Isaac Haskell delivered the final blow Wednesday evening in a sweet rivalry victory for Edgewood High School’s baseball team.
The senior lashed a two-out single to left-center field in the bottom of the fifth inning, scoring pinch-runner Cole Craft and completing a 15-5 run-rule triumph over previously unbeaten Ross.
“To put the nail in the coffin against Ross is an amazing feeling and one I’ll probably never forget,” said Haskell, who was 3-for-4 with three RBIs. “It’s just payback for last year.”
Edgewood, which has never won a Southwest Ohio Conference title, soared to a 12-0 lead after a 10-run third inning. The Rams extended the game with five runs in the top of the fifth, but couldn’t avoid the double-digit setback.
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The SWOC-leading Cougars improved to 5-2 overall and 4-0 in the conference under first-year coach Ralph Lunsford. Defending champion Ross slipped to 8-1, 2-1.
“Man, I’m really liking our kids right now,” Lunsford said. “I like their intestinal fortitude. I like their looseness. I’m starting to really like their toughness, and they’re doing it with class. I couldn’t be happier with what’s going on here.”
Corbin Craft went 2-for-3 with a double and drove in four runs for Edgewood, and Shane Watts had a double, two singles and three RBIs.
Ross hurlers Paul Schroeder, Cooper Shields and Nick Arno combined to walk eight batters and hit one. Six of those runners came around to score.
“No. 1, they’re a very good baseball team and have a lot of seniors. No. 2, that’s embarrassing,” Rams coach Jason Rettinger said. “That just can’t happen, even against a good team like Edgewood. And it’s my job to fix it.
“I like that we battled back to stay alive, but I’ve been around too long for moral victories. We were flat-footed and terrible defensively, and our young pitchers didn’t compete in the zone. We’ve been really good with our young guys filling the zone up with multiple pitches, but we did not do it today.
“Things have been a little easy for us, outside of maybe the Hamilton game where scored six in the top of the seventh in a 2-2 game. We’re going to find out what we’ve got. Our goal is to win the SWOC, so we have to win Friday. It’s pretty simple.”
The two teams will square off again Friday at Ross and will have their aces on the mound, Ethan McCarty for the Cougars and Trevor House for the Rams.
Kody McCarley threw a 90-pitch nine-hitter for the Cougars in Wednesday’s windy affair. He also singled twice, walked twice and scored three runs.
“We just keep getting better and better and better,” Lunsford said. “I love the way we’re hitting right now. That’s what we do, just put the ball in play and see what happens.”
McCarty had two singles and two RBIs for Edgewood, which totaled 14 hits and had lost two of its last three games (to Badin and Elder). Tristan Back, Koby Schmidt and Mason Hollister all drove in runs, and Seth Phipps scored three times.
“We weren’t worried about what happened in the losses. We moved on,” Haskell said. “I think the mind-set of everybody this year is more focused. We’re going to go at it every day.”
The five-run fifth by Ross included a two-run single by Eric Guckiean and a two-run double by Ethan Hall, and House got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Guckiean and Brock Tatum had two hits apiece for the Rams.
“I thought we squared some balls up. I thought we attacked,” Rettinger said. “That’s good, but it’s got to be better.”
“You don’t want to give any Jason Rettinger team life, but it wasn’t like we kicked it around that inning,” Lunsford said. “They just came around and started hitting it.”
Lunsford has seen his team give up a few big numbers this season, but he’s also seen plenty of resilience. He came to Edgewood after five seasons as the head coach at New Miami.
“I loved my time in the village. My daughter still teaches there, and I’ve still got a lot of contacts there,” Lunsford said. “It was just the right time, the right move for me. And Edgewood has been so welcoming and so supportive from the top down. I’m blessed that these kids have bought into the whole deal. It’s a pretty good time to be a Cougar.”
Both teams will play Thursday. The Cougars will be at home against Harrison in SWOC play, while Ross travels to Indian Hill for a nonconference game.
WP — Kody McCarley (2-0); LP — Paul Schroeder (1-1). Records: R 8-1, 2-1 SWOC; E 5-2, 4-0 SWOC