TROY — Sidney’s players and coaches got flashbacks late in a Division I period finals Thursday at Market Street Field.
The story was similar to a district semifinals last season: taking an early lead against a strong Miami Valley League opponent, only to hold onto it later.
But unlike that District semifinal, Sidney made enough games in Thursday’s section finals to beat league rivals Troy 5-4 and advance.
The No. 8 Yellow Jackets (17-8) meets No. 5 Springboro (18-8) in a district semifinal at Centerville High School Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Sidney scored four runs early to take control and added another in the fifth to take a 5-2 lead.
But the Trojans scored twice in the sixth to close the gap to one and then had two runners on base with two outs by the end of the seventh.
It looked like Troy would equalize as Hayden Frey hit Sidney shortstop Aiden Booth with a hard ground ball.
Booth initially wobbled the ball after catching the hard hit as Troy’s Caleb Akins sped home from third. But Booth was able to recover and throw to first baseman Mitchell Davis just ahead of Frey to win the game.
“Honestly, when he bobbled it, I kind of gave it up,” said Sidney coach Derek Goffena. “I didn’t give him up, I just didn’t think it was going to happen. …I didn’t put my head down, just thought, “Oh man,” and thought about (coming out of the inning with a tie).
“But suddenly I looked up and saw him firing over there. What was that game. What a game just to recover from.”
The Yellow Jackets built a 2-0 lead against MVL rivals Vandalia-Butler in a district semifinals last year, but late mishaps and mistakes cost them a 3-2 loss.
Carson Taylor was on the mound late in that game and made a few mistakes that contributed to the loss.
Goffena said last year he had faith in Taylor and put him up late if he had to do it again, and he had no problem doing so on Thursday.
Taylor stayed cool on Thursday. He had a key strikeout from Troy No. 5 hitter Owen Harlamert in the sixth and knocked out a batter in the seventh.
“I just told the guys because about 90 percent of our guys were on that team last year that it was Carson on the mound that went up (into the bottom of the seventh),” Goffena said. “I just had deja vu again.
“… Luckily we caught a few breaks to get the win.”
Davis took the win on the hill. He started and pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up two earned runs on five hits and five walks while hitting six batters.
“He’s fine,” Goffena said. “He needs to control his pitches a little bit more so he doesn’t throw 90 (pitches) through four innings, but he’s a sophomore and just getting better. A lot of people forget he’s a sophomore because he played with us last year. He’s still learning a lot.
“He got big strikeouts in big times and just kept us in the game.”
Taylor, who earned a save, pitched 2 2/3 innings and gave up two earned runs with two hits and four walks while knocking out five batters.
“I trust Carson Taylor to close it. I walked out on the last inning and said, ‘I wouldn’t have anyone but you,'” Goffena said. “I told him that last year when we lost to Vandalia. I said I’d do the same thing over again and we’re in the exact same situation and I did the same thing over again just because I don’t trust anyone in the late innings more than Carson.”
The Yellow Jackets lost 3-0 to Troy on April 19 at Market Street Field and 6-1 at Sydney on April 22.
The matchup from April 22 was repeated on Thursday: Davis against Troys Trayce Mercer.
Davis only lasted 2 2/3 innings after giving up five walks and a hit in that April matchup. Mercer put up a full game, allowing four hits and four walks while hitting nine batters.
Sidney hit Mercer better on Monday. The squad finished with four hits in the five innings Mercer pitched and drew three walks. The Yellow Jackets also brought plenty of ball into play, benefiting from six errors by the number 4 seeded Trojans (23-5).
“Our bats fought; They’ve had a hard time being honest with you all year,” Goffena said. “…But we made contact early on and that was good. …They gave us a few runs there with some errors. In this kind of game against a great team like Troy, we’re going to get runs as best we can.”
Davis gave up two singles with two outs at the bottom of the first but knocked out Haralamert to get out of the inning.
Sidney took control at the head of the second.
