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Ironton upset bid falls short in sectionals

Jim Walker



OAK HILL — If it wasn’t for bad luck, the Ironton Fighting Tigers might not have any luck at all.

In a classic pitchers’ duel, the Oak Hill Oaks escaped the Fighting Tigers 2-1 on Saturday in the Division III sectional finals.

Ironton’s Steven Easterling was the tough-luck loser despite pitching a four-hitter. Easterling struck out 11, walked four and hit a batter in going the distance. Both runs were earned.

Oak Hill’s Colton Cox got the win as he also fashioned a four-hitter. He struck out five, walked just one and the one run he allowed was earned.

“Steven pitched a great game,” said Ironton coach Larry Goodwin. “I made some aggressive decisions that did not pay off for us. Wes Hairston (former Rock Hill coach) once told me ‘that when coaching, make your decisions and don’t look back.’”

Oak Hill took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning and made it stand up.

Jonathan Harrison led off the inning with a double and Wes Harden bunted for a hit. Both runners moved up when Garrin Stiltner grounded out and then scored on a single by Drew Haislop.

“Steven made a good pitch but Haislop was able to get his bat on the ball and drop it in there,” said Goodwin.

Ironton (10-9) answered with a run in the top of the fifth inning and cut the deficit to 2-1.

Derek Battise had a leadoff single and Tanner Price became the pinch-runner. Price moved to second base on a ground out and scampered to third on a wild pitch. Mo Phillips grounded out to second but Price scored on the play.

Hunter Klaiber followed with a base hit but Cox struck out the next batter to end the inning.

In the seventh inning, Aaron Stephens singled but Battise hit into a force play at second. Cox got a strikeout for the second out and pinch-runner Hunter Weber was caught stealing on the hit-and-run play.

Stephens, Battise, Klaiber and Trevor Easterling had Ironton’s hits.

“I am proud of all our players. They gave 110 percent all season long,” said Goodwin. “I would like to thank my assistant coaches Brett Thomas and Chuck Murnahan for a great job they did this year.”

Oak Hill is 18-7, tying the school record for wins.

Ironton 000 010 0 = 1 4 0

Oak Hill 002 000 x = 2 4 0

Steven Easterling and Aaron Stephens. Colton and Wes Harden. W-Cox (IP-7, H-4, R-1, ER-1, K-5, BB-1). L-Easterling (IP-6, H-4, R-2, ER-2, K-11, BB-4, HBP-1). 2B-OH: Jonathan Harrison. Hitting-Ironton: Aaron Stephens 1-3, Derek Battise 1-3, Mo Phillips rbi, Hunter Klaiber 1-2, Trevor Easterling 1-2, Tanner Price run; Oak Hill: Wes Harden 1-3 run, Garrin Stiltner 1-2, Drew Haislop 1-2 rbi-2, Jonathan Harrison 1-1 run.