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Baseball Squares Off With Lakota East In Thursday’s OHSAA Sectional Finals

Posted on: May 18, 2016

SETTING THE SCENE: The Milford High School baseball team will be in search of its third district championship game appearance in the last four years when the top-seeded Eagles face No. 7 Lakota East on Thursday (May 19). First pitch from Harrison High School is scheduled for 5 p.m. The Eagles stretched their win streak to eight earlier this week with victories in a pair of make-up regular season games. The meeting between MHS and LEHS marks the first time the former Greater Miami Conference rivals have met on the diamond since both were members of the league back in 2007. Milford enters the fray at 25-2 overall, while East stands at 17-11.

A LOOK AT THE OPPONENT: A look at Milford’s next tournament opponent:

  • Thursday, May 19 vs. Lakota East (at Harrison HS), 5:00 p.m.
    • 2016 Record: 17-11, 11-7 GMC (5th Division I area coaches’ final weekly poll)
    • Top Hitter: Junior Jefferson Szydlowski (.432/9 XBH/30 RBI/5 SB)
    • Top Pitcher: Junior John Sherman (0.00 ERA/4-2 record)
    • Last Meeting: 2007; Milford 14, Lakota East 4 & Lakota East 5, Milford 0

A LOOK BACK: May 16 vs. Madeira: Four Milford pitchers combined to allow just two hits as the Eagles roughed up Madeira by an 11-1 score on May 16. In preparation for the OHSAA Sectional Finals, Nathan Kroger, Kyle Ruehlman, Kyle Music and Tyler Smith worked together to lock down the Mustangs in Milford’s 24th win of the year. Milford did nearly all of its offensive damage with a nine-run second inning that put the game away early on. Wes Reid had two doubles among his three hits, while driving in three. Ben Hunter also had a big day with a pair of hits, including a double, three runs scored and two RBI. Brad Hall and Nate Liles added two hits each as the Eagles banged out 15 on the day. Music was awarded the win after two hitless innings out of the bullpen. 

May 17 vs. Clinton-Massie: Milford and Clinton-Massie each scored five second inning runs, but two first inning markers and a single in the fourth were the difference in an 8-5 win on May 17. Keith Carter extended his team-leading season RBI count to 38 by driving in four and joined teammate Matt Kirk with two hits apiece. Kyle Minton was outstanding after coming on in the second inning, pitching 4.1 shutout innings, allowing just one hit and striking four. Evan Baugh pitched a perfect seventh inning for his first save.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: A look at Milford’s statistical leaders through 27 games:

Batting Average: Wes Reid (.489), Sam Dobrowolski (.463), Brad Hall (.420)

Slugging Percentage: Brad Hall (.670), Wes Reid (.667), Sam Dobrowolski (.627)

On Base Percentage: Sam Dobrowolski (.586), Wes Reid (.557), Keith Carter/Brad Hall (.470)

Runs Scored: Brad Hall/Wes Reid (35), Chase Witte (25)

Hits: Wes Reid (44), Brad Hall (37), Keith Carter (33)

RBI: Keith Carter (38), Brad Hall (32), Sam Dobrowolski (28)

Doubles: Keith Carter (14), Matt Kirk (12), Wes Reid (11)

Triples: Brad Hall (4), Four Tied (1)

Home Runs: Brad Hall (3), Sam Dobrowolski/Wes Reid (1)

Walks: Sam Dobrowolski (17), Ben Hunter (16), Chase Witte (15)

Stolen Bases: Brad Hall (16), Chase Witte (7), Evan Baugh/Wes Reid (6)

Wins: Kyle Ruehlman (7), Kyle Music (6), Nathan Kroger (3)

Saves: Tyler Smith (2), Five Tied (1)

ERA: Kyle Music (1.61), Kyle Ruehlman (1.72), Nathan Kroger (1.91)

Innings: Kyle Ruehlman (47.0), Nathan Kroger (28.1), Kyle Music (28.0)

Opponents Batting Average: Kyle Music (.156), Nathan Kroger (.180), Kyle Ruehlman (.188)

Strikeouts: Kyle Ruehlman (46), Kyle Music (30), Nathan Kroger (28)

INSIDE THE ECC: Loveland closed out its first-ever Eastern Cincinnati Conference baseball championship last week, but Milford can still earn a share of the crown with a win on Monday against Withrow in a game that has twice been rained out. Milford is in search of its fifth straight shared or outright conference title. 

