CENTERVILLE — Sidney looked like a team on a mission early in a Division I district semifinal baseball game against Springboro at Centerville High School on Tuesday. However, that mission was thwarted and the season halted abruptly by Springboro 13-3 in six innings.
The No. 8 seed Yellow Jackets (17-9), coming off of their sectional final upset of Troy, loaded the bases with nobody out in the first inning against Panthers starting pitcher Luke Burroughs and managed to score three runs. They batted around in that first inning, but did leave the bases loaded.
Definitely the kind of start to the game that Sidney coach Tom Goffena was hoping for.
“It was a great start, but I knew that wasn’t going to be enough against this team,” Goffena said.
Those numbers began with a run in the first inning and six more in the second inning when the No. 5 seed Panthers (20-8) batted around themselves in part by recording five hits for the big early lead.
That chased Sidney starting pitcher Gavin Roberts, who was fresh off of his sectional opening six-inning, two-hit scoreless seven innings against Fairborn. In this one, Roberts unofficially gave up six runs on four walks and two hits. Mitchell Davis and Carson Taylor came in relief, but experienced similar results.
Sprinboro’s first five hitters in their line-up were all-GWOC performers this season and they delivered.
Goffena knew what they were dealing with.
“They put up numbers all year,” Goffena said. “There’s not too many teams that have held them down.”
All of Sidney’s runs came in the first inning when Roberts led off with a single to left field. E.J. Davis tried to bunt him over, but the pitcher fielded it and fired it to second base for what appeared to be an out.
However, the umpire ruled that Springboro shortstop Zach Gardner did not have possession long enough and Roberts was safe at second. Carson Taylor followed with a single to load the bases and nobody out. Jack Davidson then beat out a ball at first base when the pitcher covering the base bobbled the throw and Roberts scored. After a Gardner error that plated another run, Davis walked with the bases-loaded for the third and final run.
Springboro got one back in the first inning with the help of two walks, a throwing error and one hit. However, it was the second inning that proved costly for the Yellow Jackets, but it wasn’t without its controversy.
Leading off the inning, Roberts was able to entice Springboro catcher Ethan O’Bryan to pop out to third base on a full count pitch. However, after the out was recorded, the call was reversed. Instead, evidently, the base umpire ruled a balk on Roberts, but no runners were on base to advance.
Usually, when a balk is called, the runners on base get a free pass to the next base. A balk can also be called a ball when thrown to the plate. So, on that pitch, instead of a pop out, it was recorded as a base on balls.
That event put Roberts in a jam because a walk and a hit later the bases were loaded and Davis was in. Springboro tacked on six in that second inning, four more in the fourth inning and their final two in the sixth innings.
After that big first inning, Sidney only managed three more baserunners the rest of the way off Burroughs, who gave up five hits and only one walk.
Davidson, Roberts and Taylor each had a hit and scored a run, and Aiden Booth singled and stole a base.
Springboro totaled twelve hits and took advantage of ten Yellow Jackets walks.
Goffena was proud of his team’s efforts, especially his pitching staff.
“I’ll put my pitching staff up against anyone’s,” Goffena said. “I know the numbers don’t say it tonight, but in every level of baseball everybody has a bad game. It’s just one game.
“It wasn’t the pitching that lost this game, these guys are good. I’m proud of our guys.
“After the success we had last year, people were doubting if we could win 10 games, but our guys still came out and had this type of season. I’m very proud of how they fought every game. I’m very proud of our guys.”
With eyes on the future, Goffena likes what he sees.
“The good thing is, we are only losing one of these pitchers.”
For Sidney, seniors Jack Davidson, E.J. Davis, Donavin Johnson, Parker Stewart, and Carson Taylor played their last game in the black and gold.
Springboro advances to the district finals on Thursday again at Centerville, where they will meet the No. 1 seed in the Cincinnati sectional in Moeller at 5 p.m.