Early runs carry Shawnee past Graham


Written on a dry-erase board in the home dugout Thursday at Gary Flora Field were six words to live by for the Shawnee baseball team: “Do or die time! Brave strong.”

The Braves hadn’t won a tournament game since 2009, meaning no one on the current team had experienced postseason success on the diamond. If any team had the potential to break that streak, it was this one, and Shawnee proved that to be true with a five-run first inning on the way to a 6-3 victory over Graham in a Division II sectional semifinal.

“This is the best team we’ve had here in four years,” senior Andrew Young said. “We’ve always been a high seed and have always gotten upset. We’ve got the core guys to do it. It’s going to be exciting.”

Third-seeded Shawnee (16-10) will play No. 6 Kenton Ridge (14-13) in the sectional final at 5 p.m. Thursday at Urbana. The Braves swept the Cougars 4-3 and 4-3 in the regular season.

There was little doubt from the start that Shawnee would get past No. 9 Graham (8-19). The Braves had six hits in the first inning. Three were infield singles.

Jordan Huggins started the rally with a hard shot off Graham pitcher William Wells. Huggins came around to score on a fielder’s-choice groundout by Evan Lyons. Young added an RBI single, and then T.J. Skaggs drove in two with a double. Skaggs scored the fifth run of the inning on a Graham error.

“That put them on their heels,” Young said. “They were shell-shocked.”

That was plenty of run support for Shawnee starter Derek Zinkhon (4-2), who didn’t give up a hit until the sixth when the Falcons broke through for three runs thanks, in part, to two Shawnee errors.

“Getting those five runs really boosted my confidence level,” Zinkhon said.

Zinkhon struck out six, walked three and gave up two hits in seven innings.

“He prepared himself really well,” Shawnee coach Andy DeWitt said. “He was ready. There was pretty much no question who I was going to go with tonight because he’s got experience. He had good velocity. When he hits his spots and goes at batters and makes them swing the bat, he can be really successful, and tonight he started off really well for us.”

Shawnee scored one more run in the fifth, and Young gets all the credit for that. He stole second, third and home. He was racing for home on a squeeze play. Zinkhon missed the bunt, but Young scored anyway.

“I’ve never done that before,” Young said. “The third baseman was playing pretty deep. I got a walking lead. I was about halfway down the line before the kid even threw the ball.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in

Dragons beat Chiefs 6-5 in 13 innings
Dragons beat Chiefs 6-5 in 13 innings

Extra innings has not been kind to the Dragons of late. They had dropped all eight of their most recent extra-session contests but snapped that streak Thursday night. It took 13 innings, but the Dragons were gifted a 6-5 defeat of the visiting Peoria Chiefs (Cardinals) at Fifth Third Field. With two outs in the 13th, the Chiefs’ center fielder...
Reds notes: Suarez moves up in the order — and delivers
Reds notes: Suarez moves up in the order — and delivers

Eugenio Suarez’s batting average isn’t really that much to be proud of, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been an effective hitter this season for the Cincinnati Reds. Suarez, who’s spent most of the season batting in the middle of manager Bryan Price’s lineups, made his first appearance in the No. 2 slot in Thursday&rsquo...
Red ruminations: Castillo not terrible, so at least there was that
Red ruminations: Castillo not terrible, so at least there was that

The Reds’ 12-2 loss to the Diamondbacks Thursday afternoon was a bit like throwing gas on a fire, but there was -- sort of -- some balm to be found in Great American Ball Park. At least there was this about starter Luis Castillo: The rookie starting pitcher allowed four earned runs in six innings, which isn’t fantastic (unless indexed against...
Pitching putrid again as Reds get shellacked by Diamondbacks
Pitching putrid again as Reds get shellacked by Diamondbacks

The Reds left Great American Ball Park after Wednesday’s 11-inning, 4-3 walkoff win over Arizona expecting to face Diamondbacks right-hander Taijuan Walker in Thursday afternoon’s series finale. They showed up the next morning and learned that Walker had left the team overnight to tend to his wife Heather, who’d gone into labor. Left-hander...
5 quick facts from Ohio State football’s new media guide
5 quick facts from Ohio State football’s new media guide

Missing college football?  Well, it won’t be long now as conference media days have already started and preseason schedules are starting to be announced.  For some people*, reading through the new media guide is also one of those rites of summer.  Scrolling through a PDF isn’t quite the same as tearing through those old glossy...
More Stories