The schedule for ECC teams still alive in the tournament includes: No. 1 Milford vs. No. 7 Lakota East (May 19, 5:00 p.m. at Harrison), No. 2 Loveland vs. No. 8 Mason (May 19, 5:00 p.m. at Lebanon), No. 12 Kings vs. No. 3 LaSalle (May 19, 5:00 p.m. at Elder Sports Complex).

POLL WATCH: For the first time since 2003, Milford has been crowned the No. 1 team in the city according to the final coaches’ poll, sponsored by the Cincinnati Enquirer and released on May 2. The Eagles were the top team on the ballot of 15 of the 19 voting coaches and received 33 more points than fellow ECC member and second place finisher Loveland (one vote). LaSalle and Fairfield also earned No. 1 nods and were joined in the top-five by Lakota East. Kings also represented the ECC in the others receiving votes category. The final coaches’ poll can be viewed at preps.cincinnati.com/coachespolls

The final Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association state poll was released on May 12 and the Eagles finished third in the state according to the rankings. The Eagles trailed only Jackson and Springboro in the OHSBCA poll. Other area teams in the top-20 include Moeller (9th), Loveland (10th) and Mason (11th).

CHAMPIONSHIP TALK: With its regular-season closing win against Withrow on May 9, the Eagles staked their claim to a share of the 2016 Eastern Cincinnati Conference Championship, joining Loveland as co-champions. The crown extends Milford’s streak of consecutive years winning a share of or outright conference championship to five and is the Eagles seventh conference title in the last nine years.

PSEUDO CHAMPS: The Eagles completed a rare accomplishment on May 6 with its 6-4 win at Elder. The victory gave Milford wins over all four member of the Greater Catholic League South Division. MHS opened the season with a 1-0 win over LaSalle on March 26, before knocking off Moeller (3-2) on April 23 and St. Xavier (4-2) on May 3.

A VICTORY TO REMEMBER: Veteran Milford head coach Tom Kilgore reached a coaching milestone on April 15 as he picked up his 300th victory as the Eagles’ skipper. The victory came in dramatic fashion as Milford overcame a four-run deficit in the top of the seventh inning against Walnut Hills, rallying for seven runs en route to an 8-5 victory. Kilgore, who has been Milford’s head coach since 1999, has led the Eagles to eight conference championships and two state runner-up finishes during his tenure. He has earned conference coach of the year accolades seven times during his career.

ONE CLOSE CALL: Senior pitcher Nathan Kroger went from a bases loaded, no-out jam to the dugout with just one pitch during the second inning of the April 23 win over Moeller, thanks to the help of his defense. Senior first baseman Brad Hall snagged a line drive off the bat of Moeller’s Tyler McDonough, stepped on first for the second out and then quickly fired across the diamond to third baseman Nate Liles to complete the triple play.

NO-HIT HEROES: The duo of sophomore Kyle Music and junior Tyler Smith combined to pitch a six inning no-hitter as the Eagles picked up an 11-0 win at New Richmond on April 14. Music hurled the first five hitless innings, allowing just one walk and striking out eight, while Smith pitched a hitless sixth to wrap up the feat. It marks the first no-hitter at Milford since Justin Arnold twirled a perfect game against Turpin last season.

COLLEGE BOUND EAGLES: A trio of senior members of the 2016 Eagles’ roster have announced their intention to continue their athletic and academic careers on the collegiate level. Lance Fleischman will attend Wilmington College, while Ben Hunter will head to Northwest Nazarene University and Kyle Ruehlman will attend Sinclair Community College.