Awesome! Here’s what I’ve got for you:  Third district title in four years. And you didn’t get a chance to win one in 2020. How cool is it to be a part of that and how proud are you of this team?  Portsmouth was a formidable opponent. But you guys fought tooth and nail. When the game was tied, what was the mindset in the dugout?  Now onto the Sweet 16. What do you feel like you have to do to get back into the Elite 8? What can you work on to get better?
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Brock Netter

Brock is SOSA's primary writer and has worked for the Coshocton Tribune, the Kankakee Daily Journal (Ill.), the Vinton-Jackson Courier and the Jackson Telegram. He's a six-time award-winning journalist, a lifelong WWE fan, a suffering Bengals fan and calls the sidelines his home.

Eastern Brown shocks Minford, wins first district championship since 2008

The Warriors are Sweet 16 bound.

Brock Netter, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

ATHENS — The last time that Eastern Brown won a district championship, the program’s current roster wasn’t even enrolled in preschool.

Eastern’s Pryce Murphy throws a pitch during the Warriors’ win over Thursday.
CREDIT: Brock Netter/SOSA

15 years later, the Warriors are bringing a district crown back to Sardinia. 

Behind a gritty performance from Pryce Murphy and timely outs from the team’s defense, the Warriors (15-9) upended Minford by a 4-1 tally to claim their first district title since 2008. 

The win also snapped Minford’s streak of four consecutive district championships.

“It comes down to great pitching and great defense,” Eastern Brown coach Steve Goetz said. “As all of these games throughout this tournament run have been, it was a close game. A couple of timely hits, some great pitching and some great defense. We’ve got two guys on the mound, with Wyatt [Haupt] and Pryce, we feel like when they’re on the mound, we’ve got a chance to win any time they’re there.”

Eastern Brown wasted no time seizing early momentum as Brandon Bailey laced an RBI single to right-center field, making it 1-0. 

Two innings later, Eastern continued to apply the pressure on the Falcons’ defense.

After back-to-back singles from Caleb Jimison and Carter Vaughn, Minford committed a throwing error off a bunt that allowed both Warriors to score. Then Wyatt Haupt roped an RBI single to center field, extending the lead to 4-0. 

Minford had a golden chance to gain momentum in the bottom of the third as it managed to load the bases with one out. However, Murphy got a strikeout and induced a groundout to end the threat. 

The baseball Gods gave Minford a second chance when the Falcons loaded the bases again in the fourth with two outs. Yet, again, Murphy reared back and fired a strikeout to end the inning. 

For a third time, Minford loaded the bases again in the bottom of the fifth. And once again, Murphy and the Warriors escaped the jam with a groundout to end the scoring chance.

Finally, in the bottom of the sixth, Minford managed to drive a run across the dish thanks to a fielding error. The Falcons then managed to load the bases for a fourth time, but — and you’ve read about this situation before — they couldn’t take advantage as a fly out nixed the rally.

“Four times with the bases loaded, to get out with just one run, that’s finding the right grit at the right time,” Goetz said. “When we came back after the regular season and started preparing for the tournament, we really just started talking about how every day could be the last day. We made it about us instead of you or I. When you’re in these types of games, it’s mentally fatiguing. But we took it pitch by pitch. We didn’t want it snowball into a big inning. We did a fantastic job of limiting the damage.”

Though the Falcons applied pressure in the seventh, it simply wasn’t enough as the Warriors nailed down the final three outs and proceeded to punch their tickets to the Sweet 16. 

Eastern Brown now advances to a Division III regional semifinal at 5 p.m., June 1 at Ohio Dominican University against Cadiz Harrison Central. 

“First of all, it’s fantastic [to be in the Sweet 16],” Goetz said. “This hasn’t happened since 2008. So what we do is keep doing what we’ve been doing. We’re not going to go out and scored 15 runs. We’re going to go out, compete on the mound and in the field and string together hits. We’ve got a few days off to get some pitching reset. We’ll come to compete and battle and see what we can do.”


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