WARSAW -- A strong second half surge continued for the Ridgewood High baseball team on Tuesday, resulting in a Division III District Championship following a 7-0 victory over Fort Frye in the district title game at River View High School.
The Generals notched their six consecutive victory to improve to 17-9 on the season and earn a trip to the Division III Regional at Paints Stadium in Chillicothe on Thursday, May 30 at 5 p.m. RHS will face Oak Hill in the semifinal game.
The appearance at the regional level for the Generals will be the sixth in school history, having previously made trips in 1969, 1975, 1999, 2004 and 2006. With the 1999 squad advancing all the way to the regional finals for the best RHS showing.
"We've been playing real well lately," Ridgewood first-year coach Chad Lahna explained. "We've got some momentum going and that can be contagious in baseball...we just want to keep it going and keep playing baseball."
Ridgewood wasted little time in flexing its muscle, putting up a five-run first inning off Fort Frye starter Casey Hall to bolt out to a quick 5-0 lead.
Brice Hammond, Seth Bergeron and C.J. Grove connected for three straight base hits to open the game as the Orange and Black came out swinging the bats. Grove's single to right field plated Hammond with the game's first run. Senior Zak Keesee followed with an RBI single to bring Bergeron to the plate and catcher Ryan Lowe then stroked a double to left-center to score Grove and Keesee for the inning's third and fourth runs. Gage Young then picked up an RBI with a ground out to second that brought Lowe across the plate to cap the big first inning rally.
Ridgewood was able to tack on a run in their second trip to the plate toe extend the lead out to 6-0, with Grove driving in his second run of the game with a ringing base hit to right field.
"It's always good to get out quickly like we did tonight," Lahna said. "It gives you a big boost and also helps your pitcher to relay a little bit right out of the gate."
That proved to be the case as Keesee toed the rubber for the Generals, and appeared to be very relaxed with the big early lead.
Following a lead-off single by Spencer Lang of Fort Frye, Keesee retired six consecutive hitters before walking a pair of Cadets in the third frame with one out. But Keesee regrouped and held Fort Frye off the scoreboard by getting a pair of groundouts to end the inning.
Keesee really found his groove at that point, setting down the next nine Fort Frye hitters in a row headed to the seventh inning.
"Zak was in complete control out there tonight," Lahna said. "That's his second straight game where he had control of all of his pitches. He just kept the ball down and was able to get ahead of the hitters all night which is always a plus."
"He also got some solid help from his defense which played well behind him," Lahna continued. "Our defense has been coming along here in the second half of the season. I feel we've been doing a much better job of communicating out there on defense and it has really helped."
RHS added an insurance run in the top of the seventh, when Keesee tallied his second RBI of the night with a groundout that scored Bergeron who reached on an error to start the inning.
Keesee took the mound in the seventh looking to finish off the complete game shutout and things started out shaky as the Generals' defense had a momentary lapse with a pair of errors to open the inning.
But Keesee went right to work and retired the next two Fort Frye hitters via strikeout and then induced Issac Klinger to hit a weak pop-up to end the game and send the Generals on to the regional.
Keesee allowed just two singles on the night and finished with three strikeouts and walked two hitters in hurling the shutout.
Ridgewood finished with seven hits with Grove leading the way with a pair of base hits, two RBIs while Gage Young stroked a double and Keesee and Lowe each added singles with two RBIs.
Fort Frye finished with just two singles, on base hits from Spencer Lang and Chandler Lang.
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The Generals played a regular season Inter-Valley Conference make-up game with Malvern on Thursday and kept things rolling, posting a 10-2 victory to improve to 18-9.
Seth Walters pitched a complete game for RHS (11-2 in the IVC), striking out three and not allowing a walk.
Seth Bergeron collected a double, single and two RBI and Kody Hains had three singles and an RBI to lead the Generals. Bergeron chipped in two singles and two RBI while Ryan Lowe added two singles and an RBI.
Johnson had a double, singlea nd an RBI to pace Malvern.