Prep baseball: Wintry weather can’t stop Ross from improving to 5-0

Mother Nature dared Ross High School’s baseball team to play a game Wednesday.

The Rams did just that and managed to get a win in the process, pushing their perfect record to 5-0.

“With the weather lately, when we saw it was going to be dry, we said, ‘If we can play, let’s play,’ ” Ross coach Jason Rettinger said after his crew battled through frigid temperatures and snow flurries to edge visiting Goshen 3-2.

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“I appreciate Goshen coming all the way out here. I thought the kids showed a little toughness because I’m sure it wasn’t easy swinging a bat or getting a grip on a baseball. But I will say this: I sent out a text to the team and said, ‘If I can get the field ready, do you want to play?’ Every single kid said, ‘Absolutely, let’s do it.’ That’s a good sign for us.”

The Rams are coming off a memorable 25-6 season that included the Southwest Ohio Conference championship and a trip to the Division II regional semifinals, where they lost to Columbus DeSales. It also included 14 seniors.

“These guys saw what last year’s team did. It was a good example of how to work, and we’ve talked about it,” Rettinger said. “But I think they’re to the point where they get kind of tired of hearing about it. They want to be their own team.

“We may not be young, but we’re inexperienced. We don’t have an everyday, 1-through-9 swing in the lineup from last year. But they’re working hard. I think we’re going to be pretty good by the time we get to the end because I think they want to be really good.

“Honestly, I’ve got such a good coaching staff, I think they’ll get ’em there. It’s just going to take a little while. As fun as last year was, it’s kind of exciting to see a new group and what they can do.”

Ross has played six games this season, though one turned out to be a tie in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The Rams have outscored their opponents 39-8, and the pitching has been outstanding with a team earned run average of 0.97.

On Wednesday, Trevor House, Cooper Shields and Montana Allgaier combined on a one-hitter with 10 strikeouts. They also issued five walks and hit two batters.

“For the most part, they were hitting their spots,” said senior catcher Andrew Beebe, who had three of the seven Ross hits. “They weren’t really connecting with the ball, and we were getting a lot of outs behind them. I thought our defense was awesome.”

House went the first three innings, Shields pitched the next three to get the win, and Allgaier finished for the save.

“We walked more guys than we would’ve liked, but I probably couldn’t throw 80 percent strikes on a day like this, so we’ll take it,” Rettinger said. “We’re pretty young on the mound. We’re throwing a lot of juniors.

“Young guys walk people and don’t challenge enough and don’t have good offspeed, but these guys are working at it. When we went to Tennessee, I saw some really good pitching and some guys really attacking the zone with multiple pitches. I think that’s what we’re going to have to be because we’re not going to score 15 runs a game.”

Despite allowing just one single — a run-scoring hit by Brett Dietrich in the first inning — the RHS hurlers were challenged all the way through.

The Rams got RBIs from Logan Fuller and Brock Tatum, yet stranded eight runners. The game-winning run came in the third inning when Clay Maggard let himself get caught in a rundown between first and second, and House scampered home from third.

“I feel like you have to be able to do all that little stuff,” Rettinger said. “On a day like today, I felt like we just had to put the guys in motion. We stole a bunch of bases, and I think we got thrown out once. I’ll take that all day long.”

The Warriors (2-1) had a runner erased on a failed squeeze attempt in the second. Losing hurler Logan Decker pitched the first 2.2 innings and Nate Billingsley finished for the visitors.

“On days like this when the ball’s not going to fly out and you’re not going to get a lot of sacrifice flies, you’ve got to be able to execute your bunts, and we didn’t do that,” Goshen coach Greg Tissot said. “If we get our squeeze down and we do our pickoff play correctly, I think we win 3-2.”

Both teams are back in action Thursday, the Warriors at Batavia and Ross at Hamilton. Rettinger said Paul Schroeder will start on the hill against Big Blue.

As strong as the Rams’ pitching has been thus far, they have yet to use Fuller, their projected No. 1 guy. He’s been working through an elbow issue and saw his first action in the field (at first base) Wednesday.

Beebe did a lot of catching last year, but only had 37 official at-bats and hit .189. He’s nearly doubled his average to .350 this season and wasn’t about to complain about playing in Wednesday’s cold weather.

“Every at-bat hurt for sure,” he said. “But I was still happy to play and happy to be out there.”

Goshen 110-000-0—2-1-0

Ross 111-000-x—3-7-0

WP — Cooper Shields (1-0); LP — Logan Decker (0-1); S — Montana Allgaier (2). Records: G 2-1, R 5-0

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