Baseball: Russia pulls away late for district title


Raiders will face South Charleston Southeastern in regional semifinal

By Bryant Billing - [email protected]



Russia’s Grant Saunders throws a pitch during a Division IV district final against Cincinnati Christian on Wednesday in Miamisburg.

Russia’s Grant Saunders throws a pitch during a Division IV district final against Cincinnati Christian on Wednesday in Miamisburg.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia's Aiden Shappie dives back to first base as Cincinnati Christianճ Nick Minacapelli waits for the throw in a pick-off attempt at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia's Zane Shappie runs back towards first as Cincinnati Christianճ Nick Minacapelli waits for the throw in an attempted run-down at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia's Aiden Shappie catches a pop up while playing Cincinnati Christian at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia’s Braylon Cordonnier throws towards first after recording an out at second base during a Division IV district final against Cincinnati Christian on Wednesday in Miamisburg.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia's Hayden Quinter chases a bouncing hit while playing Cincinnati Christian at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia's Braylon Cordonnier bats against Cincinnati Christian at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

The Russia Raiders with their Division IV District Champion trophy after defeating Cincinnati Christian at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

The Russia Raiders with their Division IV District Champion trophy after defeating Cincinnati Christian at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia players hold up a Division IV district championship trophy and pose with coaches after defeating Cincinnati Christian 9-2 on Wednesday at Dayton Christian High School in Miamisburg. It’s the fifth consecutive district title for the Raiders.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

RUSSIA SOFTBALL REGIONAL FINAL POSTPONED

Russia’s softball regional final against Bradford originally scheduled for Friday evening at Northmont High School was postponed due to weather. The contest will now take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Wright State University’s softball field, which is located north of the Nutter Center.

MIAMISBURG — District championships have become the expectation for Russia’s baseball program in recent years. The Raiders are hoping to surpass expectations next week.

The Raiders won their fifth consecutive district championship by beating Cincinnati Christian 9-2 on Wednesday at Dayton Christian High School and will try to earn a regional championship and state berth next week.

Russia (21-6) advances to face South Charleston Southeastern in a regional semifinal. The game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. on Thursday at Cincinnati Princeton High School.

If victorious, the Raiders could face Shelby County Athletic League rival Fort Loramie in a regional final for the second consecutive year. The Redskins are scheduled to play in the 5 p.m. semifinal on Thursday at Princeton.

The Redskins beat Russia 7-1 in a regional final last year. It was the third consecutive season Russia lost in regional play after winning a regional title and earning a state berth in 2017.

The Raiders are hoping to earn a state berth again and feel like they’re peaking now. Russia has won 13 of its last 14 games, with the lone loss in that span being a 4-3 defeat at St. Paris Graham.

The return of ace pitcher Grant Saunders and the continued development of younger players is contributing to the squad playing its best baseball right now according to coach Kevin Phlipot.

Saunders, a senior, has slowing been regaining strength while dealing with a nagging injury. He pitched six innings on Wednesday and gave up two earned runs on four hits while striking out 10 batters.

“He’s still building up his innings,” Phlipot said. “That’s the farthest he’s gone. His velocity was there. He was still a little erratic at times, but that was by far his best outing and his furthest outing. He wasn’t thrilled about getting pulled that last inning, but I said, ‘We’re good. We’ve got this under control.’”

Ross Fiessinger closed out the win in the seventh. He’s one of several pitchers who’ve seen significant time on the mound. Junior Xavier Phlipot and freshman Braylon Cordonnier have had many solid outings.

“We’re not lacking pitching, that’s for sure,” Phlipot said. “… We’ve got guys that are pretty solid that haven’t even thrown yet.

“We did (develop depth more without Saunders) early on (this season). We’ve shown what we could do early on. That’s helped us win a lot of ball games, and since he’s been back, we haven’t given up a lot of runs.”

How few? Opponents have scored 11 runs against the Raiders in the last 14 games. Russia has posted nine shutouts in that span.

“This is the time of year you want to continue that pattern,” Phlipot said. “… Pitching and defense. That’s the key (to get through regionals). We do that next week, we’ll be fine. Pitching, defense, get our bunts down and every now and then, somebody put a ball in the gap.

“It’s as simple as that. It’s boring and it’s cliché and all that. But as long as we make a few plays, we’ll be okay.”

Cincinnati Christian scored two runs off four hits in the bottom of the third inning to take a 2-0 lead, but Russia quickly battled back.

Saunders drew a walk to start the top of the fourth inning, then Cordonnier hit a single to left field. Aiden Shappie hit a sacrifice bunt to move Saunders and Cordonnier, then Zane Shappie hit a ground out to short stop to score Saunders.

But the Cougars then threw the ball away trying to pick off Cordonnier at third, and he scored to tie it 2-2.

