TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — A wire-to-wire win and a third straight trip to the district tournament.
The third-seeded Eastern baseball team never trailed and earned its third straight Division IV sectional championship, on Tuesday night in Meigs County, as the Green, White and Gold defeated visiting Pike Eastern by a 6-1 count.
Eastern (14-7) took a 1-0 lead in with two outs in the bottom of the first inning, as Kaleb Hill doubled and then scored on an Ethen Richmond single.
After back-to-back scoreless, hitless frames, the hosts broke through again in the bottom of the fourth, when Josh Brewer drove in Richmond.
In the bottom of the fifth, Eastern’s lead grew to 4-0, as Hill scored on a double steal, then Richmond scored on a Brewer single.
The host Eagles scored two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, as Hill drove in Colton Reynolds, and a wild pitch brought home Coleman.
Pike Eastern scored the game’s final run in the top of the seventh, as Evan Leist reached on an error and was driven in by Parker Clemmons.
“The way that we won and the way the team played, I couldn’t be more proud of them,” EHS head coach Brian Bowen said. “All of the things that we’ve worked on all year long, they’ve really put a lot of things together, not just on the field performance-wise, but as a team. It’s the best that we’ve functioned as a team all year, so I was excited to see us win and do it that way.”
Coleman earned the pitching victory in six shut out innings for the hosts, striking out nine batters, walking four and allowing allowing five hits. Richmond pitched the final frame for the victors, allowing one unearned run and one hit, while striking out one batter.
“Austin (Coleman) did a tremendous job,” Bowen said. “He didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but he battled through it and didn’t make things worse. When he did get in bad spots, he was very mentally tough. He pitched a tremendous game, then Ethen (Richmond) came in at the end and did an outstanding job to close it out for us.”
Parker Clemmons suffered the loss in a complete game for the Brown and Orange, allowing six runs, on six hits, three walks and three hit batters. Clemmons struck out four batters in the setback.
Hill and Richmond both marked two hits, two runs scored and one run batted in to lead the victors, with both of Hill’s hits being doubles. Coleman singled once and scored once, Brewer added a single and two RBIs, while Isaac Nottingham contributed a single and Reynolds chipped in with a run scored.
Austin Canaday led the guests with two hits in three at-bats.
The hosts committed three errors and left seven runners on base, while Pike Eastern had two errors and stranded nine runners.
In the last 13 seasons, Eastern has won 12 sectional titles. This is the 14th sectional championship in Bowen’s 17-year tenure as EHS head coach.
“For this team, this is their first one,” Bowen said. “The kids are excited to get a chance to play at Paint Stadium. It’s a beautiful field, so I’m glad that they get to do that. I’m sure they’re just excited to go play baseball.”
Eastern advances to Monday’s district semifinal in Chillicothe, where it will face the winner of Wednesday’s game between second-seeded Portsmouth Clay and seventh-seeded Sciotoville East.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.