ELIDA — Eastwood baseball got a taste of a future Division I college pitcher on Thursday as they fell 4-1 to Baltimore Liberty Union in regional semifinals.
With the loss, the Eagles finish as district champions with a record of 26-4 on the season.
On the mound for Liberty Union was Jacob Miller, a 6-foot-2 junior who is committed to play college baseball at Louisville.
Coming into the game, Miller’s fastball was said to top out at 92, but the Cardinal commit brought a little more juice against the Eagles, prompting Eastwood head coach Kevin Leady to make comparisons to Chad Billingsley. Billingsley was a former standout pitcher at Defiance High School who enjoyed an eight-year Major League Baseball career with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I’ll be honest, that is probably the best high school pitcher I have seen since Chad Billingsley. The radar gun was just lit up all night. He hit 95 many times,” Leady said. “Some guys got some good swings on it but obviously we knew that he would beat us sometimes just because of how good he was. The game was 1-1 going into the fifth, we played our butts off. We just didn’t make enough plays.”
Despite the odds being against them, the Eagles were able to scratch across a run in the top of the third inning with a leadoff single and a steal of second base from Case Boos, a sacrifice bunt from Lake Boos and a sacrifice fly from Jordan Pickerel.
But that was all that the Eagles were able to get as Miller went all seven innings giving up an earned run on three hits, 13 strikeouts and three walks.
Lake Boos was on the mound for the Eagles and, despite the fact that he was faced with a tough matchup, pitched a gem through five innings, giving up only one run. In the sixth, Liberty Union finally broke through with a walk, a hit by pitch, an error and a single. Boos only gave up one hit in the inning. None of the three runs were earned.
Boos finished with a pitching line of six innings giving up four runs (one earned) on four hits, five strikeouts and two walks.
“It was gutsy, we have some pitchers that we think every time they pitch we are going to be in the game. We just wanted him (Lake Boos) to unload the tank and he did that. He gave us everything that he had,” Leady said.
Despite a two-out double from Isaac Cherry in the top of the seventh inning, the Eagles were not able to make a comeback and fell.
Cade and Lake Boos each got a hit while Cherry went 1-for-1 with two walks in the game.
Eastwood graduates three seniors, Isaac Badenhop, Jared McNulty and Andrew Earley.
“I just told them (the seniors) how proud of them I was, their leadership was key. We have had a lot of people tells us that we are young and we understand that, but without those guys’ leadership, helping those young guys develop and leading them in the appropriate way, we wouldn’t have been here without them,” Leady said.
Despite the loss of those seniors, the Eagles bring back a ton of key pieces to this district championship team.
“The one thing it gave them was an experience that few got to experience this year. It is a building block, they know what it is going to take to get back there and how hard they’re going to have to work and how well they have to play to reach that level again. But these young guys got to be in some big games, some key at-bats, some big pitches. The future is very bright and very exciting,” Leady said.