COLUMBUS — Championships aren’t given, they’re earned.
The members of the Jonathan Alder baseball team grew up watching the Pioneers high school baseball teams win district, regional and state championships. But very few of the members of this year’s varsity team knew the thrill of hoisting postseason hardware themselves, until Wednesday.
Alder rallied with a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to knock off Bishop Watterson 7-6 earning the school’s first Division II district title in three years.
With the win the squad advances to a D-II regional semifinal which will be played May 25 at Carter Park in B0wling Green at 2 p.m. against the Heidelberg University district winner.
Alder senior Ian Gehres who was a freshman in 2014 when the Pioneers reached the state championship, is happy to have his own championship moment.
“I was there as a freshman and got to go to Huntington Park and be a part of that team,” Gehres said. “It’s always been in the back of my mind that we’re going to get back there before we’re done. We just won a district title and we’re looking to keep going.”
The Pioneers first district title since 2014 didn’t come easy. Alder jumped out early scoring five runs in the bottom of the first inning, taking a 5-0 lead. But Watterson answered right back, scoring five runs of their own in the top of the second inning to even the game.
Watterson eventually took a 6-5 lead in the fourth inning, but Alder got the equalizer in the bottom of the sixth when Austin Hurley scored on passed ball. The Eagles failed to score in the top of the seventh, setting the stage for a memorable final stanza for the Pioneers.
Gehres led off the inning by flying out. Cole Schrock singled, Preston Eisnaugle singled and Hunter Maynard singled to load the bases for Cal Duckworth. The senior sent his team into a wild celebration with a game-winning single and a 7-6 victory.
“It’s very strange feeling to be the same age as the guys we watched win championships when we were kids,” Gehres said. “I’ve just got this feeling about this team. We’re putting things together at the right time.”
Fredericktown 3, West Jefferson 1
The top-seeded Freddies scored twice in the first inning and added another run later and held off the Roughriders for the D-III Central District championship played Wednesday, May 17 at Marysville High School.
West Jeff’s quest to win the school’s first district championship in baseball since 1992 came up just short.
Senior Lance Lambert did his best to keep Fredericktown’s powerful lineup in check and ultimately suffered the loss on the mound.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.