By Garth Shanklin
The Bethel-Tate Tigers baseball team took two dramatically different paths to victory en route to a district title last week.
The first path came in the team’s sectional tournament championship win over Cincinnati Country Day on Wednesday, May 16.
Thanks to a dominating start from senior Dylan Whisman and excellent defense behind him, the Tigers won their first sectional title since 2010 with a 6-0 shutout victory.
The game was scoreless through three innings until the Tigers broke through in the fourth. With runners on the corners and one away, Dallas Kaylor dropped down a bunt that scored Whisman from third. Kaylor was called safe at first base, but he would be left stranded there.
Bethel-Tate kept that 1-0 lead until the top of the fifth. The first two batters of the inning reached on a walk and a hit batter. Whisman drove in a run with an RBI single, followed by a sacrifice fly off the bat of John Day to put the Tigers on top 3-0.
Tony Cecil led off the Tiger seventh with a lengthy at-bat, fouling off several pitches before drawing a walk. He then stole second and moved to third on a passed ball.
After Whisman drew a walk, he and Cecil both scored on a double to deep center field by Day, giving the Tigers a 5-0 lead.
Kaylor finished the scoring with a double down the right-field line to make it 6-0 Tigers.
“They all played with heart today,” Bethel-Tate head coach Dion Pangallo said. “That’s what they’re known for, playing with heart.”
Whisman finished the game with a shutout, striking out nine batters in the process.
“He’s consistent and he knows his zone,” Pangallo said. “He’s a very consistent senior leader pitcher, and he’ll be a phenom at the next level, also. He’s a good kid.”
Bethel-Tate’s defense played a large role in Whisman’s success, making several running plays to prevent baserunners. Bethel-Tate’s outfield also made a diving catch in the first inning with two runners on base to keep the game scoreless.
“The defense was A++,” Pangallo said. “They were exceptional today.”
The Tigers did a nice job offensively against Cincinnati Country Day’s T.J. Brock, chasing the Ohio State commit from the game in the top of the seventh.
“We had great details on him before the game,” Pangallo said. “We discussed him in great detail and the boys did exactly what we told them to do.”
The Tigers returned to the field on Sunday, May 20 for the district final against Dayton Christian at Wright State, where they found a different way to win the game.
Whisman again got the call on the mound and was solid through five innings, allowing just two runs. Bethel-Tate trailed 2-0 entering the bottom of the fourth, where they scored the team’s first run on a walk to Whisman and a double by Day. The Tigers tied the game on a bases-loaded groundout by Whisman in the bottom of the fifth, only to see Dayton Christian score three runs in the next two innings to lead 5-2 entering the bottom of the seventh.
Bethel-Tate went to work. Griffin Reinert led the inning off with a single into left field. Whisman walked, and Day singled to load the bases for Gabe Kilgore. Kilgore doubled into right field, clearing the bases to tie the game at five.
After an intentional walk to Kaylor, the Tigers popped out and grounded out, bringing up Tyler Baker. Another intetnional walk loaded the bases for Tyler Burke, who singled in Kilgore to end the game.
Bethel-Tate faces a familiar foe in the regional semifinals. The Tigers will take on conference foe Blanchester at Xenia’s Athletes in Action facility on Thursday, May 24 at 2:30 p.m.