ROSS TWP. — Ross High School’s baseball program continues to build on its tradition. Zach Ungermann is happy to do his part.
The junior left fielder is a newcomer to the Rams this season, having transferred in from Redondo Beach, Calif. He’s hitting a vigorous .480 and leading the unbeaten squad with 13 RBIs.
“I came here over the summer not really expecting anything,” Ungermann said Wednesday after host Ross took care of Butler County rival Edgewood 13-9. “I heard Ross baseball had a good program. I wasn’t too sure what to think between California baseball and Ohio baseball, but these guys have surprised me.
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“They’ve definitely taken me under their wing and accepted me pretty well, and I’m really grateful for that. They do like to mess around with me a little bit, things I say and pronounce, but it’s all good and fun. I wouldn’t trade the world for these guys right now.”
Ungermann singled, doubled and drove in three runs in Wednesday’s triumph, and teammate Tyler Hoover did the same. Trevor House contributed a triple and two RBIs.
Ross pushed its record to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Southwest Ohio Conference under first-year coach Ben Toerner. The two-time defending champion Rams and Little Miami are locked in a tie atop the SWOC standings.
“It’s coming together,” said Toerner, whose squad has a 99-20 margin of victory this season. “One day we’re good at one thing and bad at something else and the next day it’s the opposite, but we’re learning every day. Once they do put it all together, this team can be real dangerous.”
Edgewood (5-4, 3-1) put up a good fight after falling into a 13-3 hole in the first three innings, but that mountain was simply too steep to climb.
Cougars coach Ralph Lunsford preferred to focus on the bright side and the fact that his team gets another crack at Ross on Friday at Edgewood. The starting pitchers are expected to be House for the Rams and Mason Whiteley for the Cougars.
“These guys don’t have any quit. I don’t think I can say that enough,” Lunsford said. “I’m not ever happy after a loss, but I sure am awful proud of the way we battled back from 13-3. We’re so young … I think we’re going to keep getting better and better. If we continue to mature, I think we ought to be a little harder to handle later on.”
Whiteley is one of those youngsters and contributed three hits and four RBIs. The sophomore shortstop mans the leadoff spot in Edgewood’s batting order.
Whiteley credited Ross for its offensive prowess and said the Cougars needed to tip their collective cap to the Rams on Wednesday. But he’s sure Edgewood will be ready for Round 2 on Friday.
“They jumped on us early and we were a little shook up, but we kept our minds straight and made it a battle all the way to the last inning,” Whiteley said. “I’m proud of our guys for staying with it.
“There’s something different about this team. It’s a good baseball team because we trust each other and love each other. There’s not one single person I wouldn’t do anything for, and I’m sure my guys feel the same way about me.”
Ross knocked EHS starter Kody McCarley off the mound in two-plus innings as the hosts scored seven times in the second and five times in the third. Alex Gavern and Tyler Fields finished on the hill for the Cougars.
“I had a 2-1 game in mind coming into this one,” Lunsford said. “Give credit to Ross. They were swinging it. They put the ball in play and put it in play hard. There’s a reason they’re 8-0.
“It wasn’t Kody’s day today, but he was one of those guys in the dugout that just kept picking people up. I love looking in our dugout because sometimes you don’t know if we’re up 13-3 or down 13-3. Maybe that’s a sign of maturity and progress for our young team.”
Paul Schroeder and Nick Arno combined on a six-hitter for the Rams, but it was an eventful six-hitter that included nine strikeouts, eight walks and four hit batsmen. Schroeder picked up the win with 4.2 innings of work as the starter, with Ross committing three errors.
“We’ll take a SWOC win even when they look like that,” Toerner said. “It’s not easy to sit back and watch that stuff, but having the lead makes it easier to watch, that’s for sure. It’s something we’ll address in the next couple days. I thought Schroeder threw really well. He got a little tired at the end.
“We got the bats out today, and I was very happy to see that. We did a real nice job of hunting the fastball, which is something we talk about. But we’re struggling when we get that lead to put people away right now. That killer instict is something we’re still trying to develop.”
Keegan Nickoson, Eric Guckiean and Ethan Mills plated a run apiece for the Rams. Cooper Shields added two hits.
“We were just trying to barrel some balls up, put them in play and keep putting pressure on them,” said Ungermann, who hits in the cleanup position. “I’m confident at the plate. I just try to tell myself, ‘Don’t think. Just hit. See the fastball, attack it, don’t get too deep in the count.’ ”
Ungermann is originally from Southwest Ohio, spending the first few years of his life in the Colerain Township area before moving to the West Coast.
“I’m familiar with the area. I’d come back every summer and winter to visit, and my grandparents live in Colerain,” Ungermann said. “My mom missed her parents and the rest of her family, so we just decided to move back.”
Wyatt Weaver slammed a two-run double and Shane Watts also drove in a run for Edgewood.
WP — Paul Schroeder (2-0); LP — Kody McCarley (3-1). Records: E 5-4, 3-1 SWOC; R 8-0, 5-0 SWOC