By John Bombatch
BEAVERCREEK — In a regular season battle between two of the area’s top three seeded Division I high school baseball teams, host Beavercreek came out on top of Vandalia Butler by a 4-1 score.
Butler (21-3), the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s North champs and Division I overall no. 2 seed in the sectional baseball postseason tournament, got on the scoreboard first. The Aviators’ Dusty Lewis led off the game with a first-pitch triple into left center field, then scored on Chandler Craine’s fielder’s choice infield grounder.
Third-seeded Beavercreek (20-6), the GWOC Central tri-champs with Centerville and Kettering Fairmont, countered with a run of its own in the second inning. Dusty Salyers doubled with one out, then the Beavers senior scored on an Aviators throwing error.
The third inning saw the Beavers tack on a couple more runs. Trey Funderberg scored on Jackson Back’s double to center, then Back slid home to score on Brandon DeWitt’s sacrifice fly to center for a 3-1 Beavers lead.
Corey Jordison’s sixth inning single then scored Nick Elmore, who was pinch running for DeWitt, with the final run of the game.
“Butler always brings a quality baseball team onto the field. They had just knocked off (defending state D-I champion) Cincinnati Moeller on Friday, and so they were coming off a high. We just hoped we could sneak one in on them, and we managed to do it. It worked out,” Beavercreek coach Brandon Long said.
Beavercreek threw its two best pitchers — Jackson Tedder and Jackson Back — at Butler on Saturday. Tedder, a future University of Virginia Cavalier, pitched the first five innings and gave up two hits. Back, who has signed to play at Coker College in South Carolina, gave up one hit in the final two innings of play.
“That wasn’t originally the plan. We usually go with a series of relievers in between their starts, but the longer Jackson (Tedder) went, the stronger he was. He kept saying ‘Gimme 10 more (pitches), give me another inning.’ Finally, we had to say ‘Nope, that’s enough,’ ” Long said. “But then having Jackson Back on the back end, it’s quite a contrast in pitching styles. He varies his speeds real well, and we knew that would give them some fits.”
Zach Crawford started for the Aves. The junior righthander took the loss, giving up three runs and seven hits in three innings of work. Carson Schumann went 2 1/3 innings, giving up one hit, then Tyler Burley finished the game, giving up a run and an infield hit.
“They brought out their two best pitchers, and we made a few fielding mistakes. We just couldn’t move our runners around to score,” Vandalia coach Trent Dues said.
Asked whether a battle with another high sectional seed is something that can help the Aves get ready for the post season, Dues shrugged and said “We’ll see. I guess time will tell.”
Butler is ranked third in the latest Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association poll, while Beavercreek is ranked 17th.
“We play Butler on this same Saturday every season, then we play (top-seeded Springboro) on Monday. We could’ve put some easy wins on our schedule, but playing top-caliber teams like Butler and Springboro is what’s going to get us ready for the post season,” Long said.
Butler and Beavercreek both have first-round byes in the sectional tourney. They will put their sectional seedings to the test on May 12.
Beavercreek will host either 19th seed Riverside Stebbins or seventh seeded Miamisburg, while Butler will host no. 12 Piqua or no. 18 New Carlisle Tecumseh in sectional semifinal action.
John Bombatch can be reached at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.