CHILLICOTHE - The Vinton County Vikings ended the 2018 season Thursday afternoon with an 8-3 loss to the Unioto Shermans in the championship game of the Division II sectional tournament.
Although the Vikings went 8-17 overall, they finished on a strong note by winning six of their last eight games including an 8-5 win over Warren in the semifinals.
Vinton County head coach Mike Barrell extends credit to all of his players, but especially the seniors for their effort. It was the final game for seniors Ash Abele, Tristen Bartoe, Jake Harper, Ryan Grisgby, and Noah Waddell.
"We started out with a 2-14 mark and could have easily given up," said Barrell. "Our kids really picked it up down the stretch.
The Shermans jumped on top early. A three-run effort started when Ryan Burns drew a walk and Harley Patterson and Nick Ooten drew walks. Burns came around to score on an error and Patterson scored on a fielder's choice. Ooten scored when Ryan Sigler singled him home.
Vinton County starter Abele rebounded and held the Shermans at bay.
The Shermans went on to expand their lead when J.D. Blevins reached on an error and scored on a double by Patterson. He came in to score on Cameron DeBord's fielder's choice for a 5-0 advantage.
The Vikings got their offense fired up in the third inning with a two-run rally of their own. Jacob Wells led off the inning with a walk and came around to score when Abele stroked a ball deep in the right-field corner for a triple. Abele came in to score on a wild pitch. Ryan Grigsby also drew a walk in an attempt to extend the inning but Unioto starter and winner Patterson struck out two of the next three batters to end the inning.
The Shermans answered the rally with three runs of their own in the third inning, starting when Longcoy singled, Burns walked, and Blevins was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Both Longcoy and Burns scored on errors before Abele was lifted in favor of Zach Bartoe who gave up the final run when DeBord singled home, Blevins.
The run was charged to Abele and Bartoe went on to finish the game.
From then on, the Vikings played much better all around. Bartoe did not allow another run and he struck out two batters and forced several groundball outs.
Coach Barrell appreciated the effort.
"Zach really came in and pitched well and kept us in the game," he said. "He is going to be a very good pitcher in the future for us."
The Vikings also had some defensive gems as Bailey Bartoe stood in on a hard slide to second to record an out and Harper threw out a runner at second.
The Vikings made the game interesting in their final at-bat with a bases-loaded rally. Harper reached on an error, Waddell lined hard out to second and Wells was hit by a pitch. Abele reached via an error and Harper scored on the booted groundball.
However, the rally stalled and Unioto went on the win the sectional title.
Offensively, the Shermans outhit the Vikings 8-1.
Abele's triple was the only hit the Vikings had and the Shermans did not have any multiple hitters in the contest.
On the mound, Patterson got the win, as he allowed one hit along with two runs over four innings and struck out nine Vinton County batters.
Bartoe was charged with the loss. He went 2.1 innings, allowing eight runs on four hits and fanned three batters.
Barrell said this was the turnaround season for the Vikings, eight wins being the most they've had in a long time.