By Rob Kiser
SPRINGFIELD — Lehman head baseball coach Dave King knew exactly why his team had just beaten Reedsville Eastern in the Division 4 Regional semifinals 2-1 in Springfield Thursday afternoon — and why the Cavaliers, 23-4, were moving on to play at 5 p.m. today for a berth in the state tournament.
“Everybody on this team did something good today,” King said. “Everybody who played contributed in some way.”
And none was any bigger than the clutch hitting in the fifth inning that produced the Cavaliers only two runs — or the defense of catcher Max Schutt in the sixth inning.
For four-plus innings, Reedsville Eastern pitcher Cam Richmond had dodged bullets and came up with one big out after another. Lehman had second and third with with two outs in the second and second and third with one out in the fourth, but could not score and trailed 1-0.
Then in the fifth, after a leadoff single by Owen Smith, with Smith going to second on an error with no outs, Richmond followed with two straight strikeouts. When Nate Bosway strode to the plate, Lehman was 0-for-5 in the game with runners in scoring position, with four of those batters striking out.
And Bosway, one of the top hitters in Southwest Ohio, had unthinkably struck out in his first two trips to the plate.
“Motivated, yes,” Bosway said. “I was thinking about the way he had pitched me the first two times.”
And Bosway was pretty sure what he was going to see.
“He had been throwing a lot more curveballs than fastballs,” Bosway said. “So I figured that’s what was coming.”
And Bosway launched a first-pitch curveball over rightfielder Owen Arix’s head for a double to tie the game.
“Nate (Bosway) may have struck out twice, but he really nailed that one,” King said.
That brought up Parker Riley, Lehman’s ace on the mound. He drilled a ball down the leftfield line and King was sending Bosway home all the way. When the throw was up the line, Bosway scored easily to give Lehman a 2-1 lead.
Schutt showed his defensive prowess in the sixth. John Little had a leadoff single for the Eagles, but Schutt threw him out stealing second.
With two outs, Kaleb Hill had an infield single and the throw to first was wide. Hustling down the line, Schutt grabbed the ball on the ricochet off the fence in front of the Lehman dugout, and Lehman shortstop Dylan Arnold simply had to wait for Hill, trying to go to second, to arrive to end the inning.
It was more of the same in the seventh. Third baseman Brandon Barhorst stabbed a line drive to start the inning and with two outs, Ian Smith made a diving catch to end the game.
Riley, now 13-0 on the season, set a school record for a single season with his 13th win.
“He put up six zeroes in a row against a pretty good team,” King said. “And our defense made a lot of big plays behind him.”
Reedsville Eastern had gotten its only run in the first.
Now Lehman has a big opportunity after coming up short in the regional semifinals a year ago.
And the winning formula will be the same today,starting with the pitching.
“We will just see who we are playing and who is available,” King said about his pitching situation. “Everybody needs to be ready to contribute.”