Brock Netter, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — We’re getting down to the nitty gritty of baseball season. It’s regional tournament time.
On Thursday at VA Memorial Stadium, Minford and Westfall are set to square off in a Division III regional semifinal with an Elite Eight trip to Ohio Dominican University on the line.
The winner faces either West Jefferson or Ridgewood on Friday. But to get to Friday, you have to win Thursday.
Minford is riding enjoying one of the best seasons in school history as it currently sits at 28-1. The Falcons have been steamrolling opponents during a 17-game winning streak while outscoring its competition by a 76-8 margin since May 1.
After surviving a scare from Piketon in their 3-2 sectional championship victory, the Falcons ran through Wellston and Adena in district tourney play, allowing a combined two runs in both games.
Ethan Lauder and Elijah Vogelsong each earned victories on the bump in 12-2 and 10-0 finals.
Meanwhile at the dish, Vogelsong, Darius Jordan, Matthew Risner, and Reid Schultz have continued to pound out hit after hit. You can add catcher Luke Lindamood to that group, who provides the power, i.e. his towering solo home run against Adena in the district final.
While Minford has played against some of the top teams the Scioto Valley Conference has to offer, specifically Adena and Unioto, the Falcons will now face the SVC’s top dog.
This spring will go down in Westfall history as the Mustangs currently sit at 23-4. The last time the program won 23 games, it made it to the Sweet 16, where it finds itself once again.
The Mustangs have proven a lot of things over the course of the year, but one thing truly stands out: they are a resilient and gritty bunch.
The proof is in the pudding, or this case, their tournament run.
Every game they’ve played has been decided by less than two runs, including a three-run comeback victory over Rock Hill in a district semifinal — a game where the Mustangs scored four times in the final two frames.
Much like Minford, Westfall has relied on two pitchers in Lucas Blackburn and Eric Corzatt, the latter of which pitched a complete game gem in the team’s 2-1 district championship victory over Wheelersburg.
Jayden Hammond, Matt Baemel, along with Corzatt, have come through with a number of clutch hits for the Mustangs while, defensively, Titan Williams, Brayton Felger and Jay Wyman have been as consistent as ever.
For Minford, this stage isn’t anything new considering it was in a state semifinal last season. Westfall has never been to a regional final before, and hasn’t played in the regional tournament since that 2010 season, so this is foreign territory.
But it’s the game of baseball. Anything can happen. And, at this stage, fans should come to expect the unexpected.
Thursday’s first pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. at VA Memorial Stadium.