Oaks advance to first regional in six decades
Jackson County Times-Journal
CHILLICOTHE — The water cooler bath that Oak Hill High School baseball coach Jason Wright received Wednesday evening was symbolic of the drought which came to an end.
Indeed, it has been a long, long wait — made extra longer by three extra innings in Wednesday’s Division III Southeast District championship game at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe. But for the first time since clear back in 1956, the Oak Hill Oaks advanced to the regional baseball tournament, as the Oaks outlasted the Zane Trace Pioneers 4-3 in a 10-inning marathon.
The Oaks also improved upon their school record for most victories in a single season, upping their mark to 20-8. The Oak Hill High School senior class also became the first group in school history — boys or girls — to make the regional round in all three “major” team sports of football, basketball and baseball.
It was a pair of seniors who came through in the clutch on Wednesday.
Waylon Boggs singled to center to score Garrin Stiltner with what proved to be the game-winning run in the 10th inning. Stiltner led off with a walk, stole second on a strikeout, and then scored on Boggs’ hard-hit base hit back through the box.
The ace pitcher Colton Cox, who relived starter and sophomore Joey Gallagher in the seventh inning, came back to face the minimum Pioneers in the eighth and ninth innings after losing the save opportunity in the seventh. With Boggs’ base hit in the 10th, Cox collected his eighth pitching victory as he had to exit after the ninth following his 10-inning pitching limit for the week.
He pitched a complete seven-inning affair on Tuesday night, in which the Oaks erased a 4-1 deficit and defeated Huntington 6-4. Gallagher got the save after coming back on the mound in the 10th, including inducing Wes Beam — arguably the Pioneers’ top hitter — to pop out to lead off.
Phil Heskett singled and Colin Swackhammer was hit by a pitch, but Gallagher got Nat Mavis to fly out to right and struck out the final Pioneer to end the game.
Oak Hill scored single runs in the first, fifth and seventh stanzas, but Zane Trace came back with single tallies in the first, third and seventh.
Beam’s two-out RBI-single in the seventh forced the extra innings, and tied the contest for the third and final time. Beam had three of the Pioneers’ 10 hits, as Boggs and Cox collected two hits apiece for the Oaks.
Zane Trace pitcher Trent Downs allowed seven hits in going nine and 1/3 innings in the loss. Zane Trace stranded 11 baserunners and committed three errors in the contest.
The Pioneers end their season at 20-10, while Oak Hill returns to VA Memorial Stadium in exactly a week — for their first regional appearance in almost six decades. The Oaks encounter West Lafayette Ridgewood, which won the East District championship.
First pitch is set for 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 30.
Oak Hill 100 010 100 1 — 4 7 1
Zane Trace 100 100 100 0 — 3 10 3
W — Colton Cox (8-2)
L — Trent Downs (n/a)
Sv — Joey Gallagher (n/a)
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