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Wildcats end season as regional runners-up; WHS finishes 27-4 overall

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Whiteoak senior Luken Roades is pictured pitching for the Wildcats in their regional final game Friday. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Stephen Forsha, The Highland County Press

LANCASTER — The Whiteoak Wildcats were unable to extend their tournament run on Friday, with the No. 2 state-ranked Wildcats having unusual miscues in the field. Taking advantage of each one was No. 1 top-ranked Berlin Hiland, as the Hawks swooped in and defeated Whiteoak, 8-0 to win the Division IV Regional Final game at Beavers Field in Lancaster.

Whiteoak (27-4) was held to one hit in the Elite 8 loss, as they were hitless through 3.1 innings, until Eli Roberts hit the ball over the leaping second baseman of Hiland in the top of the fourth inning. WHS left two runners stranded that inning, as the next two batters struck out looking to end the inning.  

The first three innings saw struggles from Whiteoak, as they struck out in their first three at-bats in the top of the first inning. The bottom of the first saw the Hawks score their first two runs, with Alec Weaver leading off with a triple and scoring on an infield error, which put Cody Yoder on first base. After two outs, Cody Yoder was at third base, and he scored on a single to right field by Isaak Yoder for a 2-0 lead.

WHS left two batters stranded in the top of the second, but that wasn’t the case for Berlin Hiland who had four hits in the bottom of the second – including a triple – leading to four runs and a 6-0 lead for the Hawks.

“They’re a great team,” Whiteoak head coach Chris Veidt said of Hiland. “I to this moment still feel like we’re a great team. We just gave them more than they gave us. We only had one hit, too.

“If [Hiland] had an earned run today, it was one, and I’ve never seen a team at this level as opportunistic — and I’ve seen them play quite a bit, not just when they’re playing us — as they are. They took advantage of every mistake we made, and the bottom line is we just made too many.”

The Wildcats had a leadoff walk forced by Solomon Combs, but he was left on the bases as WHS recorded three consecutive outs, including two strikeouts.

Berlin Hiland (28-1) answered with two final runs in the bottom of the third, building an 8-0 lead as both runs scored on an outfield error.

The Hawks ended the game with 11 hits.

Luken Roades was charged with the loss on the mound. He allowed eight runs (two earned) on 10 hits, facing 32 batters with four strikeouts.

“I can tell you, Luken Roades, I thought he was solid,” Veidt said. “I thought he pitched well. He deserves a better fate. Credit to [Hiland], they took advantage of our mistakes.

“As I told the kids, once the game starts, it’s nine on nine, and I’ll take our nine against anybody’s nine. Their nine today was better than our nine, bottom line.”

Kaden Moon-Stone pitched one inning of relief, where he allowed no runs on one hit and one strikeout.

The win went to Will Schlabach, who pitched five innings, allowing no runs on one hit with 12 strikeouts. Isaak Yoder pitched one inning of relief and had one strikeout.

Seniors for Whiteoak are: Landon Barnett, Luken Roades, Carson Emery, Nate Price, David Donohoo and Ian Griffith.

““I think four of them were All-Ohio kids, the other two were All-District kids, Luken and Landon are playing in the All-Ohio game,” Veidt said. “I can’t say enough good things about them physically, mentally, socially.

“I talked to my assistant coaches today before we left about just the maturation process, watching these kids grow for three years and how much better they were this year as opposed to last, and they were pretty darn good last year. They’re great kids, and that’s because it’s a great community, a great school system and they have great parents.”

This season, Whiteoak were the Division II Southern Hills Athletic Conference champions (12-1), Southeast District champions and regional runners-up. They also ended the season as the No. 2 state-ranked team for Division IV.

“At this point in time, it’s hard to reflect on that and focus on that. You’re one game away from the state tournament, and once you get there, anything can happen,” Veidt said. “We’re losing a great group of six seniors. What a group they’ve been for three years, and how much they’ve gotten better year in and year out, but what a year. You end up the year ranked number two in the state, win 27 games — 27 games — and 20 is a lot. I can say it now, district titles are not easy. They are not easy, let alone regional titles and going to the final four.

“These kids have nothing to hang their heads about. They have a lot to be proud of. It’s tough to be losing six of them, but we’re going to do our best to reload and do what we do at Whiteoak High School.”

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