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Ironton rally falls just short

What if?

The Ironton Fighting Tigers got behind early, then let a golden opportunity slip away as their comeback bid fell just short in an 8-7 loss to the Minford Falcons Saturday in the Div. III sectional finals.

Ironton rallied from an 8-4 deficit to get within a run. The Fighting Tigers had runners at second and third with two outs in the bottom of the seventh but couldn’t capitalize.

“We dug ourselves a big hole and then we had to fight back,” said Ironton coach Tobey Schreck. “We had a chance at the end, but we had other chances. It shouldn’t have come down to the last inning.”

Ray Bryan led off the game with a home run for Minford and the Falcons came back to score four more in the second.

A wild pitch third strike started the rally and then Tyler Gains, Bryan and Brandon Lore all singled for two runs. A sacrifice fly and an error scored the next two runs.

Ironton rallied to get four runs in the bottom of the second.

Jonathan Williams doubled, “Tractor” Taylor Barker walked and Howie Lucas singled in a run. An out later, Keith Wetzel smacked a two-run double and he scored when Josh Pancake reached on an error.

Minford got a run in the third inning when Gaines reached on a two-out error and Bryan singled.

Jacob Hackworth singled to start the sixth inning and University of Cincinnati recruit Aaron Oesch belted a two-run homer.

The Fighting Tigers cut the deficit to 8-6 in the bottom of the sixth.

With one out, Darren Dalton singled and Barker walked and both scored on a two-out triple by Steve Easterling.

Ironton tried to come all the way back in the seventh against Oesch who came on in relief after Easterling’s hit.

With one out, Anthony Harper singled, went to second on a wild pitch and took third on a balk. Ethan Preston walked and Williams grounded out to first base with Harper scoring.

Preston moved to third on a passed ball and then Dalton walked. Minford didn’t make a play on Dalton who attempted to start the “stop-steal” play and Ironton had the potential tying and winning runs in scoring position.

But Oesch struck out the next batter to end the game.

“The kids played hard and didn’t quit. Williams did a nice job in relief. I think he got a little tired in the sixth,” said Schreck.

Williams struck out nine, walked two and gave up three runs — two earned — with five hits in 4.2 innings.

Ironton ends the season 14-11.

Minford 141 002 0 = 8 10 2

Ironton 040 002 1 = 7 7 3

Tyler Sanford (5.2 IP, 6-R, 5-ER, 6-H, 2-BB, 5-K), Aaron Oesch (1.1 IP, 1-R, 1-ER, 1-H, 2-BB, 2-K) and Aaron Oesch, Miller (6). Howie Lucas (1.1 IP, 5-R, 2-ER, 5-H, 1-BB, 3-K), Jonathan Williams (4.2 IP, 3-R, 2-ER, 5-H, 2-BB, 9-K), Josh Pancake (1 IP) and Ethan Preston. W-Sanford. L-Lucas. Save-Oesch. 2B-Ironton: Jonathan Williams, Keith Wetzel. 3B-Ironton: Steve Easterling. HR-Minford: Ray Bryan, Aaron Oesch. Hitting-Minford: Ray Bryan 3-4, Brandon Lore 2-5, Jacob Hackworth 1-5, Aaron Oesch 1-3, Miller 1-4, Tyler Gaines 2-4; Ironton: Anthony Harper 1-4, Ethan Preston 1-3, Jonathan Williams 1-4, Darren Dalton 1-3, Howie Lucas 1-3, Keith Wetzel 1-3.