OAK HILL - In a game with veteran standouts, it was a freshman who came through in the clutch in Oak Hill's 4-2 victory against Wyoming East in the Class AA Region 3, Section 1 tournament last Tuesday night at Jerry Epperly Field.
Shortstop Zane Wolfe lined a two-out shot to the left-center gap that scored two runs to give Oak Hill its first sectional title in 11 years.
"I finally pulled through on one after going 0 for 2 in the other at bats and not getting on base," Wolfe, the Red Devils' leadoff hitter, said. "I finally got a hold of one and put it in the gap and it ended up being a big hit."
After a couple fly outs to the outfield, the final two of five straight fly outs, Oak Hill gained a bit of momentum when No. 8 hitter Caleb Jones reached after being doinked by a pitch on the back of the batting helmet and No. 9 hitter Braxton Hall was walked.
A balk call, the third of the game against starter Dylan Repass, moved the runners up. That balk call ended up being big when Wolfe line hit a shot to the gap, scoring both.
Until that time, Repass had pitched well for the Warriors. He limited Oak Hill to just three hits in the game, and had three 1-2-3 innings.
At the beginning of the week, the prevailing thought was Wyoming East could use a rainout to get back to McQuade Canada, who had beat Independence on Saturday to get the Warriors into the sectional championship.
Repass made that a mute point with his stellar performance.
"He really pitched an A game for us tonight, we just didn't give him a lot of help," Wyoming East coach Ron "Chief" Mayhew said. "We outhit them, we just couldn't get a big hit when we needed it."
Repass was on point all night until Wolfe struck in the fifth.
Oak Hill took the lead 1-0 in the bottom of the third, when centerfielder Preston Legg scored on an error after reaching on a base hit to lead off the inning.
Wyoming East came back and took the lead with two runs in the top of the fourth, Clay Lester and Eric Hoosier with RBI singles in the inning.
The Warriors' 2-1 lead at the time could have been a lot worse. Oak Hill ace Caleb Jones continually pitched out of jams, stranding 11 Wyoming East base runners.
"I thought we could have scored three or four ore runs that we left out there and when you look back you kick yourself in the butt thinking it should have been more, but that's all hindsight," Mayhew said. "It's just a game, it just happened to be an important game."
Three times the Warriors had a runner at third with less than one out and just one of those scored.
The Warriors loaded the bases in the first when Matt Caldwell walked and Tanner Whitten and Brandon Simpson singled, but Jones induced a fly to short to end the threat.
Eric Hoosier reached on a walk in the third and reached third base with an out but Jones got a strikeout and a fly out to end that threat.
In the fifth the Warriors again got the tying run to third and eventually loaded the bases but again, Jones pitched out of the jam.
"I pitch to contact as much as I can and let my defense play," Jones said. "Sometimes we make some miscues but we have to bear down and get out of it."
"Sometimes I wish he wouldn't get in that trouble," Oak Hill coach Dan Poland said. "For him to pitch out of it, throw strikes and get some guys to hit some pop ups (was big)."
Wyoming East had beaten everyone in the section to get to the title game after a 5-0 loss to Independence in the sectional tournament opener.
The Warriors played six games over seven days and beat No. 5 seed Westside, No. 4 Liberty, No. 3 Independence and No. 1 Oak Hill (7-3 Monday) in nearly escaping the dreaded loser's bracket to win the section title.
Matt Caldwell went 0-3 in the game, ending his hit streak at 22 straight games.
"It's always nice to bring home some hardware," Poland said. "It's been a long time and the kids deserved it, they had a tremendous regular season."
On Monday the Warriors forced a deciding game when they beat Oak Hill 7-3 behind Caldwell.
The Red Devils led 3-1 before Wyoming East scored four in the fifth to take control. Clay Lester was 2 for 3 with two RBI for the Warriors, who had seven hits in the game. Caldwell had a hit and scored twice.
Nate Bloomfield and Preston Legg were both 2 for 4 with an RBI for the Red Devils.
Class AA Region 3, Section 1
Wyoming East 7, Oak Hill 3
Wyoming East: 010 040 x - 7 8 3
Oak Hill: 003 000 0 - 3 4 1
Battery: Matt Caldwell, Luke Laxton (6), Tanner Whitten (6) and Eric Hoosier. OH - Bradley Lokant, Zane Wolfe (6) and Tyrese Nelson. WP - Matt Caldwell 110 pitches, 64 strikes, 5.2 IP 4H 3R 3ER 6BB 6K. LP - Bradley Lokant 102 pitches, 66 strikes, 5.0 IP 6H 5R 2ER 4BB 5K. Hitting - WE: McQuade Canada (run), Eric Hoosier 1-4 (run), Matt Caldwell 2-3 (2 runs), Tanner Whitten 1-3 (run, RBI), Chris Harvey (run, RBI), Chase York 1-4 (run, RBI), Brandon Simpson 1-2 (RBI), Clay Lester 2-3 (2 RBI), OH: Zane Wolfe (run), Tyrese Nelson 1-3 (run, RBI), Jonathan Lyons (run), Nathan Bloomfield 2-4 (RBI), Preston Legg 1-4 (2B, RBI).
Class AA Region 3, Section 1 championship
Oak Hill 4, Wyoming East 2
Wyoming East: 000 200 0 - 2 6 2
Oak Hill: 001 021 x - 4 3 4
Battery: WE: Dylan Repass and Eric Hoosier; OH: Caleb Jones, Lane Jordan (7) and Ty Nelson. WP - Caleb Jones 95 pitches, 61 strikes, 6.0. IP 6H 2R 0ER 2BB 3K, LP - Dylan Repass 94 pitches, 54 strikes, 6.0 IP 3H 4R 3ER 3BB 4K. Save - Lane Jordan 17 pitches, 8 strikes, 1.0 IP 0H 0R 0ER 1BB 2K. Hitting - WE: Tanner Whitten 2-4, Chris Harvey 1-3, Brandon Simpson (run), Chase York 1-4, Chris Lester 1-3 (run, RBI), Jared Sandy 1-2. OH: Zane Wolfe 1-3 (2B, 2 RBI), Ty Nelson (run), Jonathan Lyons 1-3, Preston Legg 1-3 run, RBI), Caleb Jones (run, RBI), Braxton Hall (run).