SOUTH CHARLESTON — A year ago, the Southeastern High School baseball team fell to eventual state champion Russia 6-2 in a Division IV regional semifinal game.
The Trojans led 2-0 early in the game, but gave up six runs in the fourth inning and could never recover.
The loss has served as motivation all season for the Trojans, who are back in a D-IV regional semifinal game after beating Felicity-Franklin 16-0 in five innings last week to claim their second straight district championship.
“It hurt last year losing like that with all the runs scoring in one inning,” said Trojans senior Kason Spears. “We’ll be ready.”
Southeastern (14-9) will face Bradford (21-10) in a D-IV regional semifinal game at 2 p.m. Thursday at Carleton Davidson Stadium in Springfield.
“As a senior, I’m thrilled to be back,” said Trojans senior Aiden Harbage. “I hope to be on the top end of this one. We’ve been preparing all week for it. We’re glad to be back and playing in Springfield. I’m sure it’s going to be a packed house.”
The winner will play either Russia (23-6) or Sugar Grove Berne Union (16-9) at 2 p.m. Friday, June 2, at Wright State University for a trip to the D-IV state semifinals. All tickets must be purchased online at OHSAA.org.
Southeastern is seeking its first state baseball berth since 1969.
“The end goal is to play the last game of the season,” said Trojans coach Darron Routzahn.
Bradford is led by junior pitcher Tucker Miller, who leads the Western Ohio Athletic Conference in strikeouts (107) and wins (8). He also ranks among the league’s top hitters with a .439 batting average and two home runs.
“We’ll have to start our swings early, play sound defense like we’ve been playing and have sound pitching from our staff and I think we’ll be OK,” Routzahn said.
With the game being played at Carleton Davidson Stadium, the Trojans are hoping to get a boost from the hometown crowd.
“Everybody better wear red,” Routzahn said.
Routzahn was an assistant coach in 2012 when the Trojans last played a regional semifinal game.
“It was a great experience and it was a packed house at the time,” Routzahn said. “It came down to the wire and we came up just a bit short. To play under those circumstances with a large crowd and a nice stadium with the fanatics from South Charleston supporting us, it was a great experience.”
The goal, Spears said, is to keep playing as long as possible. The Trojans are peaking at the right time, too, he said.
“It feels like we’re getting better every game the past two weeks,” Spears said. “Hopefully the bats can come alive and we’ll keep playing defense.”