The soaking rain, some results, and similar foes are repeating themes for the Russia Raiders baseball run here in 2021. As in 2017, when the Blue and Gold streaked to the state title game, the weather and a strong central district opponent are in Russia’s way.
And maybe even Fort Loramie.
The Raiders (20-5) tangle with second-rated Lancaster Fisher Catholic (23-4) on Friday at 5 p.m. In the first regional semifinal, sixth-ranked Fort Loramie (25-4) battles Cedarville (19-12) at 2 p.m.
ScoresBroadcast.com and WMVR provide live coverage of both Division IV contests one-half hour before the first pitch.
For Russia, the two regular season setbacks to Fort Loramie were by the scores of 3-1 and 4-0. Ironically, these league results matched the head-to-head scores in 2017, when Russia during late May thumped the Redskins, 8-4, in the regional semifinal. Of course, that is a part of history that Russia hopes replicates itself for sure.
The two local clubs could have another regional date together on Saturday, if they both win on Friday. That game would determine which Shelby County school advances to the state final four in Akron on June 11.
As is the case with the current regional tourney, Russia’s run to the state title game in 2017 was affected by periods of steady showers. The Thursday regional semifinals on Memorial Day weekend that year were washed out in Springfield. This week, Cincinnati Princeton High School and northern Hamilton County received nearly two inches of rain on Wednesday and Thursday forcing postponement once again.
Four years ago, Russia’s path to state championship weekend included a regional final tilt with tough central district champion Newark Catholic, a perennial powerhouse in D-IV. Interestingly, a very talented Lancaster Fisher Catholic squad, another central district winner, is Russia’s first regional foe this year.
The Raiders again hope history is right on course. Russia came from behind to nip Newark, 3-2, in 2017.
Fort Loramie, which has won 25 of 29 in 2021 after a close loss to Springfield Shawnee earlier this week, wouldn’t mind either if the year 2018 repeated itself over the next ten days. The Redskins stormed from behind to whip its last five tourney opponents that season to earn the state championship, its third baseball title.
In a see-saw district affair, Fort Loramie outscored Tri-County North, 11-7. At the Springfield regional, Fort Loramie rallied to top Minster, 7-5. CJ Billing’s grand slam and two-run double boosted the Redskins past Cincinnati Christian, 8-7, in the region final.
In Columbus, single runs in the sixth and seventh innings enabled Fort Loramie to nudge by Garfield Heights Trinity, 2-1. An eight-run explosion in the fifth propelled the Redskins past Hicksville in the state final, 8-4.
Chuck McBee, who will be in the pressbox for ScoresBroadcast.com on Saturday, said he wants to see the Raiders and Redskins square off for a third time this season.
“Each has a strong opponent in game one on Friday. So it’s one contest at a time,” McBee said. “But our two Shelby County clubs have solid pitching depth which is ideal for back-to-back regional tourney battles.”
He added, “Russia and Fort Loramie may not need more than 3 or 4 runs on Friday to advance.”
Sunny conditions should prevail all over Ohio this weekend. If Upper Miami Valley fans get their wish, that 2017 regional will repeat itself on Saturday afternoon by shining the spotlight on Shelby County down in Cincinnati.
First-pitch time on Saturday is not officially determined. It could be re-set for much earlier than 5 p.m., which was the original regional championship game time.