Winning has become a contagious, delightful thing for Ross High School’s baseball team.
The Rams have discovered some postseason magic again this year and captured their second straight Division II district championship Monday, erasing a 3-0 deficit to knock off Tippecanoe 6-3 at Mason.
“Just keep winning. That’s what you do,” said senior Montana Allgaier, who pitched 3.1 scoreless innings in relief to earn the win. “You play until you have to go home. That’s how it is.”
PREP SOFTBALL COVERAGE
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Ross coach Jason Rettinger is somewhat amazed by the amount of success the Rams have had this year after going 25-6 with a senior-laden squad last spring.
“If you had told me we were going to graduate 14 seniors, every starter and our top two pitchers and we were going to win 24 games and win sectionals, districts and the (Southwest Ohio Conference) championship, I don’t even know what I would’ve said to that,” Rettinger said.
“These guys have just gone above and beyond everything I’ve asked them to do, and they’re so hard-nosed. They believe that they’re going to win every time they play, which is pretty valuable. It can mask some other things that maybe you’re not really good at.”
Zach King, Paul Schroeder and Allgaier combined on a six-hitter for Ross, which didn’t manage a hit until the fourth inning.
The Rams (24-6) will return to Mason for a 2 p.m. regional semifinal against Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy on Thursday. Chaminade Julienne and Columbus Hartley will meet in the second semifinal at 5 p.m., and the regional title will be decided Friday at 5 p.m.
Rettinger said he’s savoring every minute of the tournament. He’s already announced that he’ll end his 14-year tenure as head coach when the season comes to a close.
“I’ve stood down at third a few times — Roger Bacon, Taylor and today — and tried not to think about it,” said Rettinger, who has a 250-129 record at the RHS helm. “It’s not about me, but you don’t want these seniors to be done. And I’ll be honest, it’s been pretty emotional for me too. I appreciate these guys giving me another opportunity to coach third base Thursday. I love ’em.”
Style points are irrelevant in the postseason, and Ross had very few Monday. The Rams didn’t tally a single run on a hit — they scored on a sacrifice fly by Eric Guckiean, bases-loaded walks to Logan Fuller and Keegan Nickoson, a wild pitch on a third strike and a two-run error.
King pitched two innings and Schroeder went 1.2 frames before Allgaier took over. The Red Devils led 3-0 at the time, but Allgaier got them to leave the bases loaded in the fourth.
It was a recurring theme for Tippecanoe (25-4), which stranded 10 runners overall.
“Hitting was definitely our Achilles this year,” Red Devils coach Bruce Cahill said. “It was just what we didn’t do well. We had some games where we hit, but that could be bad pitching. (We had) too many 2-0, 3-0 games.”
Zach Losey whacked a two-run homer in the third inning and added a single for Tippecanoe, and Cole Barhorst also had two hits.
Kenten Egbert, Ian Yunker, Seth Clayton and Mason McClurg did the pitching for the Red Devils. Egbert looked very strong early and retired the first 10 batters he faced, but he was relieved after 4.2 innings.
Ross did get a double from Ethan Hall and singles from Andrew Beebe and Brock Tatum in the four-run fifth, but Egbert and Yunker also combined for three walks in the frame. Tatum scored what proved to be the winning run when Trevor House struck out (and ultimately reached base) on a pitch that couldn’t be handled behind the plate.
Cahill said it was Tippecanoe’s third loss this season that included an inning that couldn’t be stopped from “unraveling.”
“That was Vandalia, Troy and today,” Cahill said. “Big games … say what you want. Sometimes kids put too much pressure on themselves maybe to finish the job.”
Tatum was the lone Ram with two hits. Nickoson added a double.
“Our kids just keep coming. They pressure the defense and make people have to make plays,” Rettinger said. “We did a good job of laying off some borderline pitches and giving guys some takes even on 3-1s to force their pitchers to go full count so we could run a little bit.
“It’s a fun group because at the beginning of the year I didn’t know how good we were, even when we were winning some games. We kind of ran through a gauntlet of some D-I teams, and we stood up to that pretty well. I think playing 17 D-I teams in a season gets you ready for anything.”
Rettinger said before the game that a by-committee approach on the mound was necessary after weather issues stretched out the Rams’ district semifinal against Taylor.
“Four days to play one game kind of wore our pitching out a little bit,” Rettinger said. “I was really proud of King and Schroeder for gutting out a couple innings.
“Montana threw 17 pitches yesterday. He wasn’t throwing that hard today, but he had multiple pitches over the plate. The thing with Montana is you have to beat him. He’s not going to walk a lot of guys. The kid’s 8-0 for a reason, and six of those wins are in relief. That tells you how much we’re losing all the time.”
Allgaier admitted his arm was a bit tired, but he was determined to stand up and make a difference.
“It feels good,” Allgaier said. “It feels like I contributed a little bit more being a senior … it feels like I actually did something. It’s just bigger. It means more to me and the other seniors.”
WP — Montana Allgaier (8-0); LP — Kenten Egbert (3-2); HR — T: Zach Losey. Records: R 24-6, T 25-4