CLAYTON — Versailles climbed another rung on the state tournament ladder on Wednesday with a 10-4 win over Arcanum.
Versailles looked unbeatable in the early going as the Tigers methodically chugged through the first three innings to get a 3-0 lead. But Arcanum was able to make a charge midway through the game and tie. However, the Tigers chewed through three Trojan pitchers as their offense made the difference and they pulled away.
The Tigers advance to face Middletown Madison in a district final on Friday at Springfield Kenton Ridge.
Versailles pitcher Noah Richard accounted for the first three outs of the game by fielding a grounder, a pop out and finally struck out the third batter he faced. Arcanum was three up and three down through the first three innings.
But in the fourth inning, control began to be an issue. Richard walked the first batter and loaded the bases but pitched his way out of trouble with three strikeouts.
Control continued to be a problem in the fifth when Arcanum scored three runs to tie the game. But Richard regained his touch in the sixth and recorded two more strikeouts and held Arcanum scoreless.
Keaton McEldowney closed out the game and allowed one run. Overall it was a decent pitching performance.
“How dominating he was in his first three innings, we knew that he could get back into form, so we stuck with him,” Versailles coach Ryan Schlater said. “He did well with his fastball and then began to throw his curve in the fourth inning. But he had problems, and then the fastball wasn’t working. But after that bad inning he was able to begin using his fastball and get that working for him again.”
Arcanum made the game interesting with its fifth inning rally. The Trojans closed out the fourth inning when they retired three Tiger batters in order – partially due to some great catches in the outfield to take away base hits. This energized Arcanum, and the momentum carried into the Trojans’ next at-bat. They took advantage of a walk and then an error, and suddenly Arcanum was in business, scoring three runs.
The Tiger bats quickly went to work in their half of the fifth inning and regained all the momentum and held it to the end of the game. Arcanum starter Wade Meeks was pulled after four more runs scored, but the Tigers still hit the next two relievers, and they built a 10-3 lead.
Tiger reliever McEldowney did allow some hits in the top of the seventh, but the defense bent but did break and was able to hold Arcanum to a single run. It was far from a perfect game for Versailles, but the Tigers’ defense and hitting made the difference.
“Versailles got a 3-0 lead on us, and I thought we did a good job of coming back,” Arcanum coach Randy Baker said. “It felt like we had momentum. They went right back out and scored four on us. They hit the ball really hard, and they seemed to hit in the gaps where we couldn’t get a glove on the ball. But I thought we competed really well. They played hard all the way to end. We get two runners on and get a run – we try to get something going, so I am proud of way they played today.
“I was happy with our seniors and the way they played this season. Due to them, we are far better than what we were last season at this time. Their hard work and leadership made the difference – we are going to miss them.”
Versailles (18-5) will face Madison (22-4) at 5 p.m. on Friday.
“It was a well-played game,” Schlater said of Wednesday’s win. “There was some really good defense played. It was really tight the first few innings. It wasn’t until their starting pitcher got into some trouble (just like our starting pitcher) and couldn’t throw strikes that we were able to capitalize and make them pay for it.”