Eastwood gets tourney win for Brandon Falls


PEMBERVILLE — Eastwood senior Brandon Falls did not get his Senior Day during the regular season, so even though it was a tournament game, they made it Senior Day for Falls on Friday at Gary Haas Sr. Field.

Falls played a half inning in Eastwood’s 7-0 Division III sectional final tournament victory over Allen East.

Falls was involved in an outfield collision on April 18 and left with a concussion and broken arm. He just got his cast removed and began rehabbing his arm, but is virtually done for the season. Except for Friday.

Only thing is he has to do is wear his glove with his throwing hand because he cannot throw with the arm that was broken.

“I’ll be honest, Brandon has been playing catch with a left-handed glove so if the ball was hit out there I trusted him to field it,” Eastwood coach Kevin Leady said.

“If a runner would have been on I would have had to take him out. So we had cleared things with docs (doctors) and his parents, and we wanted him to go out one more time, and he got to, and that was cool to see (No.) 5 back out there again.”

Falls was supposed to play center field for one Allen East batter and then be replaced by Kadyn Donnell. Only Eastwood starting pitcher Paul Lautzenheiser was throwing heat and struck out the side in the top of the first on 11 pitches.

Falls looked around waiting to be taken out, but he stayed in because Lautzenheiser was not going to allow anything to get hit, period.

“We’re all playing for Brandon right now and I just want to give him a little shot in the outfield to experience one last time in the field,” Lautzenheiser said.

Lautzenheiser continued to work, getting a complete game two-hit shutout, striking out nine and walking two batters through seven innings. He threw 93 pitches, including 64 strikes to 27 batters.

“I feel like everything was working. Definitely my outside fastball was there,” Lautzenheiser said.

Leady added, “Paul was awesome today. He went in and he really attacked with all of his pitches, worked ahead, and we always say the game starts with our pitching and our defense. For sure that is where we were at tonight.

“I thought Paul was really impressive. Thought he was pumping it today — he did really well.”

Offensively, the Eagles had seven hits against Allen East starter Donovan Kennedy, including doubles by Connor Norton and Andrew Badenhop. Badenhop, Norton, and Lautzenheiser had two RBIs apiece.

“At the plate we did just enough,” Leady said. “I mean, we did hit some balls hard, don’t get me wrong. They made some nice plays in the field.”

Kennedy struck out three, walked four, hit three batters, allowed eight hits and seven runs, but only two were earned, through 5.2 innings. He threw 98 pitches, including 51 strikes to 30 batters.

“I thought he was pretty good,” Leady said. “He threw a real nice mix of things — worked quick and tried to get ahead of us.”

Donnell and Badenhop were 2-for-3 and also getting a base hit for Eastwood was Bryce Miller.

Brock Messinger, who was in the collision with Falls nearly one month ago, had a sacrifice bunt, Donnell has a stolen base, and Colton Woodward, Xander Greulich, and Drew Kachmarik were hit by pitches.

Caden Hedrick led Allen East at the plate, getting both hits. Each team stranded six baserunners.

Allen East bows out of the tournament with an 11-13 record. Eastwood (21-3) advances to the district tournament at Elida on Thursday for a 2 p.m. semifinal against Coldwater. The district final is slated for noon next Saturday at Elida.

Elida is the site where Eastwood, then undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state, saw their tournament ended by Wayne Trace in the regionals last year.

The Eagles, ranked 11th in Ohio this year, will seek redemption on the same field.

“We’re pumped,” Lautzenheiser said. “We’re just trying to make it as far as we can. We’re 0-0.”

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