Ironton shakes off slow start to roll by Panthers in district semifinals

Published 10:31 pm Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ shortstop Chaydan Kerns (left) puts the tag on Southeastern baserunner Connor Smith during Wednesday’s Division 3 district semifinal game. Ironton won 8-3. (Tim Gearhart Sports Photo for The Ironton Tribune)

By Jim Walker

CHILLICOTHE — There’s a bit at the end of The Blue Collar Comedy Tour when Jeff Foxworth, Bill Engvall, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy would do jokes that begin with “I believe…”

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The Ironton Fighting Tigers did their own version of “I believe” only this time it was no joke as they shook off a slow start and got serious as they beat the Southeastern Panthers 8-3 in the Division 3 district semifinals on Wednesday at Paints Stadium.

Ironton trailed 2-0 after two-and-a-half innings before coming to life and rolling to the win.

“We showed a lot of character by going down early, but our kids continued putting pressure on (Southeastern),” said Ironton coach Jim Williams.

“We had the will to win and the players believed in each other. That made the difference.”

Ironton Fighting Tigers Ian Ginger gets the pitching win. (Tim Gearhart Sports Photo for The Ironton Tribune)

Ironton (14-6) will face Wheelersburg at 7:15 p.m. Friday in the district finals at Paints Stadium. Wheelersburg beat Zane Trace 3-1.

After a scoreless first inning, the Panthers got a run in the second.

Andrew Leach singled, Connor Smith’s attempted sacrifice bunt was booted for an error, Hudson Drake grounded out as the runners moved up a base and Travis Chenault singled as Leach scored but Smith was thrown out trying to score.

Southeastern got another run in the top of the third.

Gage Cheadle got a one-out single, Joey Pfeifer drew a two-out walk sending Cheadle to second. Cheadle stole third and scored on a passed ball.

But Ironton answered with 3 runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for good.

With 2 outs, Ian Ginger walked, stole second and scored when Chaydan Kerns was safe on an error.

Kerns went to second on the error and scored on a single by Brady Moatz. On the throw home trying to get Kerns out, Moatz went to second and scored on a hit by Trevor Kleinman.

The Fighting Tigers scored 2 more runs in the fourth and the lead was 5-2.

With 2 outs, Connor Kleinman walked, stole second and went to third when Braydon Baker singled.

Baker stole second and an error allowed Kleinman to score. Kerns then singled to drive in Baker.

Ironton got another run in the fifth to lead 6-2.

Trevor Kleinman walked, Hunter Freeman put down a sacrifice that enabled Kleinman to go all the way to third. Cole Freeman grounded out as Kleinman scored.

The Fighting Tigers added 2 more runs in the sixth inning with 2 outs.

Kerns singled, stole second and came home on a hit by Moatz. Pinch-runner Tyler Roach stole second and scored on a hit by Trevor Kleinman.

Southeastern pushed across a run in the seventh on hits by Drake, Carson McWhorter and Tyler Brown.

Ginger went 6.1 innings to get the win as he gave up 8 hits and one earned run while striking out 6 and walking 2. Trevor Kleinman came on and struck out the final 2 batters to end the game.

Trevor Kleinman 2-3 and 2 RBI, Moatz was 2-4 with 2 runs batted in and Kerns 2-4 with an RBI. Tanner Moore and Baker each went 1-3 as Ironton got 8 hits.

Pfeifer started and went 2.2 innings for the Panthers as he took the loss. He gave up 3 unearned runs and 2 hits, struck out 2, walked one, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.

Browns was 2-4 with an RBI to pace Southeastern.

Southeastern 011 000 1 = 3 8 3

Ironton       003 212 x = 8 8 1

Joey Pfeifer, Carson McWhorter (3), Andrew Leach (6) and Hudson Drake. Ian Ginger, Trevor Kleinman (7) and Hunter Freeman. W-Ginger (IP-7.0, H-8, R-3, ER-1, K-6, BB-1, WP-2) Save-Kleinman (IP-0.2, H-0, R-0, K-2, BB-0). L-Pfeifer (IP-2.2, H-2, R-3, ER-0, K-2, BB-1, HBP-1, WP-1). McWhorter (IP-3.0, H-5, R-5, K-3, BB-2). Leach (IP-0.1, H-1, R-0, K-02 Hitting-Southeastern: Tyler Brown 2-4 RBI, Gage Cheadle 1-3, Joey Pfeifer 1-2 2B, Andrew Leach 1-3, Hudson Drage 1-3 Travis Chenault 1-3, Carson McWhorter 1-3; Ironton: Chaydan Kerns 2-4 RBI, Brady Moatz 2-4 2-RBI, Trevor Kleinman 2-3 2-RBI, Tanner Moore 1-3, Braydon Baker 1-3.