The final stretch of the regular season was a hilly ride for Ross High School’s baseball team, but it ended on a high note.
The Rams rallied from a 4-2 deficit Sunday afternoon to defeat Butler County rival Badin 5-4 before a big crowd at the RHS diamond.
“Sometimes we’ve just got to find something to motivate us, and I think Badin did that,” said Ross coach Jason Rettinger, whose squad moved to 20-5 after a 16-1 start. “We didn’t play well this week. We kind of stopped hitting. But we’re gritty. We just keep coming. They’ve got really good attitudes, and man, they stepped it up today.”
Ross scored three times in the bottom of the fifth inning, loading the bases with nobody out and marking runs on a sacrifice fly by Brock Tatum, a fielder’s choice grounder by Logan Fuller and a Badin error.
Badin had a runner on base in each of the last two innings before falling to 21-6.
“Baseball’s a grind,” said Fuller, a senior first baseman. “It’s five weeks of nonstop baseball. Everyone’s tired. It happens. You can’t win all of them. But Badin does bring out the energy. It’s a rival. You can’t come out flat against them.”
Winning pitcher Paul Schroeder gutted his way through six innings for the hosts and Montana Allgaier closed it out with an inning of relief work.
Ross will be at home Thursday to kick off Division II tournament play. The No. 3 seed will meet No. 8 Roger Bacon or No. 15 Batavia.
“We’re feeling good and trusting our pitchers and trusting our hitters,” Fuller said. “We’re trusting that we’re going to do the little things to win.”
Badin brought an eight-game winning streak to Ross. The visitors didn’t play poorly, but they weren’t as sharp as BHS coach Brion Treadway was expecting them to be.
“We didn’t help ourselves on the mound. We’ve got to get ahead and stay down in the zone, so I was a little disappointed in that,” Treadway said. “But our guys competed. That was a back-and-forth game, a great game for both teams going into the tournament. Emotions were high with some pressure situations, and that’s what we’re all going to run into moving forward.”
This will be the first season in the Division I tournament for Badin, the No. 5 seed in Cincinnati. Treadway’s crew will host No. 29 Princeton or No. 15 Harrison on Thursday.
“We just have to shake it off and come back for tournament time,” Badin sophomore first baseman Kaden Kimbrell said. “It’s just a loss. You lose some, you win some. Now we just need to focus our energy on us and make that state run.”
Kimbrell, Devon Valentino and Zac Wilson all had RBIs for Badin. Valentino tripled and Tyler Hargrove added a double.
Spencer Giesting pitched into the fifth inning for the visitors. Armed with a 4-2 lead, he hit Eric Guckiean with a pitch and gave up singles to Clay Maggard and Andrew Beebe to load the bases with nobody out.
Tatum’s sacrifice fly to left field off reliever Cade Boxrucker made it 4-3. Fuller then chopped a ball up the middle that was fielded by Badin second baseman Drew Holderbach. He threw the ball toward catcher Sam Runyan, Maggard was safe, and the ball got past Runyan. That allowed Beebe to score as well.
“We led off that inning with a hit batsman, which is never the way any coach ever in the history of baseball wants to start an inning off,” Treadway said. “And then Ross battled for two straight hits. They were tough to strike out. Their batters had really good approaches at the plate and made things happen.”
Boxrucker pitched one inning and Andrew Noelker finished for Badin. Schroeder only had one strikeout during his stint on the hill for Ross, but he earned Rettinger’s praise after giving up six hits and three earned runs.
“The only thing he couldn’t do today was get the leadoff man out,” Rettinger said. “We’re a little low on pitching right now, so we really needed an effort out of him. It was outstanding.”
Pinch-hitter Seth Klaiber led off the Badin seventh by lining a single to left field — Warren Clarke re-entered the game to run for him.
Daunte DeCello’s sacrifice bunt moved Clarke to second, and Holderbach’s ground out sent him to third. But Allgaier struck out Wilson to end the game.
Fuller launched a solo home run to left field in the first inning for Ross, and Keegan Nickoson and Beebe contributed two hits apiece. Fuller said it was important for Ross to remain even-keeled throughout the game.
“I told (the guys) we’re going to keep fighting,” he said. “Adversity’s going to strike, but we’re going to have to strike back. I love this team. When I saw Montana strike that last guy out, I was pretty ecstatic.”
“We were gritty at first, but they just effortlessly came right back at us,” Kimbrell said. “We had some good plays. We hit the ball. I’m not mad we lost. I’m mad how we lost.”
It’s the second straight year that Ross has defeated Badin 5-4. Prior to last season, they hadn’t met since BHS won 2-1 in 2011.
“We’ve had two night games back to back and a big afternoon game here, and those are three games that are easy to get up for,” said Treadway, with Badin beating Centerville on Friday and Hamilton on Saturday.
“Now it’s time for the tournament. We have a great attitude on the team. Guys aren’t making it bigger than it is. We’re trying to have good at-bats, throw good pitches and beat the team in front of us. We’re keeping it simple.”
Rettinger said he loves the Ross-Badin rivalry and all that comes with it.
“Brion and I are friends, so as soon as we were allowed to get back into this, we called each other up,” Rettinger said. “A game like this is pretty chatty … some of these kids play together in the summer … but it’s fun. It’s a nice measuring stick. Coming out on top shows where we are as a program.”
WP — Paul Schroeder (3-1); LP — Spencer Giesting (2-2); S — Montana Allgaier (3); HR — R: Logan Fuller. Records: B 21-6, R 20-5