Aiden Booth hit a home run to left field with an out, then Donavin Johnson hit a third-place grounder and hit a miss. AJ McClain then hit a sacrificial bunt and Davis drew a walk.
“Aiden started us there,” Goffena said. “That made our dugout nice and jacked it up a bit.
Aiden Ike hit a single on a pop fly to left field to hit Johnson and Davis and take the lead to 3-0, but Ike was kicked out in second to end the inning.
The Yellow Jackets added another run in the third. EJ Davis drew a walk with an out. He stole second with two outs.
Jack Davidson hit a ground ball straight to Troy shortstop Ryder Kirtley, but the ball went into right field under Kirtley’s glove. Left fielder Eli Donnan failed to get the ball in goal in time and EJ Davis scored to increase the lead to 4-0.
Troy sliced into the gap in the fourth. Connor Hutchinson was hit by a pitch with an out, then Trayce Mercer hit a single to the left.
Mitchell Davis walked the next three batters, going two runs for the Trojans.
Eli Smith, who had two hits on his previous two At Bats, then came on the record. He increased the count to 2-2 after a monster foul through left field that would have been at least 10 yards over the fence in fairness, but Davis hit him in the next court to end the inning and Sidney to 4-2 to keep in the lead.
The Yellow Jackets got a runback in the fifth.
EJ Davis hit a grounder to second base and reached through a mistake by Troy’s Caleb Akins. He stole the second and third with Taylor at the plate. Taylor lashed out but Davidson hit a brace that hit the left fence and slotted in Davis to take the lead 5-2.
Mitchell Davis gave up a walk and a single at the bottom of the fifth, but Taylor was brought in to pitch and knocked out the next two batters to end the inning.
On the sixth, the Trojans scored two runs.
Nick Kawecki hit a single to right field to start the inning, then Taylor went with the next two batters. Kawecki scored a pass ball and another run scored a goal on the floor to narrow the gap to 5-4.
Taylor walked another batter, and the two runners eventually advanced to second and third. But Taylor knocked out the next two batters to get out of the inning.
Taylor knocked out the first batter of the seventh and then passed a batter. He coaxed a ground out for the second out, but Kirtley hit a hard groundball from Booth, which made a hard throw that Mitchell Davis had to come from first base to catch.
With the runners in third and first place, Frey hit the hard grounder to Booth, who he recovered and threw to Davis for the finals.
EJ Davis ended the game with three stolen bases while Johnson had one.
“When these two guys get on the base, they wreak havoc,” Goffena said. “Even if we’re playing against a team with great defense, they don’t want these guys coming on base because they’re wreaking havoc.”
Sidney had four hits and penalized no errors. Troy had seven hits and ended with six penalties.
Sidney’s Aiden Booth waits for the ball at second base during a Division I section final Thursday at Market Street Field. Booth, who hit a solo home run in the second, loafed a hit with two outs late in the seventh but recovered and made a throw for the first for the win.
Sidney’s Mitchell Davis throws a pitch during a Division I section final in Troy on Thursday. Davis pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up two earned runs on five hits and five walks while hitting six batters.
Sidney’s Ryder Kirtley leaps home for the pitch as Troy’s Ryder Kirtley arrives at base in Troy on Thursday.
Sidney’s Gavin Roberts chases a hit down left field in Troy on Thursday.
Sidney’s EJ Davis is second while Troy’s Ryder Kirtley awaits the throw against Troy on Thursday.
Sidney’s Donavin Johnson slips to second ahead of Troy’s Ryder Kirtley during a Division I section final Thursday at Market Street Field. Johnson was 1 for 2 with a walk and scored a run.
Sidney’s Carson Taylor tries to tag Troy’s Nick Kawecki at home during a Division I section finals Thursday at Market Street Field. Taylor eased up 2 2/3 innings and gave up two earned runs on two hits and four walks while knocking out five batters.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818 or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.