By BRANDON SHRIDER
HAMLER — Chris Basinger, with just five hits on the season, is the nine-hole hitting junior right fielder for Leipsic.
But as Vikings head coach Darren Henry said, he’s the team’s “energy guy.”
Yet again, he was 0-for-1 coming to the plate in the fifth inning, with Leipsic trailing by one run with two on and nobody out.
“He is the kid that gives us energy . . . he does something to spark the team,” Henry said.
After fouling off the first pitch during his at-bat in the fifth, Basinger laid down a textbook bunt into no-man’s land between the pitcher and third baseman and beat it out for a single to load the bases.
Cole Rieman then doubled to right to drive in two runs, and Tyler Hiegel’s two-run single gave Leipsic a three-run lead as it held on to top Edon 8-2 in a Division IV regional semifinal at Patrick Henry’s Garrold Parratt Field.
Leipsic (23-5) will play Minster, which beat New London 6-1 in Friday’s other regional semifinal, in a regional title game at noon today back at Patrick Henry. Leipsic, which has now won the second-most games in school history for a single season, will be playing for just its second trip to state in school history. The other came in 1976 when the Vikings won the state title.
Edon (13-12) finished its deepest tournament run in 15 years, beating higher-seeded teams in all four tournament games leading into the regional semifinal.
“The 2-1 lead, that’s how it’s always been with us all year long. If we’re not ahead by five runs, we’re not comfortable,” Bombers head coach Matt Peters said.
“We were hoping to go further than what we did, but everybody’s expectations in Edon have been far exceeded by this baseball team.”
Despite Basinger’s rally-starting bunt, Rieman hadn’t given Henry much reason to think a double to the fence was coming.
“Cole (Rieman) didn’t look very good in there his first couple of at-bats,” Henry said of his leadoff hitter who was 0 for 2 before his fifth-inning double.
“It was almost squeeze time because he’s a great bunter. I almost talked myself into squeezing and thank God I didn’t. He shot a rocket out there. He was due, I guess he was due.”
Hiegel had not been any better than Rieman, bouncing into a pair of groundouts before his two-RBI single.
And the Vikings as a team had just two hits before the fifth-inning explosion, a single each for starter Grant Rader and Devin Hiegel, which included three 1-2-3 innings and weak contact induced by senior starter Braden Miller.
“We were a little dead at first I thought. They seemed to be a little more fired up, but we kind of came alive,” Henry said of his team that scored a tournament-high eight runs.
“I think just after seeing the Miller boy a couple times, we just seemed more comfortable in there. He was mowing us down, we weren’t getting very good swings and all of a sudden we got some momentum and got the bats going.”
Leipsic’s pitching duo of Rader and sophomore Dylan Schroeder did its job, too.
Rader, who is 6-1 striking out a batter per inning with an ERA just slightly north 1.00, was pulled after Preston Klingler led off with a double to the left-center field wall, but had Leipsic in the game down just 2-1.
“We had a really hard time picking it up out of his hand and hitting flat and on a line. You were seeing a lot of foul balls go off as well,” Peters said.
His runs allowed weren’t the most convincing either as the first came following balk that moved leadoff Carson Brandt to second, followed by an error on first baseman Jordan Berger who booted a low throw from Reiman that would’ve ended the inning.
“It’s really easy to tell with Grant. If he gives up a couple hard hits like that you gotta get him out,” Henry said.
“With him you can tell. If that fastball’s not moving, they’re on it, you gotta make a change.”
Dylan Schroeder didn’t waste any time getting acclimated from behind the plate to the bump, inducing a popout to Berger on just his second pitch. Three pitches later he got Daryke Bass to popout again to Berger. This time Klingler attempted to tag at third and score, but Berger avenged his earlier error and threaded a perfect throw to Tyler Hiegel at the plate to end the inning.
Held to two runs Friday, Edon had scored 28 runs in its first four tournament games.
“For the most part our heads were there, we just couldn’t hit the ball where it needed to go. When we did hit the ball it seemed to be right to people,” Peters said of his team that was held to two runs after scoring 28 in its first four tournament games.
Said Henry: “(Schroeder’s) been throwing the ball real well and that’s why we started him in the district final game against Kalida. it’s a nice 1-2 punch between those two to have.”
Schroeder cruised through the sixth inning, accumulating just 23 pitches, and watching his offense pile on seven runs.
This made Henry’s next decision a much easier.
Tyler Hiegel, the team’s No. 4 or 5 pitcher, came on to pitch the seventh because he is a strike-thrower. More importantly, Schroeder is available for today’s regional final game as his 23 pitches stayed within the new pitch-count rule’s daily limit of 30 pitches or less with no days of rest.
“It had everything to do with it,” Henry said.
“He (Schroeder) can pitch 125 tomorrow, but that was the key. We had a tough decision to make until we scored a couple runs.
“I don’t know what I would’ve done, if I would’ve pulled him out with a three-run lead or not.”
Basinger sparked the welcomed the insurance runs in the top of the seventh leading off the inning with a five-pitch walk. The next two also reached, including a throwing error by Braden Miller over the first baseman’s head to score two, before Schroeder notched his lone hit of the game with an RBI single to cap the scoring.
Devin Hiegel singled twice for the Vikings, including a one-out single to begin the fifth-inning rally and an RBI for the first run of the game in the second.
Leipsic 010 040 3 — 8 9 2
Edon 011 000 0 — 2 5 1
WP — D. Schroeder (9-1). LP — Miller. top hitters: (Leip) D. Hiegel 2-1B, RBI; Rader 2-1B; Rieman 2B, 2 RBI; T. Hiegel 1B, 2 RBI. (Edon) L. Brandt 1B, 2B, RBI; Klingler 2B.
records: Leipsic 23-5; Edon 13-12.
Regional Baseball: Basinger sparks Leipsic’s win over Bombers
By BRANDON SHRIDER