NELSONVILLE, Ohio —Reece Robson made River Valley’s day definitely one to forget.
That’s because Robson pitched a complete-game two-hit gem, then went one hit shy of the cycle while going a perfect 4-for-4 — as Robson led the Nelsonville-York Buckeyes to a 12-0 blanking of the Raiders in Wednesday’s Division III baseball sectional semifinal at Blackburn Field in Nelsonville.
With the win, fifth-seeded Nelsonville-York raised its record to 14-6, while the 12th-seeded Raiders fell to 4-13.
The Buckeyes banged out a dozen earned runs on a dozen hits, including a half-dozen doubles before who else but Robson punctuated the performance with a two-run home run to left field in the fourth inning.
That made him a perfect 4-for-4, as he had a slow-rolling infield single in the opening inning, followed by RBI-doubles to left-centerfield in the second and third.
On the mound, Robson rolled along, striking out eight and walking one while facing the Raider lineup two times through.
He faced four Raiders apiece in the first and third frames, sandwiched around seeing the minimum three in the second — before retiring the side 1-2-3 in the last two, including a pair of strikeouts in each.
“Reece (Robson) had command of all of his pitches. He got ahead of hitters, and just did a great job of controlling the game,” said Nelsonville-York coach Wayne Dicken. “He likes to start off by spotting a lot of pitches, so he can save some of his best stuff at the end. That’s how it worked out tonight.”
The Raiders often made good contact on their at-bats, but everything they hit went directly to a Buckeye fielder.
In fact, River Valley’s only hits were Wyatt Halfhill’s single to lead off the second, and an infield hit by Austin Ragan in the third, in which Robson was line-driven in the leg.
But Robson shook the shot off, and promptly retired the final seven batters he faced, including five via strikeout.
The only other Raider runners were Dustin Barber on a one-out walk in the first and Jack Farley on a dropped third strike to lead off the third.
Barber, who stole second, was the only Raider to reach scoring position — as the Buckeyes turned a double play in both the second and third frames.
“That was our problem. Everything we hit, we hit straight to them,” said RVHS coach Bobby Jeffers. “They hit the gaps on everything they hit, and we hit straight to them.”
Indeed, only one River Valley at-bat — Halfhill’s single — made it out of the infield.
Meanwhile, the Buckeye bats kept the Raiders’ outfielders busy.
With the assistance of seven free bases by River Valley’s two pitchers, Nelsonville-York scored one run on two hits in the first, three times on three hits in the second, six runs on six consecutive hits in the third, and finally on Robson’s home run in the fourth.
Farley was the starting pitcher for the Raiders, going the first two and two-thirds innings — while allowing eight runs on seven hits with four walks and two hit batsmen.
Ragan finished for the final one-and-a-third, giving up four runs on five hits while hitting Ted Campbell on the at-bat before Robson’s homer.
Farley struck out eight and Ragan one, but too many N-Y hard hits and too many bases allowed did the Raiders in.
“Nelsonville-York is a hard-hitting team. They hit the ball well today and they have all season. Can’t take anything away from them. And we gave them some free bases as well. Pitching is a crapshoot. Either you are on or you are off,” said Jeffers.
The Buckeyes scored the only run they needed for the win in the first —when Garett Maiden and Robson both singled, sandwiched around a walk to Campbell to load the bases.
Maiden raced home on a wild pitch for the 1-0 lead.
Hunter Dobbs, who no-hit the Raiders in the two teams’ initial meeting, went 2-for-4 with a two-run double in the second and another RBI-double in the third.
Maiden went 2-for-2 with a two-bagger in the second, while Campbell dropped in a two-run double in the third.
Jacob Chaffin, Levi Lent and Shakim Williams singled consecutively in the third, with Chaffin and Williams collecting RBIs.
“This was probably one of the better games we’ve had at the plate this season,” said Dicken. “We were finding gaps, the top of the lineup really stepped up big for us in the first few innings. Then in the last few innings, some of the guys at the bottom of the lineup were getting in on the action. We stroked the ball real well.”
All the while, Robson kept the Raiders off the board.
River Valley still has a home game to make up against Meigs — to conclude the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division campaign.
The Raiders’ only sectional championship in school history came two years ago.
“We have seven seniors, a few of them have been with us for three or four years,” said Jeffers. “All of them are going to be missed, though.”
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106