By Bill Mullaly / Special to the Hillsdale Daily News
The Reading Rangers made a quick exit from the 2009 division 4 regional baseball tournament at Homer on Saturday via a 17-7 loss to Ottawa Lake-Whiteford in the semifinals.
The contest went just five innings as the Bobcats knocked the Rangers out of the postseason for the second year in a row.
The Rangers got off to a good start scoring four runs in the second inning to break a scoreless tie, but the lead would not hold up.
A walk to Ryan Dillon, a single by Taylor Miller and a walk to Connor Aemisegger loaded the bases and a two-run single by Trevor Shafer put the Rangers up 2-0.
A walk to Joe Hubbard loaded the bases again and this time Tyler Ferrier plated two runs with a double to center field.
The Bobcats got a run back in the bottom of the second to make it 4-1. Then the wheels came off for the Rangers and the flood gates opened in the bottom of the third.
Ottawa Lake scored nine runs to seize control of the game and take a commanding 10-4 lead after three innings. They chased Dillon from the mound and senior classmate Sam Creel took over and fared about the same.
Whiteford sent 13 batters to the plate and used five hits and some shaky Ranger defense to score the runs in the third. Toss in a pair of walks and it was a real long half-inning for the Rangers.
“Whiteford hit the ball very well and they put the ball in play the whole game,” Reading head coach Rick Bailey said. “We didn’t make the plays and get the outs in the third inning like we needed to. We didn’t limit them to just a couple of runs and you can’t give up a big inning like that and expect to win.”
Whiteford scored four more runs in the bottom of the fourth to go up 14-4 and they needed three outs to mercy the Rangers.
Reading didn’t quit, as they never do, and bounced back with three runs in the top of the fifth.
A walk to Dillon, a single by Chad Berger and double by Miller scored a run. Aemisegger and Shafer added run-scoring hits to make it 14-7.
“I give our kids credit for battling and they scored three runs there late to give us seven runs and in lots of game that’s enough but not this time,” Bailey said.
The Bobcats quickly responded with three hits and two runs and finally ended things with another base-hit to score a run.
While Whiteford had 18 hits in a powerful show of offense, two of the top Ranger bats were held hitless as Dillon and Creel both didn’t record a hit. But that didn’t diminish the role they played in leading the Rangers all year long.
Reading started 2-6 and then won 17 of their next 21 to finish at 19-10.
“Ryan and Sam were great senior leaders and they were our two holdovers from the state title team two years ago,” said Bailey about his two prize seniors. “They were a big part of what we did two years ago and they led our turnaround this year. They will be missed.”
Bailey also said it will be hard to replace fellow seniors Marshall Burlew and Kyle Gibson
Petersburg-Summerfield beat Homer 12-5 in the first game of the day and in the final Summerfield mercied Whiteford 12-2 to claim the regional crown.