MIAMISBURG — It took almost all season, but the Yellow Jackets found consistent hitting in the tournament.
Sidney hit enough in a Division I sectional final at Miamisburg on Thursday to win, but a couple of errors in the third inning were too much to overcome.
The Vikings scored four runs in part thanks to two errors by Sidney to rally from an early deficit and end the Yellow Jackets’ season with a 5-4 victory.
Sidney, which beat Tecumseh 10-2 in a sectional opener on Tuesday, finishes 6-20 overall.
Miamisburg, which is the Dayton Div. I sectional’s No. 6 seed, improves to 17-7 with the win. Sidney was the sectional’s No. 16 seed.
“I’m really proud of the way we played,” Sidney coach Tom Goffena said. “We came out ready to play from the first inning and got some early runs. We kept the pedal on.”
The Yellow Jackets were 4-7 after a run-rule win over Trotwood-Madison on April 12 but struggled down the stretch and lost their next 11 games.
“I’ll be the first one to come out and tell you that we struggled, and the guys know that (we did),” Goffena said. “But (the tournament) is a new season, and as the year went on, our confidence started to go up, pitching-wise and defense. Then in these last two games, we finally came out and hit the ball like I knew we could.”
Sidney tried to rally in the seventh. Caleb Harris had a double with one out after ripping a hard ground ball along the left-field line. He advanced to third and then scored after two passed balls while Ryan Cagle was at the plate.
Cagle eventually drew a walk, but Lathan Jones struck out after a long at-bat and Cagle was thrown out at second while trying to steal after the third strike call.
Goffena said he was proud of how the team didn’t give up after the disastrous third inning.
“We gave them five outs there in that inning, and you just can’t do that against a good team,” Goffena said. “But I’m super proud of our kids came out and played.”
Each team had eight hits. The Yellow Jackets had three total errors, while the Vikings didn’t commit any.
Harris, a center fielder, is one of four seniors the squad will lose to graduation. He was a three-year letter winner and batted .220 this season with a .381 on-base percentage.
“Caleb is going to be hard to replace,” Goffena said. “He probably could have been a four-year letter winner, but I wanted to keep him down (on JV) his freshman year to get some confidence. He’s going to be hard to replace in the outfield.”
Sidney will also lose multiple-year players Kaden Walker and Jordan Frazier to graduation.
“Walker has just been around the program a lot and loves baseball,” Goffena said. “That’s hard to replace, when a kid loves baseball. You can’t teach that and can’t replace that. Someone is going to have to step up and do that.
“Jordan Frazier is a team-guy first. He doesn’t care if he’s in the lineup or anything like that; he only cares about winning the game. He came out and played his role and did a really good job this year.”
The Yellow Jackets took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first after an RBI line-drive single to right field by Carson Taylor. Mitch Larger hit a solo home run to left field in the second to increase the lead to 2-0, but Dylan Wudke hit a solo home run to left in the bottom half of the inning to bring Miamisburg within 2-1.
Cagle led off the third with a double to left field and later scored on a single to left by Carson Taylor. Things fell apart in the bottom of the inning, though.
Logan Ritter walked to start the inning, then Connor Dye hit a single to first base. Ritter scored on a wild pitch with Jon Yerkins was at the plate, and Yerkins then hit an RBI line-drive single to left field to tie it 3-3.
Joey Yerkins then reached on an error by Sidney pitcher Ryan Caufield. After a flyout by Ethan Schultz, Wudke hit a sacrifice groundout to score one run, and a throwing error by Taylor on the play allowed another run to score and put Miamisburg up 5-3.
The Vikings left the bases loaded in the third and left two runners on in the fourth. Sidney managed just one base runner over the next three innings, though, which came when Larger hit a double with two outs in the sixth.
Cagle, Taylor and Larger each had two hits.
Caufield was charged with the loss. He pitched 2 2/3 innings and allowed three earned runs on four hits and two walks. He had two strikeouts.
The Yellow Jackets will return the bulk of their roster, including their top five batters and their top five pitchers.
“For everyday starters, we only lose two,” Goffena said. “That’s a positive moving forward to next year. They’re going to be hard to replace with leadership and things like that, but we have guys that are ready to step up. We’ve got young guys that struggled a little bit this year, but I think they’re ready to step up and take a leadership role next year.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.