Baseball: Russia beats Galion Northmor 6-2 in regional semi


CINCINNATI — Russia is on the cusp of earning its third consecutive regional title and state berth after winning its 14th straight game on Thursday.

The Raiders took control in the first two innings, and junior ace Braylon Cordonnier frustrated Galion Northmor hitters throughout in a 6-2 victory in a Division IV regional semifinal at Cincinnati Princeton High School.

Russia (26-4) advances to face Troy Christian (11-15) in a regional final at 5 p.m. on Friday at Princeton. The surging Eagles beat Bradford 13-8 in Thursday’s first semifinal.

Troy Christian shut out three opponents in postseason play before Thursday’s slugfest with the Railroaders. The Eagles lost their last eight regular-season games, but ace Judah Simmons, who started Thursday, and Carson Dyer, who pitched an inning in relief, have led the squad in tournament play.

“It’s who’s playing the best at this time, and I’d say this is their best ball they’ve played all year,” Russia coach Kevin Phlipot said. “They’ve got some guys who can swing it. They can put up some runs. If it’s Dyer, he shut Loramie out the other day.

“So we’re going have to work for it. We’re going to have to be a little cleaner than what we were tonight and hopefully, we can come out on top.”

Cordonnier struggled with his command at times, but he was hard to hit all night. He pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up one earned run on two hits and five walks while striking out nine batters.

He was 3 for 4 at the plate with an RBI triple that was part of a three-run second inning.

“When you’ve got the best player on the field, it helps,” Phlipot said of Cordonnier, who gave a verbal commitment to Marshall last fall. “At the plate, he roped some balls. He killed that triple to right field.

“Pitching wise, he wasn’t his sharpest. He just wasn’t in a groove. But I mean, he only gave two hits. So I mean, how can I complain, right? But nothing was easy. There was no easy inning. He’d get a quick out, then he’d walk a guy, or something would happen.

“But that’s a true test of his character, his makeup, his baseball IQ type, I guess you would say. When when you don’t quite have it or the mound doesn’t feel right or whatever is the issue, you just have to be mentally tough. Be the toughest one out there and just grit it. He just battled his butt off the whole way.”


Russia scored two runs in the first and had another taken off the board after an interference call at second base. Jude Counts hit an RBI single to right to drive in the second run.

The Golden Knights pulled within 2-1 in the bottom half. Cordonnier hit Cole Cuffman with a pitch, and he moved to second on a wild pitch and third on a single. Cuffman scored by stealing home when Russia catcher Cooper Unverferth threw to first to try to pick off a runner.

Cordonnier struck out the next batter for the second out, then picked off the runner at first to end the inning.

The Raiders scored three in the top of the second to take firm control.

With two outs, Felix Francis hit a line-drive single to left to push Unverferth across from third, then Cordonnier hit an RBI triple to right to push the lead to 4-1. Brayden Monnin hit an RBI single on a line drive to center to push the gap to four runs.

“Jumping on it early obviously is huge. We get the lead, we can really put the foot on the pedal, we can run more, we can be more aggressive,” Phlipot said. “It bit us there; we made more outs on the bases that I would have liked. It cost us a chance to maybe put it away earlier.

“But that’s who we are, so I live with those mistakes. We just talked about it; as long as they made the right read or at least an aggressive read, I’ll take that. We’ll live with that by any means.

“It wasn’t the cleanest game by any means, but just win and move on.”

Northmor took out starter Trevor Brubaker and put in Grant Bentley in the fourth. The Raiders didn’t score against him until the seventh, when they scored one run on three hits. Counts hit an RBI single with one out on a ground ball to short.

Cordonnier walked one and had a runner reach on an error in the seventh; he was removed and replaced by Monnin. Monnin walked one and gave up an RBI single, but the Golden Knights couldn’t push across any more.

Monnin was 3 for 4 and Counts was 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs. Francis was 1 for 2 with one walk.

Russia was ranked No. 4 in Div. IV in the final state coaches association poll, while Northmor was ranked No. 3. The Golden Knights finish 23-9.

The Raiders have advanced to regional finals the last four years. They lost 7-1 to Fort Loramie in 2021 and won regional titles the next two years, including in 2022, when they beat the Redskins 7-1.

Troy Christian 13, Bradford 8

Troy Christian didn’t give up a run in its first three postseason games but faced adversity in a Division IV regional semifinal on Thursday.

The Eagles endured it and pulled away in the seventh.

Troy Christian scored six runs in the top seventh and ran away to beat Bradford in the first regional semifinal of the day.

The Eagles scored six runs on three hits, three walks and one hit batter in the top of the fourth to take a 6-1 lead, then Bradford scored five runs on five hits and one walk in the bottom half to tie it.

Troy Christian took a 7-6 lead in the fifth. Paul McDonald hit a one-out single on a line drive to center, then Jacob Grossnickle was hit by a pitch with one out. Andrew Knostman drove in a run on a line-drive single to right field, but Grossnickle was thrown out advancing to third.

Bradford hit two singles in the bottom half and had runners on third and first with two outs. After a double steal attempt, Landon Wills was thrown out at home to end the inning.

The Railroaders loaded the bases on an error, single and walk in the sixth, but Wills hit a line out right at McDonald in center field for the third out.

Bradford ace Tucker Miller started on the mound and had to exit after the sixth after his pitch count neared 125, then Wills was brought in to relieve.

He walked four batters in the seventh and walked in one run to give the Eagles an 8-6 lead.

Wills, who was slated to start tomorrow, was taken out and replaced with Owen Canan. The Eagles hit him hard.

Will Twiss hit a ground ball to left to drive in one run and push the lead to 9-6, then Camden Koukol hit a two-run single to left and Simmons hit a two-run single to left, which increased the lead to 13-6.

Simmons started on the mound for Troy Christian and walked the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh, after which Dyer was brought in to relieve.

Dyer hit one batter with a pitch and walked one, which drove in one run. The Railroaders scored another run on a fielder’s choice to cut the gap to 13-8 but got no more.

Troy Christian had 11 hits and committed three errors while Bradford had nine hits and committed one error.

Simmons gave up seven earned runs on nine hits and three walks in six innings while striking out seven batters. Dyer, who is slated to start Friday, walked one batter in the seventh.

Koukol was 3 for 4 with 4 RBIs, one double and one walk. Knostman was 2 for 2 with 3 RBIs, one double and two walks. Twiss was 2 for 5 with one double and Marcus O’Neal was 2 for 4.

The Railroaders finish 19-10 overall.

Miller gave up seven earned runs on eight hits and five walks while striking out eight batters. Wills gave up four earned runs on four walks in 1/3 inning and Canan gave up two earned runs on three hits in 2/3 of an inning.

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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