Chase Butler went 2-for-3 with one run, one RBI, one walk and two steals for the Whiteoak Wildcats in their sectional final win over Sciotoville East Tuesday. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Chase Butler went 2-for-3 with one run, one RBI, one walk and two steals for the Whiteoak Wildcats in their sectional final win over Sciotoville East Tuesday. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
MOWRYSTOWN — Step one of the Division IV postseason tournament was taken by the Whiteoak Wildcats on Tuesday night, as they easily took control of their sectional final game against the visiting Sciotoville East Tartans and set a school record in steals in the process, winning by a 17-2 score in five innings.

Whiteoak’s run-rule win not only saw them gain 13 steals in the win, but they dominated in all facets of the game, allowing them to advance to the Division IV SE District Semifinals on Monday, May 20 against No. 6 seeded Waterford at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe at 7 p.m. On Tuesday, Waterford defeated No. 3 seeded Trimble, 5-3.

For the game, the Wildcats totaled 13 hits, 13 steals, 13 RBI, seven walks and were hit by a pitch on three occasions.

“Tonight was a situation where we talked about going in that it didn’t matter who we are playing because it isn’t who you play, but it is how you play, and you aren’t playing your opponent, but you are playing the game. I felt overall, we did a pretty nice job of that,” WHS head coach Chris Veidt said. “We played solid defense, the guys hit the ball hard all over the place and threw strikes on the mound.

“Going into this game, we had a week last week where we played some really tough competition. We played Miami Trace, Portsmouth Clay, Piketon and Portsmouth West, and two of those games were extra-inning games. We were really trying to simulate tournament competition and have a tournament-type atmosphere, so we had a great week last week. I don’t think we could have been in a better position coming into this game.”

In the sectional final win in their final home game of the 2019 season, the Wildcats — who are now 24-3 overall — trailed after the top of the first inning was completed with the Tartans gaining a lead-off walk, followed by consecutive singles that led to the first run of the game with no outs.

From that point on, the Wildcats settled down and were off to the races as starting pitcher Evan Brill recorded three straight outs off a groundout and consecutive called third strikes to wrap up the inning.

Then came the Wildcats, and they didn’t stop for the next five innings of play. For the first inning, they opened their visits to the plate by sending nine total batters in the inning, resulting in a 4-1 lead at the conclusion of the first inning of play.

Traeten Hamilton (1-for-1, two walks, three runs, one HBP, four steals) began the game with a five-pitch walk and followed by stealing second base. Zach Harless (1-for-4, two runs, two steals, two RBI) then reached first base on an error that allowed Hamilton to score a run. Next was a single hit by Mason Lehr, who also stole second base. Lehr finished 3-for-4 with two RBI, three runs and one steal.

Ty Large (1-for-3, three runs, one RBI, one walk, one steal) reached first base on an error, which allowed Harless to complete his trip around the bases on the sunny day in Mowrystown, pushing the Wildcats in front by a 2-1 score. A walk by Brill loaded the bases for the Wildcats, and Trey Bogart (one RBI, one HBP) was hit by a pitch to score Lehr, making it a two-run lead for WHS.

Next, a sacrifice fly hit to centerfield by Ryan Roberts allowed Large to score a run, pushing the Wildcats’ lead to 4-1. Roberts’ day saw him go 2-for-2 with a sacrifice, one walk, one steal, two runs and four RBI.

Brill was nearly flawless in the top of the second on the mound, striking out the first batter of the inning, followed by hitting the next batter. He rebounded and then some by striking out the next two batters, including ending the inning on a called third strike to keep the WHS lead at three runs.

The bottom of the second was more dominating for the Wildcats, this time with Hamilton starting the inning by being hit by a pitch. He stole second and later stole third base as well, and with one out he scored a run off a hard-hit double to the left field fence by Lehr, giving WHS a 5-1 lead.

That lead increased as Large walked in the ensuing at-bat, and both Brill and Large rounded the bases for a run off a single hit by Brill, who made it to second base on the throw home, giving the Wildcats a 7-1 advantage with one out. Brill finished 2-for-2 with two runs, two walks and two RBI.

Brill scored a run with two outs as Roberts hit the ball to centerfield. Roberts later stole second and went to third base on a passed ball. Chase Butler (2-for-3, one run, one RBI, one walk, two steals) walked on a full count, and Billy Oliver (1-for-3, one run, a sacrifice, two steals) reached first as he was hit by a pitch.

With the bases loaded and two outs against him, Hamilton opened up the game with a base hit to left field — with a 2-2 count — to score both Roberts and Butler for a 10-1 lead.

The top of the third saw the Tartans score their second and final run of the game off a sacrifice fly to centerfield, as the lead-off batter reached first on a walk.

Both teams had one base runner in the third inning off a walk, and in the top of the fourth inning Brill collected two more strikeouts on the mound.

The bottom of the fourth saw the return of the Wildcat bats from earlier in the game as Roberts showed patience at the plate to start the inning off a full-count walk. Next, Butler sent him to third base off a single that dropped into right field. Butler stole second, and Oliver batted in Roberts with a single to centerfield.

Though Butler eventually was out at third base, he did his job by getting Roberts into scoring position. Next, following Oliver’s RBI single, was Hamilton drawing a full-count walk, then Harless fired a single to centerfield to plate both Oliver and Hamilton for a 13-2 lead.

Harless eventually scored a run off a single past third base by Lehr, and Lehr himself added a run, as did Large — who singled to left field — off a base hit to centerfield by Roberts. Before the two-out hit, Brill reached the bases off a single to left field. Brill scored what was the 17th and final run of the game for the Wildcats off a single by Butler, sending the ball past the shortstop.

“Our team offense was impressive in terms of the choices we made,” Veidt said. “We had three 8-to-10-pitch at-bats, and Mason hit the ball hard. Those are really things that stand out to me. We only had one error, and once again we played really clean defense. We have a defensive average of around .950, and I didn’t think it was possible to have better team defense than we did last year, and we are almost 10 percentage points better than last year.

“Again, we’ve been here before, and you just play the game (in returning to districts). We are playing at a different venue, which is fun, and from this point on we’ll be facing good, solid opponents, and we are looking forward to that type of competition.”

The pitching for the Wildcats saw Hamilton earn the win in his final start on his home field. Hamilton pitched six innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks. The senior struck out seven batters in the win.

Roberts pitched one inning of relief where he allowed no runs on no hits, one walk and one hit batter, while also collecting three strikeouts.

“It was good to get Ryan some work late because it has been a while since he’s gotten on the mound,” Veidt said. “He’s had a great year, and he’s not lost a high school game in his career, and it was good to get him some work. It was a beautiful day for baseball compared to the weather we’ve had lately.”