There will be no surprises when the No. 4 seed West Jefferson baseball team travels to No. 2 Worthington Christian for a second round Division III Central District second round game Wednesday, May 10.
Both teams are members of the Mid-State League Ohio Division and have played each other twice a year for the past few seasons. But the stakes will be much higher this time around as a spot in a district semifinal hangs in the balance.
The Warriors (15-6) and Roughriders (14-8) split their pair of games earlier this season, setting the stage for what should be an entertaining tilt.”
“Worthington Christian has had a great season so far,” West Jeff coach Jason Bogenrife said. “We played them very well in our first meeting at their place. We respect them but our guys are focused and will show up Wednesday ready to compete.
“I expect to see two very good baseball teams take the field Wednesday. It will be a great game to be part of. Our boys are looking forward to getting after it.”
West Jeff earned their way into the showdown with Worthington Christian with a hard-fought 12-4 win over visiting 12th-seed Liberty Union Monday, May 8.
Bogenrife got a solid effort from his ace Lance Lambert and was able to get past what he believes was a solid Lions team.
“Lance Lambert did a great job on the mound (Monday),” the coach said. “He kept the LU hitters off balance most of the game. I felt our defense played solid. We had a few guys out of position but everyone stepped up and got the job done. We felt we had to be patient at the plate and make their pitcher (Caleb) Peck work deep in the count. LU is much better than its record. They play in a very tough conference.”
West Jeff started the season fast, hit a rough patch in the middle of the season and seems to be back on the uptick.
“We have been playing much better as of late,” Bogenrife said. “Our kids work hard and are great kids. We talk about the state tourney being a new season and we have been tested and faced adversity this season with injuries. We are finally getting healthy and we are ready to compete for a district title.”
Worthington Christian earned its trip to the second round with a 10-4 defeat of Madison-Plains Monday. The Golden Eagles (3-22) put up a fight early but ultimately made too many mistakes in suffering the loss.
“We knew that playing the No. 2 team in the district was going to be a tall task,” Madison-Plains High School coach Zach Durban said. “We’d played them earlier this season tough at their place and knew we could hang with them. I had seen some really positive baseball, at times, from our kids over the past two weeks. I knew we were capable of playing with anyone.”
Tyler Gibbs started the game on the mound and threw well for three innings for the Eagles. But the Warriors eventually caught up with him.
“The third time through the order, hitters started to get his timing and had seen his off-speed pitches,” Durban said. “We committed a couple errors and gave up a couple walks that gave WC enough early run support. Jarrett Vallery came on in relief and threw well. But, again we committed a couple of errors and issued a couple more walks which continued to make scoring runs too easy for WC.”
The freshman Vallery was 4 for 4 on the evening while senior Jaycee Raines added two more hits.
“We threatened with runners in scoring position in back-to-back innings with two outs but just couldn’t come up with the big hit when we needed it.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.