Jason Rettinger was not surprised to learn that Columbus DeSales right-hander Greg Gilbert had allowed one walk all season going into Friday’s Division II regional baseball semifinal.
“I believe it,” the Ross High School coach said.
Gilbert (6-3), a junior, threw a three-hit shutout, striking out eight Rams and walking none as the Stallions advanced to Saturday’s regional final with a decisive 9-0 win at Mason in a game delayed one day by rain.
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DeSales (19-11) got its leadoff batter on in every inning and racked up five extra-base hits against three Ross pitchers while handing the Rams — making their first regional tournament appearance since 2001 — their first shutout loss of the season.
All three of Ross’ hits were singles and junior catcher Andrew Beebe was the only Ram to get as far as third, on a stolen base and throwing error. The other two Ross runners didn’t get past first.
“He wasn’t overpowering, but he really hit his spots,” Rettinger said of Gilbert. “Wherever their catcher set up, he hit the glove. He had nice movement. We didn’t barrel it up on him at all.”
Ross ace right-hander Thomas House (8-1) struggled with his control and pitched out of the stretch for most of his five-plus innings.
“They ran his pitch count up,” Rettinger pointed out. “I thought his stuff was good, but they put some really good swings on him. I thought he did a good job. When he came out, (DeSales) really barreled up some balls.”
The Stallions’ plan against House was to be aggressive, coach Tom Neubert said.
“Anytime you face a pitcher like that, you don’t know what to expect,” Neubert said. “We talked to enough people down here to know that he was the real deal and that we had to be aggressive swinging the bats. Greg being able to pitch with an early lead was huge.”
The Stallions jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead. Gilbert and senior catcher Drew McLuckie hit back-to-back singles to lead off the game, and Gilbert scored from third on Beebe’s throwing error trying to nail McLuckie stealing second. McLuckie scored on Ryan Corcrean’s ringing one-out double up the left-center field gap.
Gilbert retired the first eight batters he faced, three on strikeouts and the other five on ground outs, before Beebe dropped a bloop single into short right field, just out of the range of leaping second baseman Dmitri Bergados. Gilbert regrouped for an inning-ending strikeout of senior shortstop Tyler Flick.
The Stallions capitalized on House’s control problems to add a run in the fourth. Bergados walked to lead off the inning, went to second on House’s one-out walk of senior right fielder Jordan Miller and scored on Gilbert’s single to center field.
DeSales broke the game open in the sixth. Singles by the bottom two batters in the DeSales lineup prompted Rettinger to replace House with junior right-hander Montana Allgaier. House allowed five runs, six hits and seven walks while striking out nine Stallions.
Gilbert laid down a bunt in front of the plate that Beebe and senior Zach Evans both tried to field, but they ended up jostling each other and not making a throw. Allgaier got a strikeout before Velazquez drove a three-run double up the left-center field gap for a 6-0 lead.
Corcrean followed one out later with an RBI double down the left-field line.
The Stallions tacked on two runs in the seventh on when senior center fielder Joey Wright slipped on a Dylan Payne fly ball, turning it into an RBI triple, and pinch-hitter Nick Renken drove in Payne with a sacrifice fly.
Ross finished 25-6. DeSales will return to Mason at 4 p.m. on Saturday to face Chaminade Julienne for the regional title. The Eagles beat Waynesville 4-1 in Friday’s second semifinal.
WP — Greg Gilbert (6-4); LP — Thomas House (8-1). Records: D 19-11, R 25-6