By Josh Brown
MASON — The Tippecanoe baseball team finally faced a team that could hit its deep pitching staff.
The Red Devils held a 3-0 lead going into the fifth inning of Monday’s Division II district championship game against Ross, but the Rams put together a four-run fifth inning to take charge and held off Tippecanoe from there in a 6-3 win that ended the Devils’ season.
“This was one of the tougher losses we’ve had this season,” Tippecanoe coach Bruce Cahill said. “We came out ready to play and we got off to a great start. But you’ve got to give Ross credit. The kid that got the win was 8-0 going in, and their coach said six of those were in relief because they were hardly ever ahead in any of their games and battled back, so that’s a testament to them. You’ve got to give them credit.”
Tippecanoe — which finished the season 25-4 and won its first share of the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division title in its second season as a member of the league — had no-hit two straight postseason opponents, and the Devils had the pitcher that threw the first of those no-hitters on the hill again in Egbert.
The junior kept things rolling, too, pitching a perfect first three inning before giving up a one-out single in the fourth, but by then the Devils already had a 3-0 lead.
Tippecanoe took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Cole Barhorst, Josh Riebe and Egbert strung together three straight singles, with Egbert driving in the game’s first run. And the Devils added two more runs in the bottom of the third on a two-run homer by Zach Losey — who combined with Ian Yunker on a no-hitter in the Devils’ second tournament game last week.
“Kenten Egbert retired the first 10 batters he faced, we got back-to-back-to-back singles in the first inning offensively,” Cahill said. “Then Losey hit a ball in that inning about 370 feet that was caught just short of the fence — it looked like it was going out and probably would have at about any other place. But he came back his next time up and hit a home run, and it was 3-0.”
But the Rams finally broke through in the top of the fifth. E. Guckiean drove in Ross’ first run on a sacrifice fly, leaving no one on base and two outs. But a walk and a pair of singles loaded the bases, and back-to-back walks tied the score at 3-3 — and a wild pitch gave the Rams a 4-3 lead. A two-run error in the top of the seventh put the Devils’ back against the wall heading into their final at-bat, and a one-two-three inning put an end to the game.
“We’d left a lot of guys on base and had opportunities to put it away early … and then all of a sudden with one out in the fifth, we gave up a double, a wild pitch and a sac fly,” Cahill said. “Losey made a great throw to the plate, and we thought we had him. But regardless of whether or not he was safe, it’s still 3-1, nobody on base, two outs … and we couldn’t get out of the inning.
“It was one of those walk, hit, infield hit to load the bases, then we brought Yunker in, and walk, walk, strikeout but wild pitch and three runs score without them touching a ball. Then in the sixth, we had first and third with one out and our No. 3 hitter took a called third, then Egbert hit a rocket back up the middle that ricocheted off the pitcher’s glove right to the second baseman, and he threw him out. Just crazy stuff.”
Tippecanoe was outhit 7-6 in the game. Losey was 2 for 4 with a homer and two RBIs, Barhorst was 2 for 3 and Egbert had an RBI to lead the Devils. And on the mound, Egbert went 4 2-3 innings, striking out five but allowing four runs on four hits and two walks. Yunker pitched 1 1-3 innings with one strikeout, one hit and a pair of walks, and Mason McClurg pitched one perfect inning.
“We were inexperienced this year — we graduate 10 seniors, but six of those were starting varsity for the first time,” Cahill said. “We got a lot out of all of them. Overall, I felt like these guys gave us everything they had and played the best they could. And it turned out to be a pretty good year.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.