ELIDA – Wayne Trace was just four outs away from a season ending loss to Division III top-ranked Eastwood Thursday afternoon at Ed Sandy Field in Elida as Eagles pitcher Ethan Rapp kept the Raider offense in check. However, the red, white and blue had other ideas in posting three runs with two outs and then holding on for a 3-2 victory over the Eagles to advance to district championship play Saturday.

While the Raider offense was held in check in the first five innings, Eastwood put together enough offense to score in both the third and fifth innings.

In the third, Rapp led off with a double to right field before Falls laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Rapp to third. After Woodward struck out, Boos doubled down the third base line to plate Rapp for a 1-0 Eagles advantage.

Eastwood added to the lead in the fifth, taking advantage of a Raider error. With one out, Falls reached on an error before Woodward singled to put two runners on. Boos followed with a run-scoring single that scored Falls for a 2-0 Eastwood lead. After Andrew Badenhop walked with two outs to load the bases, Jordan Pickerel flew out to center field to end the Eagles threat.

Rapp retired 17 of the first 19 Wayne Trace hitters in the contest, keeping the Raiders from putting together any formidable offensive threat. That would change in the sixth with two outs as Breven Anderson kept the Wayne Trace chances alive by drawing a full-count walk.

“Breven just does so much for us in all facets of the game,” commented Raider head coach Ryne Jerome. “Offensively, defensively and on the mound, he contributes in so many ways for us.”

Anderson then stole second to set up junior shortstop Cale Winans at the plate with an opportunity to get the Raiders on the scoreboard. Winans did just that, ripping a single that brought home Anderson in pulling Wayne Trace within 2-1.

“I felt like we needed to try and put a little pressure on them defensively,” noted Jerome. “Cale was at the plate, and I was confident he would put the ball in play, so we wanted to try and create something.”

Cooper Wenzlick singled to center field to move Winans to second, but the inning was not over.

Eastwood mentor Kevin Leady called time to settle down his defense and Jerome took advantage, also taking the opportunity to speak with senior first baseman Kyle Slade who was due up next.

“I just wanted him to settle down and do what he had done all year for us,” added the Raider head coach. “We have talked all season about taking advantage of opportunities and Kyle did just that for us.”

Slade ripped a two-out, two-run single to center field that plated both Winans and Wenzlick in putting Wayne Trace on top 3-2 over the highly touted Eagles.

“All year, we have had different players step up at different times and today was no different,” Jerome continued.”

Eastwood wasn’t done though, as the Eagles’ Jackson Bauer reached on a Wayne Trace error to open the bottom of the sixth and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kadyn Donnell. The defensive play of the game then came from Raider junior catcher Tucker Antoine, who proceeded to pick off Bauer at second base with a perfect throw to Winans for the second out of the inning.

“Tucker has really improved in that area,” commented Jerome. “He has always been one to be aggressive and try to make that play but he has also learned a done a better job of knowing when that opportunity is there.”

From there, Wenzlick took over on the mound for the Raiders. The junior hurler recorded the third out of the sixth when Rapp grounded out to send the game to the seventh with Wayne Trace on top 3-2. Wayne Trace went down in order in the top of the inning to set up the final Eastwood opportunity of the season.

Wenzlick struck out junior designated hitter Brandon Falls to start the seventh before sophomore Colton Woodward grounded out for the second out. That brought up leadoff hitter and senior shortstop Case Boos, who had already recorded a single and double while driving in two Eastwood runs. Wenzlick, though, was not to be denied as the Raider hurler closed out the victory when Boos flew out to Tyler Davis in center field to end the contest.

“We found a way today,” Jerome said. “Eastwood is a very, very good baseball team and our kids just kept battling all day long. I am so proud of this baseball team.”

Wenzlick picked up the complete-game win for Wayne Trace, allowing five hits, two runs (one earned) and one walk while striking out four. The junior hurler also recorded his ninth victory of the season on the day, tying the school record for victories in a season that was set in 1986 by Rob Davis. The junior also paced Wayne Trace at the plate with two singles while scoring once. Slade added a single and two runs batted in with Winans driving in one, scoring once and singling once. Kyle Forrer chipped in a single as well for the Raiders and Anderson scored a run.

Boos singled and doubled while driving in two runs with Jordan Pickerel and Woodward both singled. Rapp doubled and scored for Eastwood and Falls touched home plate once for the Eagles, who close their season with a record of 26-2 overall.

Rapp suffered the loss for Eastwood, pitching six innings surrendering four hits, three earned runs and two walks with five strikeouts. Badenhop tossed one inning in relief for the Eagles.

Wayne Trace, which improves to 21-5 on the season, moves on to take on Coldwater (24-4) at noon with a berth in the Division III regional at stake.