By Josh Brown
TROY — Troy Christian’s baseball team was looking to build momentum heading into next week’s sectional tournament.
The Eagles found out Saturday, however, just how slippery a thing momentum can be.
Taking on Dayton Christian — which had already clinched the Metro Buckeye Conference championship — to begin a doubleheader, Troy Christian fell behind 9-0 thanks to a series of early errors, only to fight back and close to within two runs at 9-7. But trailing by three heading into the seventh, the Eagles surrendered a nine-run inning as the Warriors put away an 19-7 victory Saturday at Troy Christian.
“We came back,” Troy Christian coach Tony Ferraro said. “We got behind 9-0 and got back to 9-7. We were competing, but we just ran out of gas there in that last inning. They came out and hit the ball really well, we made too many mistakes, and sometimes you’ve just got to give the other team credit.”
The Eagles — who dropped their eighth straight and fell to 7-12 with the loss and finished third at 6-4 in the MBC — gave up a pair of earned runs in the top of the first inning and then seven more runs in the next two innings, with six of those being unearned. Dayton Christian (16-5, 10-0 MBC), already with a 5-0 lead after two, scored four unearned runs in the third inning alone, all of which came with two outs.
But in the bottom of the third, Troy Christian finally woke up.
Charlie Wolfe reached on an error with one out to get things started, and Andrew Strait and Ethan Twiss both drew walks. After Dayton Christian starter David Moyer got a strikeout for the second out, Louden Saulbeamer came up with a clutch two-out single, driving the first pitch he saw for two RBIs. Tyler Jackson then ripped an RBI single down the line in right field, and Carson Kindred hit an RBI single that hit off the pitcher and into left field. An error off the bat of Caleb Twiss scored another run, and suddenly Troy Christian was only down 9-5.
Starter Nathan Waltz held the Warriors in check in the fourth and left the game in the fifth with the bases loaded and two outs, but reliever Zach Seagraves got a groundout to end the threat with no extra damage. And in the bottom of the fifth, RBI singles by Kindred and Jason Blake cut the Dayton Christian lead to two at 9-7. The Warriors picked up another unearned run in the sixth, though, and carried a 10-7 lead into the final inning.
But in the seventh, Dayton Christian got a single, a stolen base and an RBI single to begin the inning, then the Warriors loaded the bases with no outs, got another run-scoring single and an RBI sac fly to make it 13-7 before an out was finally recorded. A run-scoring error, a double steal of home and another RBI single made it 16-7 with two outs, and three straight hits drove in runs to cap off the nine-run inning and make it a 12-run game.
“We’re very young, and our kids did not give up. That’s a good sign,” Ferraro said. “But we can’t make those kinds of mistakes and still win ballgames against the league champion. (The last inning) was tough.”
Ethan Twiss finished the game 2 for 3 with a double, Kindred was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and Saulbeamer was 2 for 3 with two RBIs. Waltz took the loss, striking out three but walking five, hitting one and giving up nine hits and nine runs, three earned, in 4 1-3 innings of work.
Troy Christian — which was 8-10 in the regular season last year before scoring a couple of upsets in the tournament and finally falling in the sectional championship game — will enter the Division III tournament as a No. 15 seed, traveling to No. 14 Greeneview on Monday with a game at No. 4 Anna awaiting the winner in the second round.
“We’ve got one more game today, and then we go to Greeneview Monday in the tournament,” Ferraro said. “We’re hoping to turn it around real quick so we can be ready for Monday. Last year, we made a good tournament run, and that will be our goal again this year. Everybody starts out 0-0 in the tournament. Even though we’ll be playing a couple teams with better records than us to start the tournament, I think we’re going to make a run at them.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.