Blair Oaks uses eight-run inning to down North Callaway

Logan Gratz of Blair Oaks connects for a game-ending RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning during Wednesday’s game against North Callaway at the Falcon Athletic Complex.

Logan Gratz of Blair Oaks connects for a game-ending RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning during Wednesday’s game against North Callaway at the Falcon Athletic Complex. Photo by Kris Wilson.

WARDSVILLE — A big crooked number has become the norm for Blair Oaks lately.

A five-run inning in an April 30 win against Warsaw. A six-run frame in Tuesday’s win against School of the Osage. A seven-run inning later Tuesday in a win against California.

The Falcons topped all of those with an eight-run frame Wednesday in a 10-0 victory in six innings against North Callaway on Senior Night at the Falcon Athletic Complex.

“In the last couple of weeks it seems like we’ve kind of been able to manage that big inning,” Blair Oaks head coach Harv Antle said. “We broke it open against Warsaw and then continued to do that (Tuesday) night against Osage and California. We found another one tonight. Certainly that’s a weapon. We’re more than capable up and down our lineup of stringing some hits together and starting to mix in some extra-base hits. It seems that as the weather has warmed up, so have the bats.”

It was the fourth inning this time.

Ahead 1-0 on a second-inning RBI single from Ryan Abbott, the Falcon bats busted out in a big way.

Blair Oaks sent 14 batters to the plate in the frame and didn’t make an out until the 10th batter.

“We were able to finish them off early,” Antle said.

Kyler Maxey led off with a base hit before Hayden Haney blasted a two-run homer down the left-field line to make it 3-0.

“We hadn’t hit a home run at all until (Tuesday) night, and we had three, and then another one today,” Antle said. “Obviously that’s something you don’t necessarily want to rely on, but it’s nice to know that the potential is there.”

Daniel Castillo followed with a single before Abbott brought him in with a double to the gap in left. Jacob Koelling reached on an error before Logan Gratz loaded the bases with a bunt single. Derek Otto earned an easy RBI by being hit by a pitch, and after a Thunderbird pitching change, Logan Bax did the same to make it 6-0. Beau Distler made it 8-0 with a two-run single to right.

Maxey, batting for the second time in the inning, finally made the frame’s first out with a deep flyout to left. Blair Oaks added another run on an error but left the bases loaded with two straight strikeouts.

“Up and down the lineup, that’s a comforting feeling that you have a chance to score in every inning,” Antle said. “The big innings are nice, but from a coach’s perspective, you’ll take one an inning. That’s seven a game and you’re going to win an awful lot of ball games doing that.”

North Callaway’s best chance to score came in the top of the sixth when Chance Kee reached on a two-out, three-base error. Koelling got the next batter to pop up to end the threat.

“Even in the inning where we misplayed a ball in the outfield, he preserved the shutout,” Antle said of Koelling. “He buckled down and got out of the inning and didn’t let them on the scoreboard and were able to come back in and score the one to finish the game.”

Seth Eskens and Ryan Voss led off the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back singles. Two outs later, Gratz smacked a double to the gap in left to bring home the 10th run and invoke the mercy rule.

While the Falcon bats were busy bringing in runs, Koelling was at his best once again at preventing them.

The senior right-hander threw all six innings and allowed just two hits while striking out 11. He didn’t allow a hit after the second inning.

“When you’ve got somebody like Jacob on the mound who can control the game, it puts you in a pretty good place,” Antle said.

“Probably wasn’t his best, and he kind of fought through some things, but I think he showed what a competitor he is tonight. That’s a good club and he was able to shut them out.”

Koelling finished the regular season with a 6-0 record and a 0.70 ERA in 40 innings pitched. He allowed just 12 hits all season long and struck out 54 batters.

Blair Oaks begins Class 3 District 13 play Saturday at home as the No. 2 seed. The Falcons play No. 7 seed Versailles at 11:30 a.m.

III

Blair Oaks honored a whopping nine seniors — Dustin Blomberg, Voss, Distler, Castillo, Maxey, Otto, Abbott, Koelling and Austin Galbraith — in a postgame ceremony for Senior Night. Everybody in the group got at least one at-bat.

“It’s been a good group. We’ve had those guys all the way through obviously and they’ve stuck it out and put a lot of time and work in. They’ve all contributed at the varsity level in some respect. They love the game, they work hard, they’re good teammates. Certainly we’ll miss them next year. We want to send them out the way they want to go out. We feel like there’s room for more.”

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