went 23-5 in 2013 when they lost to Tri-County North 5-4 in 10 innings in the D-IV district finals.

CCS faces Brookville in a regional semifinal next Thursday at 2 p.m. at Wright State University. Brookville beat Carlisle 5-1 in 10 innings in the other district final.

“What it boils down to is two things,” Cougars coach Jim Birch said. “First of all, Jackson’s performance — no walks in seven innings. I mean, that is just phenomenal. In the last inning, for him to have enough confidence to go out there and go after their seven, eight and nine batters. He did that. It was an incredible performance.”

Birch said defense has been a driving force as of late. The Cougars have played errorless ball throughout the postseason.

“They’ve worked so hard since September at this,” Birch said. “They absolutely deserve this. It’s so hard to beat a team when they make no errors and don’t throw a walk. We didn’t give them anything for free.

“That is our baseball right there. We’re going to go out there, and we’re just going to play a clean game from beginning to end. I told our players all year, ‘If we don’t beat ourselves, the other team will eventually beat themselves.’ And that’s what we’ve done this entire time. It’s not just us going out and beating them, it’s us not beating ourselves.”

TJ Selvie (2 for 4, RBI), Timmy Nagel (1 for 4, two runs, RBI), Alex Minacapelli (1 for 3, run, walk), Luke Fischer (1 for 4, two RBI) and Riley Rooks (1 for 2, run) led CCS offensively.

The Cougars grabbed two in the top of the first on a Kael Starks sacrifice fly and Fischer’s groundout that scored Nick Birch.

Fischer singled Minacapelli across the plate to put Cincinnati Christian on top 3-0 in the third. Then Nagel knocked in Rooks and Selvie brought home Nagel on RBI singles in the fourth inning to give the Cougars a 5-0 advantage.

Arcanum started to inch its way back on Lucas Miller’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth, a ground out by Caleb Burke that scored Derek Longstretch in the bottom of the sixth and Miller’s RBI single later on in the sixth.

Raby set the bottom of Arcanum’s lineup down in order to close it out in the seventh.

“At the beginning of the year, we knew this senior class was going to be leaders,” Raby said before getting doused with an ice bucket. “We’re able to demonstrate what great leadership is like.

“The practices have been intense lately. People are going to have to come through us. We’re playing as a team. It’s been a great environment to be around. That’s kind of what has shown during these games.”

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