Waterford baseball moves on to the district final after 3-1 victory

JORDAN HOLLAND, The Marietta Times Green's Tayte Carver (18) slides in safely at second base as Waterford's Zane Heiss receives a throw during a high school baseball Division IV district semifinal Tuesday at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe.

CHILLICOTHE — Noah Huffman’s complete-game pitching effort and a clutch hit by Zane Heiss helped Waterford defeat Green 3-1 in a Division IV district semifinal game Tuesday at VA Memorial Stadium.

Huffman walked three and struck out four in the win, surrendering just three hits and one unearned run.

“I was just hitting my spots,” the senior right-hander said. “I throw a two-seam (fastball) whenever I’m throwing inside to batters. It tails in so they usually miss on it.”

All four of the game’s runs were scored in the fourth inning, as Huffman and Green starter Tanner Kimbler traded zeros the first three frames.

Kimbler, in the loss, struck out five and issued no walks in six innings of work. His only blemish was in that fourth inning when the Wildcats put up a three-spot.

Bryce Hilverding led off with a single to left field and advanced to second when Braden Bellville’s roller to the second baseman was misplayed. After Brock Hayes’ lined out to shortstop, Andrew Harra-Baker singled to right. But when Hilverding was held up at third, Bellville and Harra-Baker had to retreat back to second and first, respectively, and Harra-Baker was thrown out at first.

The next batter, Heiss, made sure the base-running blunder didn’t come back to haunt. With two outs and two runners in scoring position, Heiss cashed in for the Wildcats by poking a two-run triple past a diving Levi Singleton in center field and scoring on an errant cutoff throw to make it 3-1.

Now pitching with a lead, Huffman allowed just one hit the remainder of the game.

“That was huge,” Huffman said of his team giving him a two-run cushion. “To have your team out there hitting the ball just warms your heart as a pitcher. When you’re going out there as a pitcher, knowing you have the lead, it helps you mentally and physically.”

Green took a brief lead, scratching across a run in the top of the fourth with the help of two Waterford errors. With runners on second and third and one out, Mason Barber’s grounder to third base was booted, allowing Tayte Carver to cross the plate.

Waterford avoided further damage when Hayden Whittis hit a bouncer back to Huffman, who started a 1-6-3, inning-ending double-play.

Green’s only other real threat came in its final at-bat. The Bobcats loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh thanks to two walks and a hit-batter, but Huffman got Kimbler to ground out to first baseman Russell Young, who stepped on the bag to end the game.

The Wildcats, now 15-10, will look to win their third straight district championship today against either Belpre, fellow Washington Countians, or Whiteoak, the top-ranked team in all of Division IV. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. back at VA Memorial Stadium.

“We’ve just got to come ready to play,” Huffman said.