Baseball: Houston beats Fairlawn 6-2 at Day-Air Ballpark


DAYTON — Houston had a couple rough stretches in regular season but is playing better heading into tournament play. The Wildcats showed their improvement on Saturday.

Houston beat Fairlawn 6-2 in a Shelby County Athletic League game at Day-Air Ballpark.

It was the last scheduled regular-season game for both squads and served as a bookend for both. The Jets beat Fairlawn 11-3 in a season opener on March 25.

“We’ve got everybody healthy now, and we’re starting to play well,” Houston coach Dan Barker said.

Houston improved to 8-13 overall with the win and 4-8 in SCAL play, good for a fourth-place finish. Saturday’s victory was the second straight for the squad, which beat Jackson Center 7-3 on the road on Thursday.

“Our pitching has been really solid the last two weeks,” Barker said. “We played Loramie tough (a 2-1 loss on May 4). We played some good close games. We just haven’t had the two-out hit yet. Which I hope that’s coming.”

The Wildcats came up with big at-bats when they needed to on Saturday.

The Jets took an early lead. After two players drew walks, Owen Hershberger hit a double to right field to drive in one run in the top of the second.

The Wildcats tied it in the third, then ran away with four runs in the fourth.

Luke Crim led off the inning with a single on a line drive to right. He stole second, and Gabe Dershem then reached first on a dropped third strike. Rusty Vondenhuevel drew a walk to load the bases, then Reagan Steiner drew a walk, which forced across a run and gave Houston a 2-1 lead.

Tanner Voisard reached after a pop fly was mishandled in the infield. Two runs scored on the error. Steiner scored on a passed ball before the end of the inning to push the gap to 5-1.

Houston scored one run on an error in the sixth.

“Defensively, our magic number seems to be six,” Barker said. “When we score six runs, we don’t lose very many games. So today, we got six. Let’s hope we can keep that trend continuing.”

AJ Edwards picked up the win on the mound. He pitched five innings in relief of Crim and gave up one earned run on five hits and two walks while striking out eight.

Edwards was named the game’s MVP.

“Everything was working with him,” Barker said. “He came in and was fantastic, fantastic.”

Crim was 2 for 4 at the plate. Steiner hit a triple.

Joseph Bernardi was charged with the loss for Fairlawn. He gave up three hits and walked three batters while striking out nine; all five runs scored while he was on the mound were unearned.

Ethan Elliott was 2 for 4 at the plate for the Jets.

Fairlawn had six hits but committed three errors; the Wildcats finished with four hits and didn’t commit any errors.

Houston is the No. 15 seed in the Dayton Division IV sectional and will start tournament play on Monday by hosting No. 17 Springfield Emmanuel Christian (6-12); Crim is expected to start on the mound. If victorious, the Wildcats will travel to No. 5 South Charleston Southeastern (16-9) on Wednesday.

Barker said the entire team is playing better, and he’s hopeful the squad can make a postseason run.

“The last two games, they’ve came ready to play. And that’s been the most important thing, keeping their heads in the game for all seven innings,” Barker said. “When they do that, they surprise themselves at how well they can play.”

It was a rare league game to take place at a neutral site. Houston has played several games at the Dayton Dragons’ stadium, and Barker said it’s a fun experience for everyone.

“It’s amazing for one, but we’ve got to make certain that we get this dugout every single time, because we’re undefeated every time that we’re the home team here,” Barker joked. “Lehman switched it out on us last year. But yeah, as long as we’re home team, we feel like this is Houston south.”

The Jets dropped to 8-14 overall with the loss and 3-9 in SCAL play; they tied with Jackson Center for fifth place in league standings.

Fairlawn was voted the No. 16 seed in the Dayton D-IV sectional. The Jets are scheduled to open postseason play by hosting Twin Valley South (4-12) in a sectional final on Wednesday; if victorious, they will likely travel to No. 1 Russia (20-4) for a district semifinal on May 20.

Reach Sidney Daily News editor Bryant Billing at 937-538-4822, or follow @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook or @TopBillingSport on X (Twitter).

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