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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, June 04, 2019 1:00 am

Bluffton's season over at regional

Whiting shuts door on rally in 7th

DAVID FUNK | For The Journal Gazette

WHITING – Things have changed at Bluffton.

When the senior baseball class were sophomores, the Tigers won just five games.

Just two years later, the Tigers were sectional champions and playing in a regional championship game.

The once-improbable run came to an end Monday night with Bluffton falling to Whiting 6-3 at Oil City Stadium in the Class 2A Whiting Regional.

“Everyone wanted to win. Once you have a whole culture that wants to win, wanting to go down to the last out, last pitch, it's just unreal,” senior Eli Inskeep said. “Coach (Stacy) Herrold has absolutely preached that culture.”

Inskeep hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning that gave the Tigers (15-7) hope.

“We could've rolled over there in the top half of the seventh, but we didn't,” Herrold said. “We got a guy on. We found a way to get a ball lifted out of the yard. We were in good shape.”

The Oilers clamped down, though. Pitcher Nick Semancik struck out Mason Heller and got Everett Johnson to ground out.

“I'm very thankful for the seven seniors we have. They have something that they can hang their hats on because it's been over a decade since we've been able to do the type of things we've done this year,” Herrold said. “It hurts. It hurts pretty bad.”

The Tigers won their first sectional title since 2009.

“We honestly shocked the world, I think,” Inskeep said. “No one thought we'd make it this far. No one thought we make it past South Adams (in the sectional final). We were here today playing in this beautiful stadium. It's unreal.”

Bluffton was in front early Monday when Gavin King scored on a Whiting throwing error in the first inning.

Whiting (15-11) quickly got that run back in the first, scored again in the third and tallied a pair in each of the fifth and sixth innings.

The Tigers had a run taken off the scoreboard in the sixth inning when Johnson was ruled to have interfered with Whiting shortstop Nino Barbosa on a slide at second base. King crossed the plate on the play but was sent back to third base.

“He thought that my guy slid in to obstruct the throw,” Herrold said. “I didn't see it from my vantage point. Unfortunately, that's what he saw. It was kind of a big blow.”

The Oilers capitalized on three Bluffton errors in the sixth inning to score two runs.

“You've got to tip your hat. That's a good club. (Whiting coach) Adam (Musielak's) got a good club. They fought tooth and nail,” Herrold said. “They were aggressive on the base paths and that got them some success early. That gave them the opportunity to make us feel the pressure.”