ARCANUM — Rodney Rachel kept it simple and to the point Thursday.
“Don’t make it harder than what it has to be,” the Badin High School senior said. “You’re trying to get me out, and I’m trying not to get out.”
He never got out.
Rachel went 3 for 3 with six RBIs — including a three-run homer that broke things open in the bottom of the fourth — and Nik Copenhaver pitched a complete-game shutout with seven strikeouts to lead top-ranked Badin to a 10-0 run-rule victory over Kenton Ridge in a Division II district final at Arcanum.
“It’s all smiles,” said Rachel, who is 6 for 8 with 10 RBI’s in Badin’s three tournament victories. “Coming in here, we don’t worry about anything else but having fun and playing baseball.”
The Rams (28-1) move on to face Hebron Lakewood in a regional semifinal on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Mason. Badin is 9-0 in May and has outscored its three postseason opponents 45-0.
“On a windy day like today, anything can happen,” Rams coach Brion Treadway said. “I think Nik did a tremendous job of shutting it down when we needed it. After that, it was over.”
Kenton Ridge’s Brayden Grimm led the game off with a single and Keller Fultz reached on a bunt attempt that turned into a Badin error. But Copenhaver fanned the next three batters to get the Rams out of the inning.
“It took me a little bit to get the swag back,” said Copenhaver, who hadn’t seen the mound since Badin’s 10-2 win over Princeton on May 6 when he threw an inning.
“With the wind blowing in my face, it was interesting. I had to get through a lot, and I think I did a decent job of holding them to a goose egg.”
Copenhaver said he fed off his team’s performance at the plate all game. He sits at 5-0 and has a .462 ERA.
“I’m just really fired up where our offense is right now,” said Copenhaver, a Washington State University commit. “It was a joy to watch. I had way more energy on the mound because of it.”
Freshman Chandler Taylor doubled and scored on a Rachel double to give Badin a 1-0 in the bottom of the first. The Rams went on to score in every inning, including a four-run fourth highlighted by Rachel’s opposite-field homer that hung up in the wind.
“I did not think that thing was going,” Treadway said. “But I’ve seen Rodney enough in BP where he hits balls that I don’t think he got. Next thing you know, it’s hitting our scoreboard. The kid has unreal pop. He’s just a tremendous player.”
Taylor went 3 for 3 with three runs scored for Badin, which got a triple and two runs from Chase Luebbe.
“All we want to do is just get back to practice and keep improving — keep working on the fundamentals every day. That’s all we really do,” said Copenhaver, a senior. “We just worry about getting better each day. We will get to our next opponent when we get there.”
THE MENTAL GAME
Treadway put a lot of emphasis on how his program has focused on the mental aspects of baseball. He said it showed early on Thursday.
“We’ve spent a lot of time on the mental side,” the coach said. “Adversity is our advantage. We don’t shy away from adversity. We want that energy, and we want to respond in the right way.
“Our guys have been taught from day 1 of practice and day 1 of tryouts that the mindset has to be something we truly focus on. We’ve spent as much time on the mental side of the game than we when do on bunt coverages and first and thirds. So it’s good to see that pay off so far this year.”
Badin last faced Kenton Ridge in a 9-0 Division II district final loss in 2007. The Cougars ended up losing to Canfield 8-6 in the state final that year.