Russia then loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth after an error, a single and a walk. Cordonnier then hit a deep hit to center field, which Cincinnati Christian’s Trevor Allen caught while diving — but then dropped.

The runs scored on the play to give Russia a 5-2 lead.

“His first at bat, he just missed it. The center fielder made pretty much the same play,” Phlipot said. “We had opportunities early that we missed, and they jumped on our mistakes, so it was a little concerning for a minute.

“But Braylon has come through for us all year. Even as a freshman, it doesn’t matter. He’s one of the better players in the area, and I expect that from him. He’s not intimidated by any situation.”

Cincinnati Christian switched pitchers in the sixth, and Russia added four runs on four hits and one walk to pull away.

Cordonnier finished 3 for 4 with 5 RBIs while Zane Shappie finished 2 for 4. Saunders finished 1 for 2 with two walks.

The Raiders finished with eight hits and committed one error. Cincinnati Christian had five hits and committed three errors.

It was the third lopsided postseason the squad has posted. The Raiders beat Botkins 10-0 in a sectional final and Newton 6-0 in a district semifinal before Wednesday’s win.

Phlipot said regional games will present more of a challenge, but he’s confident Russia’s experience from last season and a strong nonconference schedule this season has the squad prepared.

“If we take care of the little things, we’ll be fine,” Phlipot said.

Southeastern (19-7) beat Felicity-Franklin 3-0 in a district final on Wednesday to advance.

Russia’s Grant Saunders throws a pitch during a Division IV district final against Cincinnati Christian on Wednesday in Miamisburg.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/05/web1_DSC_0778-1.jpgRussia’s Grant Saunders throws a pitch during a Division IV district final against Cincinnati Christian on Wednesday in Miamisburg. Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia’s Aiden Shappie dives back to first base as Cincinnati Christianճ Nick Minacapelli waits for the throw in a pick-off attempt at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/05/web1_DSC_0787-1.jpgRussia’s Aiden Shappie dives back to first base as Cincinnati Christianճ Nick Minacapelli waits for the throw in a pick-off attempt at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.
Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia’s Zane Shappie runs back towards first as Cincinnati Christianճ Nick Minacapelli waits for the throw in an attempted run-down at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/05/web1_SDN052722RussiaVCinci-1.jpgRussia’s Zane Shappie runs back towards first as Cincinnati Christianճ Nick Minacapelli waits for the throw in an attempted run-down at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia’s Aiden Shappie catches a pop up while playing Cincinnati Christian at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/05/web1_DSC_0856-1.jpgRussia’s Aiden Shappie catches a pop up while playing Cincinnati Christian at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.
Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia’s Braylon Cordonnier throws towards first after recording an out at second base during a Division IV district final against Cincinnati Christian on Wednesday in Miamisburg.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/05/web1_DSC_0921-1.jpgRussia’s Braylon Cordonnier throws towards first after recording an out at second base during a Division IV district final against Cincinnati Christian on Wednesday in Miamisburg. Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia’s Hayden Quinter chases a bouncing hit while playing Cincinnati Christian at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/05/web1_DSC_0949-1.jpgRussia’s Hayden Quinter chases a bouncing hit while playing Cincinnati Christian at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia’s Braylon Cordonnier bats against Cincinnati Christian at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/05/web1_DSC_0972-1.jpgRussia’s Braylon Cordonnier bats against Cincinnati Christian at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

The Russia Raiders with their Division IV District Champion trophy after defeating Cincinnati Christian at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/05/web1_DSC_1184-1.jpgThe Russia Raiders with their Division IV District Champion trophy after defeating Cincinnati Christian at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

The Russia Raiders with their Division IV District Champion trophy after defeating Cincinnati Christian at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/05/web1_DSC_1229-1.jpgThe Russia Raiders with their Division IV District Champion trophy after defeating Cincinnati Christian at Dayton Christian High School on Wednesday.Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia players hold up a Division IV district championship trophy and pose with coaches after defeating Cincinnati Christian 9-2 on Wednesday at Dayton Christian High School in Miamisburg. It’s the fifth consecutive district title for the Raiders.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/05/web1_DSC_1198-1.jpgRussia players hold up a Division IV district championship trophy and pose with coaches after defeating Cincinnati Christian 9-2 on Wednesday at Dayton Christian High School in Miamisburg. It’s the fifth consecutive district title for the Raiders. Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News
Raiders will face South Charleston Southeastern in regional semifinal

By Bryant Billing

[email protected]

RUSSIA SOFTBALL REGIONAL FINAL POSTPONED

Russia’s softball regional final against Bradford originally scheduled for Friday evening at Northmont High School was postponed due to weather. The contest will now take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Wright State University’s softball field, which is located north of the Nutter Center.

Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.

Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.