Ertel, timely hitting powers Ross past Hamilton

HAMILTON — Nolan Ertel got the offensive support he needed to have the confidence he wanted on the mound.

The Ross High School junior right-hander only gave up one run on three hits, striking out seven in 5 1/3 innings of work, and senior Ian Busch delivered a timely two-out three-RBI triple in the second to jumpstart the Rams on their way to a 7-1 victory over the Hamilton Big Blue on Saturday night under the lights at Stang Field.

“That’s the way we play baseball,” Ross coach Brad Voegele said. “We pride ourselves on doing the little things. There were still some mistakes that we made. We made some baserunning mistakes. We missed signs. We do stuff like that. We’re far from a finished product, but when we play like that, we’re fun.

“It’s fun to be around these kids. They do things the right way. They work their butts off. The seniors are really taking the leadership role. It’s been fun.”

Ross (4-0) has won two of the last three meetings against Hamilton (2-5), which knocked the Rams out in a Division I tournament opener 1-0 last season. The Big Blue have lost four in a row.

“We’re trying to piece it together — learning baseball,” Hamilton coach Josh Sams said. “We make too many mistakes that we’re not good enough to make at the end of the day. It’s either a walk or an error, or it’s a plus count swinging at a bad pitch. There’s a lot of things that play into it.

“All I think is that we have to keep getting better every day. They’re working hard at it. I just think we’re trying to fix a lot in a short amount of time. It’s going to take a little bit.”

All of Ertel’s pitches were working, and the Big Blue struggled to put hitters on base. Cournell Bennett-McCoy’s third inning double to the fence that scored Clint Moak was the only offensive threat for Hamilton.

Ross senior Austin Parker singled to lead off the game. Then Ben Voegele tripled to knock him in to give the Rams a 1-0 lead.

“Coming out strong — going through and getting that one run,” Ertel said. “I definitely had confidence in my defense, so I know I can let a ball slip here and there. Focused on mechanics, got it good. Strikeouts, good. One, two, three batters.”

Before Hamilton notched its lone run in the bottom of the third, Ross broke things open in the top half of the second. Busch laced his two-out, three-RBI triple off Big Blue junior starting pitcher Kaleb Powers.

“That was big. Three runs right there,” Brad Voegele said. “That’s a senior doing the stuff that we need to do to win baseball games in a big game like this — under the lights, against Hamilton. This is his last chance to do this.

“How many two-out hits did we have? We had a ton of two-out hits, and that’s the way we play baseball.”

Ross rallied for three more runs — all scored with two outs — in the top of the sixth to cushion its lead, and Kerry Snyder closed it out on the mound.

“That’s something we harped on,” Brad Voegele said. “When you have lulls, or you don’t score runs. We had a couple innings where we didn’t score any runs, but we weren’t defeated. We continued to have good energy in the dugout, good energy when we’re in the field. That’s one thing we really harped on. We’ve been really harping on being great teammates throughout. We don’t have dead periods when you don’t score a run. You’re still doing other great things.”

Hamilton, on the other hand, couldn’t muster up enough energy to put together a comeback. Remnants of Big Blue’s 11-1 loss to Mason from the night before lingered.

“We went out to Mason, got up early, and the wheels fell off,” Sams said. “Actually, I thought we had better life today. It was better today, but it’s that mentality of, ‘Here we go again.’ I think that’s going to be the curve for us. It’s going to be how to break that.”

Other offensive contributors for the Rams included Nathan Jester, Brady McFarland, Colby Adams and Austin Parker, who all added hits.

Voegele said Ertel looked primed to go the distance, but the Ross coaching staff agreed to send in Snyder to close the door.

“He didn’t want to come out,” Voegele said. “He’s a bulldog. He competes like crazy. He did what he needed to do. … That was two competitors. We’ve got a bunch of them, but those two really competed today.”

Nick Brosius had two hits for Hamilton, while Bennett-McCoy and Moak had the other two. The Big Blue, who walked eight total batters, went to the bullpen three times after Powers tossed two innings and surrendered four runs on three hits.

“Probably nobody is, but we’re definitely not good enough to put guys on free bases,” Sams said. “Our losses that we’ve had, we eventually put more and more people on base that need to be. That’s just what it is, and that’s what we can’t get through.”

Hamilton looks to bounce back against Mason at 3 p.m. at Stang Field today (Sunday), while Ross travels to Edgewood at 5 p.m. Wednesday to begin Southwestern Buckeye League play.

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