The Jonathan Alder baseball program is no stranger to playing this deep into the postseason.
The Pioneers (21-4) will make the lengthy trip to Bowling Green’s Carter Park Thursday, May 25, for a Division II regional semifinal tilt with Lexington which will begin at 2 p.m. The winner of the contest will return to Bowling Green Friday, May 26, at 5 p.m. against either Parma Padua Franciscan or Maumee.
But while Alder coach Craig Kyle and a majority of his staff have been down this road before, only a handful of his players have. A few of the current seniors on the roster were on the bench the last time the Pioneers advanced this far in 2014. Today’s seniors were freshman that year when Alder advanced to the D-II state championship game.
“There’s no way to get experience playing at this level other than to play,” Kyle said. “We talk all the time about the mental side of the game and being prepared. I think the competition we’ve played this year has helped show them what it takes to play good teams in the tournament.
“We don’t take a break from our expectations. We don’t have guys who have played at this level, but we do have guys who have been in the dugout and been around teams we’ve had go this far before. We’ve also had a number of our older guys come back in the last few weeks and talk to the guys about things.”
Alder’s opponent Thursday has been on quite a postseason ride. The Minutemen were the fourth seed in the Northwest District and have survived on a familiar formula of playing good defense, getting solid pitching and delivering timely hits.
“We’ve seen them play twice, in their semifinal and final,” Kyle said. “They’re a very good team. They’re good defensively, solid throughout the middle of their lineup and have 3-4 pitchers who have thrown a lot this year. We don’t know who they’re going to throw at us.
“They’re honestly a mirror image of us. Their defense is solid and their pitching isn’t going to dominate you, but it’s good enough to get people out. They’re a well-coached team.”
Alder hasn’t been the most dominant team at the plate, but Kyle likes what he has and what he’s seen from his squad in recent weeks.
“I’m not concerned about our offense, our problem is we score and then have stretches where we don’t score. We go through scoring lulls,” he said. “It’s all about us taking it one inning at a time. The number one thing to winning in the tournament is putting the ball in play and getting two-out hits. Those are the things we need to continue to do.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.