MASON — It didn’t happen too often this season, but when the chips were down Eaton’s baseball team was able to find a way to come out on top.
And when the Eagles faced a 2-0 deficit late in their first regional semifinal game in 31 years, the belief was this team was going to find a way once again.
And they nearly did.
Eaton put up a fight but came up short, falling 2-1 to No. 20 Delaware Buckeye Valley in the Division II, Region 8 semifinals on Thursday, June 2 at Mason.
“Great ballgame. But shoot, just didn’t get enough hits” Eaton coach Bob Ebright said. “I thought we swung it well. I thought we had some good outs, tough outs. I thought they made some plays. Hats off to them. Hats off to their pitcher. I thought he threw outstanding. I thought he kept us off balance at times. Just kind of came up a little short today.”
With the loss, Eaton ended its most successful season since 1991. This year the Eagles won league, sectional and district championships while tying a school record for wins with 21.
Eaton finished the season 21-6.
Against Buckeye Valley though hits and even base runners were hard to come by.
Eaton had just two hits, both in the sixth inning. Brock Ebright singled to center to the leadoff the inning. Two outs later and after moving to second on passed ball, he scored on a single to right by Reid Tinstman. The inning ended when the Buckeye Valley left fielder made a running catch of a line drive by Christian Reyna down the left field line.
Eaton managed just five base runners for the game.
Buckeye Valley had just two hits and four base runners off Eaton pitcher junior Brady Rice, who also struck out eight. The Barons had just three balls leave the infield, but two proved costly.
Buckeye Valley got a double to leadoff the third inning. The runner moved to third on a ground out then scored on a squeeze bunt for a 1-0 lead.
The Barons made it a 2-0 game with a home run an inning later.
Those were the only two base runners for Buckeye Valley until the sixth. In the sixth, they had a batter hit by a pitch and another was intentionally walked. The inning ended when Eaton catcher Theo Winings threw out a runner trying to steal third.
“I thought we competed our butts off. I thought we had some great at bats. I thought we played well defensively. I thought we threw the ball well, we just came up a little short today,” coach Ebright said. “And that’s baseball.”
Eaton will graduate five seniors who have made significant contributions to the program – Brady Davis, Jakob Keller, Reyna, Winings and Kobe Wise.
“Every single one of them was a major part of the program. They will be welcomed back every single time we have practice and hopefully, they’re going to remember this and hopefully we can continue to build on what they started,” Ebright said. “The five seniors, this team, just what a phenomenal year. I believe we can build on it and I told the seniors that hopefully you started a building block, a tradition, that is a standard around here anymore, competing for league titles, competing for districts, being at regionals. I can’t say enough about their leadership this year and hopefully, we can only continue to grow as a team and a program. More importantly probably continue to grow as a program and understand the next step we have to take to win a game like this.”