(pictures courtesy of Adam Baum - Cincinnati.com)
The Varsity Baseball team entered Thursday's OHSAA Div. I Cincinnati 4 Sectional Final game with a 19-3 record and looking for their first Sectional Title since 2008 when the program reached the Regional Semi-Finals. The #4 seeded Bombers faced the #6 seeded Mason Comets who decided to jump in the Sectional bracket with St. Xavier over going to a different bracket. The Comets entered the game with a 19-8 record on the season.
It took a couple of innings for the Bombers to adjust to the Mason starter but once they did there was no let up in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Trailing 2-0, junior Grant Kirby stepped to the plate and got St. Xavier started with a double the opposite way. Senior Peter Fisher followed with a single and advanced to second on a throw to the plate that kept Kirby at 3rd base. Senior Michael Cleary stepped up and tied the game with a 2 RBI double to center field to make it 2-2. After an out, senior Sam Klare forced a walk and senior Jon Brus followed with a single to load the bases. Senior Alex Markley singled through the left side to score Cleary to put the Bombers ahead 3-2. An out later, senior Nick Meyer singled that scored two runs before he was thrown out trying to take 2nd base to make it a 5-2 St. Xavier lead.
That is all junior ace starting pitcher Nathan Kappers needed as he has done all year. He gave up a solo homerun in the 2nd inning and another run in the 3rd inning but after his offense gave him the lead, he shut the Comets down. He retired the side in order in the 4th, 6th and 7th innings and allowed only one hit over the final 4 innings in the 5th inning. He pitched a complete game (7 IP) giving up 5 hits and 2 earned runs while striking out 1 and walking 2. He forced 11 ground ball outs. With the win, Kappers now stands at 7-1 on the season.
St. Xavier's offense wasn't done against the Mason pitching staff as they faced a new pitcher to start the bottom of the 4th inning and went to work. Kirby led the inning off with a walk and Fisher was hit by a pitch. Cleary laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to 2nd and 3rd. Senior Trevor Kuncl followed with a double to center field that drove in both Kirby and Fisher and extend the St. Xavier lead to 7-2. One out later, senior Jon Brus hit a long triple that scored Kuncl to make it 8-2 and led to another pitching change for the Comets.
The Bombers added 3 more runs in the bottom of the 6th inning to extend their lead to 11-2. Kuncl started the rally with a 1 out single to left field. S. Klare walked and junior Logan Rapp pinch ran for him. Both Kuncl and Rapp moved up a base on a wild pitch and Markley delivered a two out single that scored Kuncl to make it a 9-2 lead. Senior Andy Mills followed with a double that scored Rapp and Markley to make it an 11-2 lead. Kappers took it from there and sealed the 11-2 win.
Kuncl and Markley were both 2 for 4 at the plate and each had 2 RBI. Kuncl scored 2 runs and Markley had 1 run while Brus also finished 2 for 4 with 1 RBI and 1 run scored. Fisher finished 1 for 2 with 2 runs scored while Kirby finished 1 for 2 with 2 runs scored.
St. Xavier improved to 20-3 with the win and advances on to play Lebanon HS in the OHSAA Division I District Finals at Western Hills HS on Saturday, May 20 with a time TBD. Lebanon defeated Loveland 2-1 in the Cincinnati 3 Sectional Final game.