It's been said that every baseball game tells a story.
Friday's district final game between Buckeye Central and Seneca East told about 17.
One of those tales was weaved by Tigers' coach Frank Lamoreaux, who related it to his players after what had been a disastrous first inning for them.
Seneca East had watched Buckeye Central send 14 men to the plate and score nine runs, due in large part to four Tiger errors.
Seneca East was down 9-1. Even to the players, it didn't look good.
"There were some heads that were down," said Seneca East catcher Kyle Depinet.
at North Robinson
Seneca East 19,
Buckeye Central 13
Seneca East (21-8): Jordan Bowerman 4-3-2-0; Billy Diehm 3-3-2-1; Dalton Wise 3-1-3-2; Jake Gurney 0-1-0-0; Elliott Lee 5-1-1-2; Jason Branham 4-3-2-2; Mason McWilliams 0-0-0-0; Adam Bauman 0-0-0-0; Kyle Depinet 4-1-3-3; Darin Baldosser 5-2-1-0; Nate Phillips 3-1-0-0; Jake Nagel 0-0-0-0; Ethan Caudill 4-3-3-6. Totals:35-19-17-16.
Buckeye Central (22-7): Adam Paynter 5-4-4-1; Justin Herrnstein 5-3-3-0; Tyler Erwin 4-0-1-1; Jacob Zeiter 3-1-1-3; Thomas Kaple 4-1-0-0; Chase Finney 3-1-1-1; Bryce Christy 3-1-2-1; Justin Miller 3-1-0-0; Eric Hanes 0-0-0-0; Jordan Herrnstein 4-1-1-0. Totals: 34-13-13-7.
Seneca East 132 232 5 - 19
Buckeye Central 901 010 2 - 13
WP - McWilliams (5-3). LP - Zeiter.
HR - Caudill 2, Branham, Depinet (SE).
3B - Depinet (SE); Ju. Herrnstein (BC).
2B - Bowerman, Diehm 2, Wise 2, Caudill (SE); Paynter, Ju. Herrnstein, Zeiter, Finney (BC)
Lamoreaux tried to encourage his squad. To do that, he referenced the hunt.
"So many of these guys coon hunt," Lamoreaux said. "I told them, 'How many times have you put a coon in your hunting coat, and it wasn't dead.' That was us. We're that coon that's not quite done yet."
Not even close, as it turned out. Ethan Caudill homered twice and drove in six runs. Jason Branham hit a two run homer, and Depinet hit the decisive blow - a three-run jack to left center in the sixth that broke an 11-all tie, and sent the Tigers to a jaw-dropping 19-13 win over the Bucks.
It was the Tigers' first district title since 2000.
Seneca East scored at least one run in every inning. It got to Buckeye Central starter Chase Finney and the three BC pitchers that followed, banging out a total of 17 hits.
"Seneca East hit the ball very well," Buckeye Central coach Chad Jensen said. "Our pitchers threw strikes, and they hit everything we threw at them."
SE's comeback started in the second. Finney retired the first two batters he faced, but then Darin Baldosser singled and Nate Phillips walked, bringing up Caudill, the No. 9 hitter.
"I wasn't trying to hit a home run," Caudill said. "I was trying to put a ball up the middle."
Technically, Caudill did. The ball he hit went over the center field wall, and the BC lead was cut to 9-4.
"That really got us going," Caudill said. "We started to believe that we could come back and win."
In the top of the third, Seneca East struck again. Billy Diehm doubled to open the inning. A walk to Dalton Wise followed which spelled the end for Finney on the mound; he was replaced by Jacob Zeiter.
Zeiter got Elliott Lee to hit the ball to shortstop for a double play, and it looked like the Bucks might escape the inning. But Jason Branham homered, and it was 9-6.
The Bucks got a run back in the bottom of the inning. Justin Herrnstein tripled to right, and scored on an errant throw in.
Now down 10-6, SE got it going in the fourth, again with two out. Jordan Bowerman, Diehm and Wise hit consecutive doubles, and were now within 10-8.
While the offense chipped away at its deficit, Seneca East starter Mason McWilliams had settled down. He threw a scoreless fourth, striking out the side.
"I got a lot more confidence, for sure," McWilliams said. "My curveball was definitely going over in the (later) innings. I was catching hitters off guard."
McWilliams was charged with six earned runs in six innings. But he struck out eight batters, and didn't walk a batter after the second.
The Tigers finally caught the Bucks in the fifth. A pair of BC errors helped the Tigers get a run, then a two-run double from Caudill gave SE an 11-10 edge.
It was short lived.
Adam Paynter opened Buckeye Central's fifth with a double, and came around to score on a ground out by Zeiter. BC had the go-ahead run at third with two outs, but McWilliams got Thomas Kaple to ground out.
In the SE sixth, Wise opened with a single, then moved to second on a Lee ground out. Branham was hit by a pitch, which sent Depinet to the plate.
The catcher got a fastball and turned on it. The three-run homer put the Tigers up, 14-11.
"I didn't know it was gone right off the bat," Depinet said. "After about halfway down [the baseline], I knew it was a good hit."
Lamoreaux didn't share Depinet's uncertainty.
"I knew it," Lamoreaux said. "I knew as soon as it came of the bat it was gone."
SE got insurance in the seventh. Caudill led off the inning with his second home run of the game, and the Tigers tacked on four more runs for good measure. Buckeye Central scored twice in the bottom of the inning, but Caudill relieved McWilliams and struck out two batters to end things.
"It seemed like the game went on for four or five hours, it just never ended," Caudill said. "It was probably the coolest game I've ever been a part of in any sport."
Seneca East travels to Lorain for the regional semifinal at 5 p.m. Thursday against Mogadore.
For the Bucks, Friday was the end of a run for a group of seniors played a role in so many high points over the last several years.
Adam Paynter wrapped his career with a big day at the plate, going 4 for 5 and scoring four times. Jacob Zeiter took the loss on the mound, but drove in three runs. Justin Herrnstein scored three times and had three hits.
"What these seniors mean to this program is beyond words," Jensen said. "They've won 83 games in four years. How many schools can say that? How many schools can say that they've been to three district final games and two regionals?"
As for Seneca East, the regional level will be new to them.
"Last night, I was up for an extra hour or so, I couldn't sleep," Depinet said. "This is the one thing I really wanted more than anything. It was so exciting all day."
Call it a run, or call it a hunt. Either way, the Tigers are still alive, just as their coach said they were.