By Brad Morris
After allowing a run in the first inning on Monday, Tate DeBord and his Circleville defense held visiting Athens to nothing but zeroes the rest of the way en route to a 9-1 Division II Southeast District sectional semifinal win.
DeBord checked Athens to five hits, walked a batter, hit two and struck out 11 in authoring his 96-pitch complete game, 64 of which were for strikes.
“What I love about Tate is he is always going to compete and give you everything that he has,” Circleville coach Brian Bigam said. “Since his start against Bloom-Carroll, if you can’t score on Tate early then it gets pretty difficult as the game goes along.
“The run he gave Athens wasn’t from hard hits, but Athens finding the right spots on the field. After that, except for a couple of free passes, he held them in check and gave us a chance to win.”
The Tigers gave their senior righty the lead for good with a two-run second.
Logan Smith triple to right and scored one out later when JD Reuter lined a single to center.
Drew Thornsley lined a single to center and Matt Bradley worked a walk to load the sacks full of Tigers.
Scott Moats then hit a sacrifice fly to center that allowed Reuter to dent the dish.
The Tigers added an insurance run in the third when Logan Smith reached on an error to center, advancing to second on a play, and scoring when Trent Smith lined a single to right.
Circleville plated two more runs in the fifth to extend its advantage to 5-1.
Back-to-back singles by DeBord and Nolan West and Logan Smith being hit by a pitch loaded the sacks full of Tigers once again.
Trent Smith followed with a sacrifice fly to center that knocked in pinch-runner Parker Kidwell.
Following a single to left off the bat of Reuter, Thornsley hit an 0-1 offering into left, knocking in West.
The Tigers added four more runs in the sixth, highlighted by back-to-back doubles from Austin Gray and DeBord to open the home at-bat, followed later by a two-run single to center courtesy of Logan Smith that drove in West and DeBord and a single to center off the bat of Thornsley to chase home Logan Smith.
The seven-and-eight-hole hitters combined for six of the Tigers’ 13 base knocks, led by Thornsley turning in a perfect 4-for-4 ledger with two RBI and Reuter going 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored.
“The bottom part of the order really carried us offensively and helped spark us at different times throughout the game,” Bigam said. “We haven’t been a great team when we get down in a game, but our guys responded after Athens scored an early run.
“Drew Thornsley had an amazing night and JD was also solid for us.”
DeBord was 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored and Logan Smith contributed a 2-for-3 evening with two RBI and three runs scored.
“There are two more guys, out of our three and five holes, that also stepped up and had nice nights,” Bigam said. “The top of the lineup isn’t going to be able to do it every night, so to get production from different parts of the lineup is a huge key, especially moving forward in the tournament.”
The Tigers (17-11) travel to Sheridan (19-3) on Wednesday for a sectional final.