Prep baseball: Three innings, a unique experience for CCS, New Miami

Cincinnati Christian’s Mitchell Smith (24) heads back to third base as New Miami’s Dalton Garrett awaits the throw during Thursday’s Division IV district semifinal at Indian Hill. That’s CCS coach Curtus Moak watching the play. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

caption arrowCaption
Cincinnati Christian’s Mitchell Smith (24) heads back to third base as New Miami’s Dalton Garrett awaits the throw during Thursday’s Division IV district semifinal at Indian Hill. That’s CCS coach Curtus Moak watching the play. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

Here’s what kind of Thursday it was for the Cincinnati Christian and New Miami prep baseball teams: The biggest influences were Mother Nature, a defective base and darkness.

Their Division IV district semifinal at the Midland complex was rained out Wednesday and rescheduled for Thursday. It was announced during the day that the contest would move to Indian Hill, which has a turf infield.

Inclement weather pushed the start time back from 5 to 6:15 p.m. Then, in the top of the third inning, New Miami’s Ronnie Bowman slid into second base and ripped it, and it took about 30 minutes to get the base out of the ground so it could be replaced.

PREP SOFTBALL COVERAGE

ExploreDivision II: Monroe 5, Franklin 0
ExploreDivision II: Ross 4, Badin 3
ExploreDivision III: Madison 12, Carlisle 4

And after three full innings, the umpires decided it was too dark to continue and suspended the game. Cincinnati Christian was leading 3-0.

“Ultimately, when a game has started, it’s up to the umpires to make the final call,” CCS coach Curtus Moak said. “They did talk to us and engage us in conversation, but they felt like the outfielders weren’t seeing it very well. It was a safety issue.”

“Our catcher that last inning had three passed balls. He told me he couldn’t see it from the trees and the darkness,” New Miami coach Zach Blyberg added. “It definitely affected that inning.”

The teams are scheduled to finish the game at Springboro on Friday at 5 p.m. The winner was slated to play Franklin Monroe in a district final Friday at Springboro … that contest has been moved to noon Saturday at Boro.

caption arrowCaption
New Miami catcher Trey Robinette hands Cincinnati Christian’s Cody Anderson his bat after a foul ball during Thursday’s Division IV district semifinal at Indian Hill. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

New Miami catcher Trey Robinette hands Cincinnati Christian’s Cody Anderson his bat after a foul ball during Thursday’s Division IV district semifinal at Indian Hill. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

caption arrowCaption
New Miami catcher Trey Robinette hands Cincinnati Christian’s Cody Anderson his bat after a foul ball during Thursday’s Division IV district semifinal at Indian Hill. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

CCS and New Miami now could play three straight days, not a favorable situation for pitching, while Franklin Monroe’s last game was Wednesday.

“There’s already teams up north in the regionals,” Blyberg said. “It’s something Division IV down here can learn from. Maybe leave half a week between Round 1 and Round 2. I don’t think we need a week.”

Even with a difficult stretch ahead, both coaches feel their teams are capable of getting through the district. Franklin Monroe was the No. 4 seed in the Dayton 1 sectional.

Mitchell Smith did the pitching for Cincinnati Christian on Thursday, and Wayden McIntyre was on the mound for New Miami. Neither hurler can throw Friday due to pitch-count rules.

caption arrowCaption
New Miami’s Donovan Howard strikes out on a pitch from Cincinnati Christian’s Mitchell Smith, but the ball gets past CCS catcher Cody Anderson and Howard made it to first base during Thursday’s Division IV district semifinal at Indian Hill. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

New Miami’s Donovan Howard strikes out on a pitch from Cincinnati Christian’s Mitchell Smith, but the ball gets past CCS catcher Cody Anderson and Howard made it to first base during Thursday’s Division IV district semifinal at Indian Hill. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

caption arrowCaption
New Miami’s Donovan Howard strikes out on a pitch from Cincinnati Christian’s Mitchell Smith, but the ball gets past CCS catcher Cody Anderson and Howard made it to first base during Thursday’s Division IV district semifinal at Indian Hill. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

If the teams are able to play Friday, Moak said he’ll come back with Alex Johnson. Blyberg will give the ball to Jaden Phillips.

The Cougars scored without a hit in the first inning as Smith walked and came home on Johnson’s sacrifice fly. Smith singled and scored on a wild pitch in the third, and Alex Bertram added a sacrifice fly to plate Noah Jordan (who walked).

CCS stole six bases in the first three innings.

“We play small ball,” Moak said. “My experience at this level is you don’t have power hardly in your lineup, let alone all the way through like a D-I level. So for me, we have to be bunters and stealers. We’ve got to be gritty.

“In a game like this when you’re throwing (No. 1 pitchers), you don’t count on scoring runs. You’re just trying to execute. I wanted to be aggressive early, try to get a couple runs and count on my ace to hold ’em.”

Blyberg’s Vikings stranded one runner in each inning and got singles from Trey Robinette and Robby Hundley.

“There’s been a lot of comebacks so far in the tournament. Our guys are going to keep battling,” Blyberg said. “We’re both D-IV and have small benches, so everyone’s going to be a factor.”

The Cougars (13-8) are seeded first in Cincinnati, while New Miami (10-15) is seeded fourth. CCS won their first meeting 11-1 in Miami Valley Conference play April 7.

The base situation was a first for both coaches. Tournament officials used multiple tools and struggled mightily trying to get the base out of its metal bracket.

caption arrowCaption
New Miami’s Robby Hundley takes a cut during Thursday’s Division IV district semifinal against Cincinnati Christian at Indian Hill. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

New Miami’s Robby Hundley takes a cut during Thursday’s Division IV district semifinal against Cincinnati Christian at Indian Hill. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

caption arrowCaption
New Miami’s Robby Hundley takes a cut during Thursday’s Division IV district semifinal against Cincinnati Christian at Indian Hill. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

“In four years, it’s never been lifted,” Moak said. “The metal on metal had rusted. That’s why it was so difficult to get out of the ground.”

• Two local games moved to Friday: Ross and Fenwick had their Division II district semifinals washed out by rain Thursday, and both will play Friday at 5 p.m.

Ross will be back at Oak Hills to face Taylor. Fenwick and Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy — who were scheduled to meet at Milford on Thursday — will square off at Princeton.

About the Author