CINCINNATI – The La Salle baseball team is going to Columbus.
The Lancers defeated Milford 7-1 in a Division I regional semifinal Friday night at the University of Cincinnati’s Marge Schott Stadium to advance to the state tournament for the first time since 1995.
Gloves were thrown into the air after senior second baseman Tim Casey caught a pop-up to end the game. La Salle (24-7) had 12 hits and scored five runs with two outs in the sixth en route to the win.
“They (Milford) beat everybody in our league, so it’s a good win for us,” La Salle coach Joe Voegele said. “Besides, we are going to state.”
The Lancers (24-7) play Solon (25-4) in a state semifinal at 4 p.m. June 2 at Huntington Park in Columbus. The winner advances to the state final at 1 p.m. June 4 in Columbus.
“I am honestly speechless right now,” said La Salle starting pitcher Jacob Kaiser. “This is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.”
Kaiser, a University of Charleston signee, improved to 9-1 on the mound. He allowed just three hits and struck out five.
“When he’s on the mound, we know he’s going to compete,” sophomore Griffin Merritt said. “We know he’s going to throw strikes. He’s not going to put a lot of runners on.”
A wild pitch allowed Milford to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. But the Lancers responded in the third, when senior Kevin Browne singled up the middle on a 3-2 pitch to score junior Brady Reynolds to tie the game.
The Lancers left two runners on base the first three innings but found an opportunity in the fifth, when junior Tyler Wardwell had a one-out double that scored two runs to give La Salle a 3-1 lead.
La Salle added three more runs in the sixth, when Merritt had a two-out double on an 0-2 count to left field with bases loaded to make it 6-1.
"Everybody in the stands is standing up," Merritt said. "...I just took advantage of it."
Wardwell, who was 2-for-3 with two RBI, scored in the seventh on a wild pitch to make it 7-1. Merritt finished the game 1-for-3 with three RBI.
Reynolds was 2-for-5, while catcher Jon Hambrick was 2-for-4 and right fielder Baron Moreland was 2-for-4.
Milford was led by junior right fielder Matt Kirk, who had two triples in the game. Milford (28-3) made its first regional final appearance since 2003.
Milford coach Tom Kilgore told his team to be proud of what it accomplished this season including Eastern Cincinnati Conference champions, sectional and district champions, No. 1 in the city and No. 3 in the state.