The varsity baseball team traveled to Hamilton High School on Sunday and Monday to take on Loveland in the District Finals. As has been the case with all spring sports this season, the weather once again played a major role.
The two teams got underway Sunday night about 5:30 following the conclusion of the game ahead of theirs between Butler and Moeller.
Neither team could score in the first inning and the game headed to the second tied, 0-0. After putting Loveland down in the top of the second, junior pitcher Jared Lieberman helped himself with a huge two-out hit to drive in two runs and give the Elks a 2-0 lead heading to the third inning. At the time, no one knew that would eventually be the game-winning hit. Neither team could score in the third or fourth inning and the Elks took a 2-0 lead to the fifth. They got themselves in all sorts of trouble, but escaped while only allowing one run to score to maintain the lead, 2-1, heading to the bottom of the fifth. At that point, the skies opened up and the field eventually became unplayable so the game was suspended and rescheduled for Monday night at 6:00 PM.
When the game resumed last night, the Elks quickly put pressure on the Tigers defense thanks to two fielding errors which put runners on first and third with one out. A ground ball which Loveland tried to turn into a double play was beaten out by the Elks runner which allowed Ryan Stahl to score and increase the lead to 3-1 heading to the sixth. Junior pitcher Shea Hendrixson then took the mound for the Elks and promptly walked the first two Tiger hitters. Following a sacrifice bunt which put runners on 2nd and 3rd with only one out, Hendrixson turned up the heat and struck out the next two batters to send the game to the bottom of the sixth with the Elks in front, 3-1. Senior Riley Poulton led off the bottom of the sixth with a single and that was followed by a walk to put runners on first and second. A wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third and Hendrixson, much like Lieberman on Sunday, helped himself with a base hit to score another run and stretch the Elks lead to 4-1. Following a fly out to center field, the Elks had runners on second and third with only one out. A strikeout and a walk loaded the bases with two outs and gave the Elks a chance to blow the game wide open. Unfortunately, the next batter struck out and the game headed to the 7th inning with the Elks in front, 4-1. After retiring the lead off hitter, the next two batters drew walks to put runners on first and second with one out and bring the tying run to the plate. However, just like he had done the previous inning, Hendrixson struck out the next two batters and the Elks claimed the District championship with a 4-1 win setting off a wild celebration which culminated in a dog pile near the mound.
The win, the team’s sixth straight, ran their record to 18-10 and sent them to the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row, a first for the storied baseball program here. They will now face the Mason Comets on Thursday night at 5:00 PM at Marge Schott Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line.