Minford takes outright SOC II Championship with 13-0 win
Lauder fires perfect game as Falcons clinch first outright title in 50 years
Aaron Hopper’s Minford Falcons delivered the school’s first outright SOC baseball championship in 50 years, as Ethan Lauder led his team by firing a perfect game against the visiting South Webster Jeeps, by a 13-0 count. Lauder and the entire team’s effort was absolutely outstanding, as the pitcher struck out seven South Webster hitters along the way to the five-inning perfecto, along with six flyouts. Lauder was rarely behind in the count all day, relying on a stingy Falcon defense to help get the conference-clinching win nailed down.
Minford would get all of the runs they would need in the opening frame, scoring four times on the strength of four hits. Leadoff hitter Brayden Davis opened the game with a single, stealing second. Speedy sophomore Darius Jordan laid down a perfect bunt, with Jordan reaching first and Davis ending up on third. After Jordan swiped second to place two Falcons in scoring position, junior backstop Luke Lindamood rifled a single to left that plated both runners, as the Falcons took a 2-0 lead. With both runners churning for home, Lindamood was tossed at second on a sharp throw from left-fielder Dallas Copas. Lauder then helped his own cause with Minford’s third single of the stanza, motoring on to third via a passed ball and a wild pitch. Shortstop Nathan McCormick worked Jeep pitcher Aidan Andrews for a two-out, full count walk before Payton Davis slapped a single that brought Lauder in. With McCormick heading for third, a wild South Webster throw allowed the fourth run of the frame to score.
Andrews put Minford down in order in the second inning, with the Falcons sending ten batters to the plate in the home half of the third. Both Lindamood and Lauder drew free passes to start, with third baseman Reid Schultz bunting for a single that put Falcons on all three bases with no outs. The third Jeep base on balls, to McCormick, forced Lindamood home, as Payton Davis followed with a 2 RBI single. In front 7-0, Minford kept the pressure on, as a Bailey Rowe base hit scored McCormick, with Davis getting to the corner. A pair of Minford pop up outs proceeded Jordan’s single that brought Rowe across the plate for the Falcon’s tenth score of the game.
The top of the fourth saw Lauder fan the leadoff hitter before inducing a pair of fly outs to center. Leading off the bottom of the inning, Lauder was hit by a pitch
As Lauder continued to roll on the mound, the junior also was able to get yet another scoring rally going by wearing a pitch inside to get on base. Then, after a hard-hit single by Max Suter, McCormick followed with his two RBI single to score both runners and increase the margin to a 12-0 lead. Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis’ 6-4 groundout RBI allowed the Falcons to manufacture one final run across the plate.
“One of my goals tonight was to get everybody in the ballgame,” Hopper said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get everybody in the ballgame in the way I would have liked to, but guys like Max and Matthew, along with the remaining members of our team that don’t see a lot of playing time, are just as much a part of our success and this journey as everybody else. It’s not just the nine guys that start for us. It’s truly every single player on this team.”
With the victory, Minford finished the regular season with an outstanding 18-1 mark, including a 13-1 record in the SOC II realm. In addition to winning the SOC II title outright for the first time since 1968 and obtaining the No. 1 seed in the Division III, Southeast I Bracket last week, the Falcons also held Wheelersburg without even a share of the SOC II title for the first time since 2004 — a wild stat that could mean the shifting of the overall balance of power in the league.
“Undisputed,” Lauder said. “First time in a long time. It’s special. We’ve got to keep it rolling, take it into the tournament, and work hard. We’re not going to settle. We’re going to keep it going.”