ELIDA — Eastwood baseball captured a Division III district championship on Saturday, defeating Minster 2-1 in nine innings behind two good pitching performances from Ethan Rapp and Jared McNulty.
The win puts them at 26-3 on the season and gives them their sixth district championship in school history.
“Today was a grind for us,” Eastwood head coach Kevin Leady said. “We just kept battling. Our pitchers threw the ball extremely well. They worked ahead, made plays and just found a way.”
The Eagles were put on their backfoot right from the start as Rapp started the game by giving up two walks. He nearly worked out of it, but a two-out error put Minster up 1-0 after the first inning.
“Ethan had a little bit of a tough first inning. He was working behind hitters, but we still should have got him out of the inning. But that’s baseball — sometimes we help him and sometimes we don’t. But as the game went on, he got stronger,” Leady said.
After giving up the first inning run, Rapp went the next six innings allowing only four baserunners and no hits to keep the Eagles in the game.
But to truly keep them in it, the Eagles needed a run, and through five innings Minster’s Eric Schmidt was able to keep the Eagles at bay allowing five hits but no runs.
That changed in the sixth when Jordan Pickerel led off the inning with a double and was pinch run by Tristan Schuerman. Jared Bonfiglio walked, Jackson Bauer grounded into a fielder’s choice at second, moving Schuerman to third and Caleb Recker came through with a one-out RBI single to tie the game at one.
The Eagles threatened again in the seventh with bases loaded and two outs, but weren’t able to produce anything.
Jared McNulty entered the game in the eighth, replacing Rapp who finished with a line of seven innings, giving up one run (not earned) on three hits, seven strikeouts and four walks.
After a leadoff single and an error put runners on first and second with one out in the eighth for Minster, the Wildcats grounded into an inning ending double play that ended the eighth.
In the ninth inning, the Eagles stuck with a one-out double from Lake Boos, a walk from Andrew Arnston, an error that made it bases loaded and a bases-loaded walk drawn by Bauer to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead.
After walking the first batter of the ninth, McNulty slammed the door closed getting the final three outs and earning the Eagles a district title.
“McNulty stayed ready the whole time and as soon as we turned it over to him he was fantastic as well. He pounded the zone, we made enough plays and we scratched one across in the ninth to win,” Leady said.
The Eagles were led by Case and Lake Boos at the plate as Case went 3-for-5 in the leadoff spot while Lake went 2-for-4 and was the game winning run. Bauer and Recker drove in the only two runs in the game for Eastwood.
The Eagles came up just short of an NBC title in the last regular season game of the year falling to Lake. But the even though they didn’t come out of the regular season with a championship, the close games in the NBC were invaluable, Leady said.
“Minster was extremely hot coming into our game, they had won some really big games and you know you are going to be in a dog fight. I think our league really preps us for games like this. Some of the teams we play, we’ve been in some really tight games and it was just another game for us. We didn’t panic and many times now when we get in these tough ones, the experience of playing the Otsego’s the Lake’s, those tough ballgames help us in the tournament,” Leady said.
Eastwood will now move on to play Baltimore Liberty Union in regional semifinals Thursday at 5 p.m. at Elida High School.