MIAMISBURG — After a promising start to its district semifinal game, the bats for Eaton’s baseball team fell silent.
After jumping out to a 3-1 lead and collecting three hits in the first inning, the Eagles managed just two hits the rest of the game and suffered a 9-3 loss to surging Valley View in a Division II District semifinal game on Tuesday, May 25 at Miamisburg High School.
With the loss, Eaton finished the season with a 13-10 record. Valley View improved to 16-12 and won its 10th straight game. The Spartans fell in the district finals to Hamilton Badin two days later.
“A lot of credit to Valley View and [Coach] Gentry,” Eaton coach Patrick Flanagan said. “They hit the ball extremely well today. Hit it all over the yard and, you know, we got beat today. Our boys never gave up, we continue to scrap out [at bats] and work hard, but at the end of the day they just were better than us today. All the credit goes to them.”
Down 1-0 in the bottom of the first, Eaton’s offense quickly went to work.
Leadoff batter Travis Pittman was hit by a pitch then stole second. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brock Ebright to tie the game at 1-1
Theo Winings followed with a single. Two batter later, Jakob Keller homered to left to give Eaton a 3-1 lead. Brady Rice followed with a walk and Christian Reyna singled to right.
That prompted a pitching change for the Spartans which proved to be the game changer.
“I think [Holden] Caplinger came in, and one, he threw a ton of strikes but he mixed [his pitches] extremely well. He flipped [the] breaking ball in there and kept us off balance and we continued to put the ball in play, but [hits] weren’t falling for us today, and they played good defense,” Flanagan said. “We just couldn’t scrap any more out than that.”
Valley View tied the game at 3-3 in the third.
Two innings later, the Spartans took control, scoring four times in the fifth and added two more in the sixth.
Eaton went hitless until the fourth when Reyna doubled to left center. Rice had the Eagles’ final hit of the game, a single in the sixth.
For Eaton, this was the first time since 2011 the team has been this deep into the tournament, and that’s something Flanagan hopes his program will build on.
“I feel like a lot of that is a credit to the boys,” Flanagan said. “They work extremely hard and they want it. They want to put Eaton baseball on the map and it’s one of those things we haven’t been able to get over the hump, but I think the more opportunities that we get to be in that situation, the better off we’ll be in years to come. We’ll just keep working hard and doing the right things and grinding it out and we’ll break through.”
Flanagan said its been a roller coaster of a season for his team, which finished second in the SWBL Southwestern Division.
“Up and down. We play three or four games and look really good and then three or four games and struggle, and just finding that consistency is a big thing that we’re going to work hard to do in the offseason,” he said. “We’ll just keep doing the right things and keep working and hopefully we’ll get over the hump.”
Eaton will lose six seniors to graduation — Dawson Blaylock, Travis Pittman, Nate Crammer, Tyler Laycox, Craig Posey and Jake White — with Blaylock and Pittman being the only starters of the group.
“You know all of them, all six of them meant a lot to the program and did a lot for us,” Flanagan said. “Mookie [Dawson Blaylock] and Pitt [Travis Pittman], I feel for them. It’s one of those things – it’s never an easy thing to do, to walk off the field your senior year after a loss, and it happens to most of us at some point in time. But they’ll go on and be successful in whatever they do, because they’re great kids, they’re great human beings and [with] the work ethic that’s been instilled in them, they’ll be successful and I wish them all the luck.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr