Baseball: Russia breaks through in 8th, beats Berne Union 4-0 in regional semifinal


SPRINGFIELD — After seven innings of close calls, Russia broke through in extra innings and beat Sugar Grove Berne Union 4-0 in a Division IV regional semifinal on Thursday at Carleton Davidson Stadium.

Russia advances to face South Charleston Southeastern (15-9), which beat Bradford 6-0 in the first semifinal on Thursday in Springfield. The Raiders beat Southeastern 6-2 in a regional semifinal last year.

The regional final is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. on Friday at Wright State University’s Nischwitz Field.

It’s the third consecutive regional final appearance for Russia (24-6), which won the D-IV state title last year.

“Our postgame talk was all about how impressed I was with our resilience,” Russia coach Kevin Phlipot said. “That game was more about the mental side of baseball than anything we’ve ever been a part of.

“… Nothing went our way. The calls didn’t. We were right on the edge three times, with a runner on third. …I was concerned about how many times we were going to be (excited), then get down and have to then go out there hold them.

“I was afraid one of those times, they were going to jump on us. But that’s where (pitcher) Xavier (Phlipot) came in. He was just ridiculous.”

Russia left several batters on base in regulation but broke through in the eighth.

Zane Shappie was hit by a pitch, then Braylon Cordonnier hit a bunt and reached on an error. They advanced to third and second on a wild pitch with Brayden Monnin at the plate. Monnin then walked on four pitches to load the bases.

With the infielders in, Hayden Quinter hit a hard grounder between first and second into right field for a single, which drove in two runs.

Quinter has been in a hitting slump lately.

“I went to him in the dugout in the eighth inning and said, ‘It’s going to come down to you. This game is going to come down to you,’” Phlipot said. “He took a tough called third strike I think in the first inning when we were ready to get the jump on them. I think on his second at bat he had a chance, too, with maybe two outs.

“I just told him to stay tough and mentally focused, and he did. He shot a ball up the middle, got us two runs, and we were off and running.”

Felix Francis then hit a grounder toward third, and William Bolton threw home. But the throw went passed the catcher, which allowed Monnin to score to boost the lead to 3-0.

Berne Union put in Austin Snyder for reliever Cade Pugh, and he struck out Jude Counts. But he then hit Ross Fiessinger with a pitch to load the bases, and Cooper Unverferth then hit a fly out to right field to drive in another run and increase the lead to four runs.

The Raiders retired Berne Union in order in the eighth to secure the win.

Xavier Phlipot, who is Kevin Phlipot’s nephew, got through eight innings on 94 pitches and gave up three hits and one walk while striking out three. Phlipot, a senior, has been a first team all-Shelby County Athletic League selection the last three years and picked up a win on the mound in Akron last June for the Raiders.

“That kid has won 26 or 28 ball games and has only lost two games in his life,” Kevin Phlipot said. “That’s why he’s out there; that’s why he gets the ball when it’s his time to pitch.”

It was the first time since 2018 the Southwest Div. IV regional was played at Carleton Davidson Stadium, which seats over 1,000 people. A contingent of about 500 Russia fans cheered the squad on.

“This is where it needs to be,” Phlipot said. “The other sites were not as prepared to hold an event like this. This is where it needs to be. These fans can watch a ballgame without any interference, without anything. It’s beautiful. (The regional) is where it needs to be and where it needs to stay.”

Russia left runners in scoring position three of the first five innings and did again in the sixth.

Monnin hit a line-drive double to right field with one out and moved to third on a passed ball, then Quinter drew a walk.

Francis hit a grounder to Clayton Moore at second base, and he threw home. Monnin slid home and appeared to get in under the tag, but the home plate umpire ruled Nate Nemeth (who went to catcher after leaving the mound) tagged him out.

Jude Counts then struck out to end the inning.

Berne Union went down in order in the bottom half, and Russia did in the top of the seventh. The Rockets went down in order in the bottom of the seventh, sending the game to extra innings.

Berne Union stayed in it early with some good defensive plays.

Russia loaded the bases with one out in the first after a single by Phlipot and walks drawn by Cordonnier and Monnin, but Nemeth struck out Quinter and drew a fly out by Francis to get out of the inning.

The Raiders left a runner on in the second. Shappie led off the third with a line-drive single to center, but the next three batters each flied out.

Francis drew a walk to start the fourth and stole second. He advanced to third on a wild pitch with one out, then tried to score on a suicide squeeze with Fiessinger at the plate. But after a ball that Fiessinger couldn’t hit, Francis was tagged out at home plate. Fiessinger then struck out for the third out.

Unverferth led off the fifth with a walk, but Phlipot then bunted and was thrown out at first, and courtesy runner Vince Borchers was thrown out advancing to third for a double play.

Nemeth pitched five innings and gave up two hits and four walks while striking out four batters. Pugh pitched four innings and gave up two earned runs on two hits and two walks while striking out two.

The Raiders had four hits and didn’t commit any errors. Berne Union had three hits and committed three errors.

Southeastern 6, Bradford 0

Southeastern (15-9) scored two runs in each the first and second innings to take control and dominated in the first of two regional semifinals on Thursday in Springfield.

The Railroaders stared Landon Wills, their No. 3 pitcher, with the hopes of saving ace Tucker Miller for Friday’s regional final.

Southeastern, which had a .295 team batting average entering Wednesday’s semifinal, hit early and often.

Leadoff hitter Gehrig Cordial drew a walk off Wills to start, then Jacob Alderson hit a sacrifice bunt. Austin Miller hit a single on a grounder to second, and Bradford then took out Wills and put in Miller.

Miller coaxed a ground out from pitcher Zach McKee, but Kason Spears then hit a 2-RBI single on a line drive to right field to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead.

Tucker Miller hit Southeastern’s Aidan Harbage with one out in the second, then walked Cordial with two outs. Harbage scored on a wild pitch, then Miller walked Alderson. Austin Miller then hit an RBI single on a ground ball to third to push across another run and increase the lead to 4-0.

Bradford didn’t get a hit off McKee until the fifth.

The Trojans added one run in each the fifth and sixth.

Bradford finishes 21-11 overall.

McKee pitched a complete game on 90 pitches. He gave up one hit and walked one batter while striking out nine.

Austin Miller was 3 for 4.

Tucker Miller gave up three earned runs on seven hits and five walks while striking out three batters.

Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.

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