The underdogs needed another big performance to make a surprising return to the 9th Region baseball title game.
But the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds (15-20) could not put together another solid performance against the Ryle Raiders (21-16) in the semifinals Tuesday at University of Cincinnati Medical Center Stadium. The Raiders exposed some weaknesses to pull away for an 8-2 victory.
"I told the guys they put us back on the map," said Jeff Schulkens, NewCath Head Coach. "I'm proud of you. (The six seniors) are alumni now and I hope they want to come back and stay involved in the program."
Mainly, Ryle had better pitching depth and ran well on the bases. The Raiders scored three runs in the second inning to take the lead for good.
Right fielder Jarrod Billig did most of the damage for the Raiders. He went 3-for-3 at the plate to go with a walk, two runs batted in, a run scored and three stolen bases.
One other Ryle had two hits in first baseman Colin Craven. He scored twice.
Ryle recorded eight hits total and stole eight bases. The Raiders also took advantage of four NewCath wild pitches and a passed ball.
"We did our homework and felt we could run a little bit," said Pat Roesel, Ryle Head Coach. "So we did. Until they stopped us, we were going to continue to do so."
Offensively, NewCath had eight base runners on three hits. The Thoroughbreds also had no stolen bases, three walks and six strikeouts against Ryle pitcher Zach Kirschler.
"He was money," Roesel said. "He wanted the ball the whole way. There was no way I could take him out. He threw strikes. He got ahead of guys."
NewCath did have the lead twice in the first two innings. Zack Pangallo tripled with one out in the first before scoring on a Spencer Pangallo ground out. After Ryle tied the game at 1-1 in the second, the Thoroughbreds took a 2-1 lead in the second. Josh Schneider singled, moved to second when Griff McHugh grounded out before advancing to third on a Ryle throwing error and scoring when Bryson Hightchew singled.
But the Raiders tied the game at 2-2 in the second when Marshall Rich singled home Billig. Max Lonnemann then singled in Rich and Drew Jackson to give the Raiders the lead for good at 4-2.
"I think we were so emotional starting off playing five good innings (in the 11-1 run-ruling of Dixie Heights on Monday)," Schulkens said. "When they took the lead, it really hit us hard. I don't think we ever recovered from that."
Ryle added three runs in the fourth to go up 7-2. Nathan Roe scored on an error and Craven scored on a wild pitch before Billig singled home Jake Ziegelmeyer.
The Raiders added one insurance run in the sixth inning. Craven reached on an error, stole second and scored when Billig singled.
Owen Workman started the game for NewCath. He pitched into the second before Clint Bartels took over and finished the game. The two combined for six strikeouts.
NewCath graduates Grant Moeves, Zack Pangallo, Bartels, Nate Enslen, Brandon Gray and Leo Barth. During high school, the senior class appeared in the region tournament three times winning it in 2012 and advancing to the state quarterfinals. The Thoroughbreds also won the All "A" State Tournament in 2013.