LIBERTY TWP. — It’s called Ram Pride, and it was on full display Tuesday at Lakota East High School.
The Badin Rams weren’t perfect against La Salle in a Division I district baseball semifinal, but they were lights out in clutch situations, earning a 2-1 win over the Lancers to earn a first-ever spot in a D-I district title game.
Luke Tabler singled in the fifth and advanced to second on a passed ball before coming all the way around to score when Josh Hegemann’s grounder to third was thrown into right field as the Rams won their 20th straight game.
“I was proud of the way our guys battled through,” Badin coach Brion Treadway said. “That was a gritty win. In a 20-game win streak, you are going to have gritty wins, so that is not our first gritty win. These guys have been in games like this before. I am just excited to be able to coach these guys and have the opportunity to practice with these guys again.”
Hegemann earned the save, coming on in relief of Chase Hopewell.
The junior left-hander inherited a 2-0 count and two runners on in the sixth, inducing a ground out to end the threat.
In the seventh, Hegemann yielded a pair of walks, the second intentional, before getting a punch out to end the game, prompting a wild celebration out of the Badin dugout.
“It felt pretty good,” Hegemann said. “It was a good team win.”
When asked if he felt pressure coming on in relief in a tough spot, Hegemann said it is easier with such a good group of teammates backing him up.
“No, not at all,” Hegemann said. “I have those guys behind me, so no, there is no pressure at all.”
Badin (27-2) will head to Oak Hills on Thursday to face Turpin for a district crown at 5 p.m.
Hegemann and Treadway said the Rams are focused on their own play rather than what their opponents are doing.
“We will play anybody,” Hegemann said. “We just do what we can do, so it doesn’t matter what division or what opponent.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Treadway said. “We just want to keep practicing and keep playing as long as we can. This team enjoys each other, the coaches enjoy them, and we want to go as far as we can.”
Badin had to overcome an excellent game from La Salle starter Drew Nieman, who went the distance. He yielded seven hits and two runs while striking out two.
It was the second loss this year for the Lancers (14-12) against Badin. They dropped a 7-5 decision April 23.
“I thought Nieman threw an unbelievable game for them,” Treadway said. “He threw really well against us earlier in the year. He did everything right.”
Badin jumped out 1-0 in the third inning despite having Evan Schlensker thrown out at the plate.
Schlensker led off with a single, moving to second on a throwing error before trying to score on Hegemann’s single.
La Salle right fielder Luke Thiemann threw a dart to third baseman Vincent Abbatiello and his throw home was perfect to nail Schlensker.
The Rams didn’t quit, however, as Hegemann stole second and scored easily on junior Kaden Kimbrell’s rope up the middle.
The Lancers tied it up in the fifth as Abbatiello drew a walk, moved to second on a balk and advanced to third on a wild pitch before scoring on Jake Lawson’s suicide squeeze.
Sergio DeCello had two hits, A.J. Enginger reached based twice and Ryan Kirkendall had a single for the Rams.
Spencer Giesting allowed two hits, four walks and struck out four as the Rams’ starting pitcher. Badin issued six walks in the game.
“The walks we have to get rid of,” Treadway said. “I am not sure we had a clean inning the entire, so in games like this, we have to constantly be on our toes.”
Treadway then displayed a big smile while watching his team celebrate.
“We just want to get as many practices in as we can,” Treadway said. “That’s our goal. We just want to keep rolling. I enjoy being around this team and they enjoy being around each other.”
La Salle 000-010-0—1-4-1
WP — Chase Hopewell (6-0); LP — Drew Nieman (3-2); S — Josh Hegemann (2). Records: L 14-12, B 27-2
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.