Delta baseball defeats Yorktown in extra innings to become Delaware County champions

Delta baseball poses with the Delaware County trophy May 11 after winning the Delaware County tournament at Yorktown High School. Zach Carter, DN.
Delta baseball poses with the Delaware County trophy May 11 after winning the Delaware County tournament at Yorktown High School. Zach Carter, DN.

The latest installment of the Delta and Yorktown rivalry was on the baseball field as the Eagles and Tigers met Saturday evening at Yorktown High School for the championship game of the 2024 Delaware County baseball tournament.

While defense was the name of the game for the first six innings as Delta led 2-1, the Tigers struck back in the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run by senior Jacob Grim. After going into extra innings, the Eagles loaded the bases in the top of the ninth. 

A fielder’s choice play gave the Eagles a 3-2 lead, the blue and gold wanted insurance. After an intentional walk to load the bases, junior Chase Ritchie was up to bat. 

“I refused to strike out,” Ritchie said.  

With two outs, he smashed a two-RBI single, giving the Eagles a 5-2 lead which ended up being the final score. Delta baseball was Delaware County champions for the first time since 2017. 

“That was like a childhood moment,” he said. “You dream about [something like] that.” 

The Eagles have made the championship game for the last three years. Unlike those last two games, head coach Devin Wilburn held the trophy after winning his first Delaware County title as Delta’s commander. 

“I’m just proud of our guys,” he said. “We felt like it was our time and we had the team for it. We’ve been saying all year this is the team who would turn the ship around.” 

Even though both offenses delivered in the later innings, it was a pitcher’s duel for most of the matchup. For Delta, senior Kayden Thomas went seven innings with seven strikeouts and allowed four hits. After Grim took him deep in his final inning, Thomas got out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout. 

“You just have to reset [after a homer],” Thomas said. “It’s tough, especially with a game like this. But you have to erase it and stay aggressive.”  

Thomas pitches.jpg
Delta senior Kayden Thomas pitches May 11 against Yorktown during the Delaware County tournament at Yorktown High School. Zach Carter, DN.

With Delta junior Zane Cline being out due to injury, Wilburn asked the rest of his pitching staff to keep up the pressure. Thomas has done just that. 

“He is a bulldog and is one of the most competitive kids I've ever met,” Wilburn said. “He wants the ball in the big moments. He always enters the battlefield and always steps up for us.

“He’s going to go home and be mad about the home run he gave up because he wants [to beat] these guys.” 

Thomas was relieved by sophomore Maddux Hoffman, who also dealt with a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the ninth. Once again, Delta’s pitching staff delivered as a groundout gave the Eagles the victory. 

“He doesn't have a ton of experience, but he looked great,” Wilburn said. “He pitched against Mount Vernon and New Palestine. He’s pitched against good competition and he's answered the bell.” 

For the Tigers, senior Landen Eppard went six innings and struck out eight Eagles. While the green and white’s defense kept their rivals at bay for a majority of the game, Delta’s situational hitting kicked in late and the blue and gold never looked back.

“We practice situational hitting almost every single day,” Wilburn said. “[It’s about] hitting with runners in scoring position and moving the baseball. We did a really bad job at it for the beginning part of the game, but they always say that stuff is contagious.” 

With seven games left before the state tournament begins, the Eagles believe this boost of momentum will help them finish the year strong and prepare them for the postseason. 

“For a program that hasn’t won in a long time, and to do it on their field, it’s huge [for momentum]” Thomas said. “We’re going to take this energy moving forward.” 

The Tigers will try to find the win column when they travel to Oak Hill Monday, May 13 with the first pitch at 5:30 p.m. The Eagles will look to continue their four-game win streak when they take on Jay County at home on Monday, May 13. The game will start at 5 p.m.. 

Contact Zach Carter with comments at zachary.carter@bsu.edu or on X @ZachCarter85.

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