Ironton defeats Coal Grove
IRONTON -- Ironton High School baseball head coach Larry Goodwin said there's been at least one big inning for opponents in the 2013 season that's changed the outcome of the game.
That big inning happened Wednesday for Coal Grove in the top of the third, when the Hornets scored three runs on two hits and two errors to cut the Fighting Tigers lead to 6-3 in the opening round of the Division III district playoffs.
Ironton recovered to post a 9-4 victory.
"We've been a victim of the one bad inning," Goodwin said. "But we have to survive it and cut our losses and keep playing."
Instead of letting Coal Grove get settled in for a fight, the Tigers responded in the bottom half of the third inning.
A sacrifice bunt from Trevor Easterling brought in Mo Phillips, who had reached base on a walk. Then, after Korey Kellogg reached on an error, Luke Diamond came up with an RBI single. Steven Easterling, who went 2-for-4 from the plate, got another RBI single, and Ironton headed into the fourth up 9-3.
The Hornets would plate one more run in the contest, but solid defense behind pitcher Derek Battise would give Ironton (10-8) its first baseball playoff win in several years. Coal Grove went hitless after the fourth inning.
"Battise didn't have his best stuff today, but he was using his secondary pitches to get guys out," Goodwin said. "His fast ball wasn't there, but he went to his slider and curve and did a good job for us."
Battise also helped himself out, going 3-for-3 at the plate including an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning.
He was batting in the cleanup spot behind three players that were giving Coal Grove fits. Diamond scored three runs and had an RBI in the leadoff spot, while Steven Easterling went 2-for-4 and Aaron Thomas was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
"(Thomas) has done a great job for us," Goodwin said. "He came out to play for us as a senior and has done a great job at first base and third base, and it's good to have that left-handed power hitter in the lineup."
Ironton, the No. 7 seed in the Chillicothe 1 District of the Division III tournament, will travel to Oak Hill to play the No. 2 seed Oaks Saturday at 11 a.m. The Oaks had a bye in the first round.
"They've beaten some good teams this year, and they're a great hitting team," Goodwin said of Oak Hill. "Their field has a short porch, so we have to keep the ball down, and if we can do that I think we'll be all right."
Steven Easterling, the catcher in Wednesday's contest, will likely be the starting pitcher Saturday, Goodwin said.
COAL GROVE 003 100 0 -- 4 3 7
IRONTON 333 000 x -- 9 9 2
Pierce and Rigsby; Battise and S. Easterling
Hitting: (CG) Bare 2 RBIS, Carey 2B, run; (I) Battise 3-3, 2B, RBI, S. Easterling 2-4, RBI, Thomas 3-4, 2 RBIs.