NEW LEBANON — The lineup fell right where Greeneview needed it to be in the seventh inning.
Northeastern said, “No, thanks,” though and made the right move that led to end of the season for the Rams.
Greeneview baseball had the bases loaded in its final at-bat, but the Jets held on to win the sectional final game 3-1 on Monday at Dixie High School.
Trailing 3-1 with three outs left to prevent, Greeneview led the inning off with back-to-back hits from Trevor Moore and Kaden Knisley to get the tying run on base. A fly to right and ground ball to third advanced both runners into scoring position with two outs and brought Jarrod Mays, the Ohio Heritage Conference’s triple crown leader, to the plate.
Except before he could even get in the box, the home plate umpire directed him toward first. Mays, frustrated, tossed his bat down due to the intentional walk which had been issued with first base open.
“I actually said that to the kid who was on third base at that point, I said there’s no chance they pitch to him because I wouldn’t,” Greeneview head coach John-Marc Brooks said. “It would have been really nice had we’ve loaded the bases up prior, but that doesn’t always happen.”
Landon Gardner, hitting .371 for the year, had the opportunity to make the Jets regret the decision, and barreled the first pitch of the at-bat. A soft line drive hit toward third allowed the defense enough to make a leap and end the game.
“Our main contributors never really get caught fire,” Brooks said. “We did have a lot of help from the bottom of the lineup, but honestly the guys we normally have do a lot of heavy lifting were not able to make it happen today. Just kind of bad timing for us to run into that situation.”
The two highest scoring offenses in OHC play were held down by both pitching and defense by both sides. The Jets infield created outs in a variety of ways, from pop ups turned into double plays, to off balance throws due to the mound deflecting grounders, all of which stalled the Rams small ball game.
Keegan Phillips was stellar on the mound for the Rams though to keep his team in the game.
He struck out the first seven Northeastern hitters, topping his fastball at 84mph which hitters had trouble fouling off, while painting corners with breaking pitches to get several hitters looking.
For the game, Phillips allowed four hits and three walks to go with 12 total strikeouts. He ends the season as the league leader in strikeouts with 98, as well as wins with seven.
“Keegan did a great job keeping us in the game,” Brooks said. “You know, obviously one run, just that’s not going to win many games.”
After his initial seven strikeouts, two hits followed by two walks brought home the Jets first run in the third. A fielders choice scored the second before another out swinging ended the inning.
A pair of wild pitches following a one out single in the fifth set up and scored Northeastern’s third run.
Greeneview got the leadoff hitter on four times, but never had any cross the plate. The Rams got a two out double by Ben Myers and was brought home by Chase Walker to close the gap in the sixth.
Finishing the season with a 15-8 record, Greeneview’s entire lineup on Monday did not have a senior listed in it.
Brooks was pleased with the way his team didn’t need extra motivation at the end of the game and believes it can only bolster the squad for next season with the potential for almost everyone to return.
“They have great leadership. Kids that are stepping up here, they’re hard workers,” he said. “And so even whenever things aren’t going your way, when you’re a hard worker, you just keep grinding. And I think that’s their mentality and it even rubs off on the underclassmen. Underclassmen have just a never quit, never die attitude, and they didn’t today.”
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.