Prep baseball: Franklin rolls Fenwick for Division II district title, looks ahead to regional

MIAMISBURG — Franklin High School’s baseball team is surging into the Division II regional for the first time since 2013.

The last time the Wildcats made it this far, they had a guy named Travis Lakins on their roster. He’s now a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.

“We don’t have anybody like that, but we’ve got a bunch of different guys that just compete,” first-year Franklin coach Kyle Wainscott said Friday after his Wildcats battered Fenwick 11-2 to grab a district championship at Miamisburg’s Toadvine Field. “We don’t have a headliner that’s a big-time recruit. They’re just fun kids to coach, and we’ve gotten a little bit better all season.”

» PHOTOS: Nick Graham’s 42-image gallery from Miamisburg

Franklin (25-6), the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division co-champion with Valley View, shot out of the gate with six runs in the top of the first inning and cruised to its sixth straight win.

Sophomore Casey Judy tossed a three-hitter and contributed a double, a single and two RBIs at the plate for the Wildcats, who will meet Ross in a 2 p.m. regional semifinal Thursday at Mason.

“It’s fantastic, but I don’t want to be done,” Franklin junior catcher Zack Minton said. “We’re going to go after it next Thursday and keep going. Our confidence is up right now. Everything’s good.”

Wainscott said the Wildcats are setting high goals. They’re aiming for the program’s first state appearance at Canal Park in Akron.

“It’s been a heck of a season, but I hope we’re not done,” Wainscott said. “I’ve never been to Akron. That’s kind of been our mantra as a coaching staff. We’d love to go, so that’s where we’re at. Right now we’re going to get ready for Ross, and it’ll be a great baseball game.”

Friday wasn’t such a good day for Fenwick (15-14), which had two of its five errors and went through three pitchers in the first inning.

Minton’s three-run double to left-center field was the big blow in that early outburst.

“I’ve played baseball my whole life,” Minton said. “I’ve kind of been in a slump this year, so I was just trying to get out and do it for my team. I was ready to provide.

“We talked about it all week long. We talked about it in the back gym today when we were hitting. We wanted to hop on them in the first inning. We wanted to get after it right away because we were the away team.”

Said Wainscott, “This game’s tough when you get down early at this stage of the season. You’re trying to play from behind and it’s not where you want to be. Putting pressure on that other dugout, that’s our goal every time.”

Nate Green got the mound start for the Falcons and lasted six batters. Robert Nicholls then gave up hits to the only two batters he faced, and Chase Mulligan went to the hill for the next 4.2 innings before Carter Earls finished.

“God bless Nate Green,” Fenwick coach Chris Stratton said. “He’s done great stuff for us and shown great leadership all year. He just had a couple walks, and they hit him with some dinkers and ground balls that we just couldn’t make plays on. It opened the floodgates that first inning. You can’t recover from a start like that.”

Judy didn’t have those kinds of problems. The right-hander struck out two, walked two and allowed just one hit through the first five innings.

This is his first varsity season. His record is 7-0.

“He’s just around the strike zone,” Wainscott said. “You’re never going to get any emotion out of that kid. He’s over 40 innings, and I think he’s walked 11 kids all year. If you do that, you give yourself a chance every day.”

Judy said he had all three of his pitches — fastball, curveball and changeup — working against the Falcons, even though he admitted he was a little wild during warmups.

“It was a little iffy in the bullpen, but I pulled it together on the mound,” Judy said. “I knew I had a good defense behind me. I could just throw strikes and they would do what they needed to do.

“It’s nice to have that big cushion when you’re pitching. The fastball was doing well, especially inside. They couldn’t get around on it.”

He was one out away from completing a run-rule triumph in the bottom of the sixth when Fenwick’s Thomas Vogelsang extended the game by ripping a two-run double.

“We still won. That’s all that matters,” Judy said. “I think I got a little complacent, but I pulled that together in the seventh inning. I just went out there and got back at it.”

“He pitched a great game,” Minton said. “He lost a little bit of gas toward the end, but it’s hot out and that’s expected when you’ve been ptching all day.”

Stratton said the Falcons simply couldn’t find a rhythm against Judy.

“We were popping up a lot,” Stratton said. “We were late and swinging at balls that were up, and they were just flaring them up. We talk about no shutout, no run rule, so I was proud that our guys kept fighting.”

Aaron Blake, Clayton Black and Cooper Daniels all had two hits for the Wildcats. Black, Drew Gescuk and Gunner Lakins plated a run apiece, and Aiden Kinser and Tytus Tussey both scored twice.

“It’s just a good win. It’s good for our kids,” Wainscott said. “I have nothing but respect for Fenwick and Coach Stratton. They play in probably the toughest small-school league in the state.”

It was an up-and-down season for Fenwick. Ten seniors — R.J. Clesceri, Parker Elliott, Henry Nenni, Alex Abbott, Nick Stratton, C.J. Napier, Sully Janeck, Anthony Crisci, Green and Vogelsang — graduated Friday night.

“We didn’t start out well and struggled defensively in the middle of the season. We kicked it around a ton and lost some ballgames we had no business losing,” Chris Stratton said. “But we got the right chemistry going and put together a run at the end of the season.

“These 10 seniors will be hard to replace. I told the sophomores and juniors to learn from these guys. They’re great role models.”

Defending state champion Chaminade Julienne will face Granville in Thursday’s second regional semifinal at 5 p.m. The regional championship game is set for 5 p.m. on Friday.

Franklin 600-014-0—11-12-0

Fenwick 000-002-0—2-3-5

WP — Casey Judy (7-0); LP — Nate Green (5-4). Records: FRA 25-6, FEN 15-14

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