OAK HILL — This Oak Hill team has a lot of promise, and in a couple years, it'll potentially be a force to reckon with inside of the SOC II and Division III. 

However, there are some growing pains it’ll endure along the way and Tuesday was just the latest example. 

Though the Oaks hit the ball well, it had trouble getting the key hits with runners on base and suffered a season-ending 5-2 loss to Southeastern in a Division III sectional semifinal. 

“When key situations came, we just couldn’t get the base hits we needed,” Oak Hill coach Jason Wright said. “You have to capitalize in those moments and drive runs in. We also made two huge errors that cost us two or three runs, and we couldn’t recover. That’s baseball sometimes, and it’s all a part of learning the game.” 

Southeastern drew first blood to open the game as Waker Flowers ripped an RBI single to center field, putting it ahead 1-0. 

Not to be outdone though, the Oaks countered back with an RBI single from Gavin Howell to tie the game 1-1. They had their chance to pile on with the bases loaded before grounding out to end the threat. 

Those missed opportunities would come back to bite them in the fourth. 

Southeastern had runners on first and third and attempted to pick off the runner at third base. However, the throw was off target and ended up by the fence to score the runner. That was followed by an RBI bloop single from Connor Smith, extending the lead to 3-1. 

Then two batters later with runners on second and third, the Oaks committed a fielding error that allowed both Panthers to score for a 5-1 ballgame. 

“We had two really bad things happen in that inning, and it just killed us,” Wright said. “Southeastern took advantage of having runners on and we didn’t. We can’t make mistakes and then not hit the ball, that won’t win games.” 

Oak Hill attempted to counter back and managed to score on a fielder’s choice by Isaiah Needham to cut the game down to 5-2. Yet, it managed to load the bases again with just one out, but the next two batters flew out to center field to end the inning. 

They had one final chance in the bottom of the sixth with two runners on but grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning and ultimately ice the game. 

“It definitely wasn’t the ending we wanted, but we still had some good moments this season,” Wright said. “We managed to win 13 games, battled some teams really tough and developed our chemistry pretty well. It took a little longer than we would have liked, but it connected in the last two weeks, and we played some solid ball.” 

Nate Clutters took the loss on the mound, allowing six hits and four earned runs while striking out four batters. Howell finished 1-for-4 with an RBI, while Needham was 1-for-3 with an RBI. 

The one silver lining for the Oaks is that nearly every single player is back for next season, and with a year of seasoning under their belts.  

“How good we can be as a team is all up to them,” Wright said. “Remember, we had eight freshmen on the team who played a lot of varsity innings. Baseball was the only boys’ sport to have a winning record with all due respect to cross country who had a good season as well on the boys side. The challenge to the guys is how much better do they want to be. How much work will they put in to improve. You have to keep working, so we’ll find ways to get better and come back stronger.”