Prep baseball: Badin makes opening statement, blanks Oak Hills in sectional

Badin coach Brion Treadway watches Ryan Kirkendall (5) slide into third base as the ball gets past Oak Hills third baseman Austin Dennis on Thursday during a Division I sectional baseball game at Alumni Field in Joyce Park. Host Badin won 11-0 in five innings. RICK CASSANO/STAFF
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Badin coach Brion Treadway watches Ryan Kirkendall (5) slide into third base as the ball gets past Oak Hills third baseman Austin Dennis on Thursday during a Division I sectional baseball game at Alumni Field in Joyce Park. Host Badin won 11-0 in five innings. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

HAMILTON — Badin High School’s baseball team didn’t really need any extra motivation as the Division I postseason began. But it certainly didn’t hurt.

Brion Treadway’s crew got voted in the top six at the Cincinnati sectional draw by every coach except one. That was Chuck Laumann of Oak Hills, who put the Rams 13th, then jumped in the Cincinnati 5 sectional with them.

The Highlanders knocked off Sycamore in the first round and took their shot at Badin on Thursday … and it didn’t go very well. The Rams ripped off seven runs in the bottom of the first inning en route to an 11-0, five-inning triumph at Alumni Field.

» PHOTOS: Rick Cassano’s 30-image gallery from Alumni Field

“We took care of business as usual,” said Badin junior first baseman Kaden Kimbrell, who drove in four runs. “I think that 13 vote and tournament time coming around definitely put a bigger chip on our shoulder, but we were still loose. In our minds, if we do what we do, we win. So we can’t change anything.”

Treadway didn’t want to focus on the tournament draw, noting simply that his players “knew about it.”

“I thought we came out ready to play today. Our guys were hungry and had a great first inning,” Treadway said. “This team doesn’t surprise me by anything that they do. I’m glad we won and we get to keep practicing. I enjoy coaching these guys, so every day we get to be together, I’m going to soak it up.”

Cade Boxrucker, Chase Hopewell and Spencer Giesting combined on a two-hitter for fourth-seeded Badin (26-2), which won its 19th consecutive game. It’s the program’s longest winning streak since the 2008 team registered 20 straight wins.

Treadway said as well as things are going, there’s always room for improvement.

Badin pitcher Chase Hopewell cracks a smile between innings Thursday during a Division I sectional baseball game against visiting Oak Hills at Alumni Field in Joyce Park. Badin won 11-0 in five innings. RICK CASSANO/STAFF
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Badin pitcher Chase Hopewell cracks a smile between innings Thursday during a Division I sectional baseball game against visiting Oak Hills at Alumni Field in Joyce Park. Badin won 11-0 in five innings. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

“You’re dealing with high school athletes,” he said. “I’m not going to sit here and say we’ve got it all figured out. We’re still working on things and tweaking things. Every day we have an opportunity to get better, and that’s what we’re really excited about.”

The Rams will travel to Lakota East on Tuesday for a 5 p.m. district semifinal against eight-seeded La Salle (14-11). Badin beat the Lancers 7-5 on April 23.

“It’s a great time to be a part of Badin baseball with the roll we’ve been on,” Rams junior catcher Dylan Ballauer said. “You’ve got to love what’s going on, so I’m really confident moving forward. Over the long haul, I feel like we’ve got a really great chance of going all the way, especially with the attitudes we’ve had and energy-wise being all up.

“There’s been nothing negative from the team at all, even from the ones who aren’t playing and maybe don’t feel like they’re getting their fair shot. The energy’s still up with them. It’s a great all-around atmosphere here at Alumni, and we’ll take it anywhere we go.”

Badin’s first-inning outburst included two-run doubles by Luke Tabler and Alex Barger, and an RBI triple by A.J. Enginger. Oak Hills starting pitcher Wyatt Fisher managed to get two outs, but faced 10 batters and couldn’t get out of the inning before being relieved by Alex Walicki.

Badin second baseman A.J. Enginger tags Oak Hills runner Austin Dennis (8) and throws to first base for a 4-3 double play during Thursday’s Division I sectional baseball game at Alumni Field in Joyce Park. Host Badin won 11-0 in five innings. RICK CASSANO/STAFF
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Badin second baseman A.J. Enginger tags Oak Hills runner Austin Dennis (8) and throws to first base for a 4-3 double play during Thursday’s Division I sectional baseball game at Alumni Field in Joyce Park. Host Badin won 11-0 in five innings. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

Walicki and Zach Breeden pitched 1.2 innings apiece for 19th-seeded Oak Hills (10-17), which finished sixth in the Greater Miami Conference. Kimbrell cracked a three-run homer off Walicki in the third inning, his first long ball of the season.

“I wasn’t seeing the ball too well until that last at-bat,” Kimbrell said. “I had two strikes on me. I just shortened up, got the up pitch and just took my barrel to it, and it went.”

That blast over the left-field fence was Badin’s fourth homer of the year. Kimbrell has had a roller-coaster season, but he has raised his batting average to .307 and is tied for second on the team with 21 RBIs.

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Kimbrell said. “The team’s picked me up the whole year when I failed. Now it’s time to get back into it and pick them up when they need it.”

Tabler totaled three RBIs for the Rams and had two hits, as did Ryan Kirkendall and Ballauer. Boxrucker pitched the first three innings to get the win, and Hopewell and Giesting followed with an inning apiece — they combined for three strikeouts and four walks.

Cam Brandt singled twice for the Highlanders’ only hits.

Oak Hills pitcher Wyatt Fisher throws to first base as Badin coach Brion Treadway jumps to get a better view during Thursday’s Division I sectional baseball game at Alumni Field in Joyce Park. Host Badin won 11-0 in five innings. RICK CASSANO/STAFF
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Oak Hills pitcher Wyatt Fisher throws to first base as Badin coach Brion Treadway jumps to get a better view during Thursday’s Division I sectional baseball game at Alumni Field in Joyce Park. Host Badin won 11-0 in five innings. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

“It was men against boys,” said Laumann, finishing his 26th season at the Oak Hills helm. “At the beginning of the year, I knew we were going to struggle. We had seven sophomores and one freshman.

“I was hoping to get to 10 victories, which we did, but we had to replace our entire starting lineup this year. As the year progressed, they got better and better and better. They’ve got to keep things in perspective and understand that success is relative.”

He said voting Badin 13th at the draw wasn’t necessarily a sign of disrespect.

“I went 13th because of the schedule,” Laumann said. “I’m looking at everybody in Cincinnati and everybody’s playing a Division I schedule. I hadn’t seen (Badin) play, and I cannot vote somebody higher than anybody who I have seen play. I know their league doesn’t allow them to play a continuous Division I schedule. They’re a very good team, but I will always vote with what I know and what I’ve seen.”

When told that his vote likely gave Badin some extra juice, Laumann shrugged.

“I’m sure it did, but what am I going to do?” he said. “I’m not going to go on a bracket and play (Lakota) East again. I’m not going to go on a bracket and play Mason again. I’m not going to go on a bracket and play Kings, who I knew a lot about and is very good. And I didn’t want to go play Moeller. We haven’t played these guys in probably 10, 12 years. That’s life.”

Oak Hills 000-00—0-2-1

Badin 704-0x—11-11-0

WP — Cade Boxrucker (7-0); LP — Wyatt Fisher (1-5); HR — B: Kaden Kimbrell. Records: O 10-17, B 26-2