The Whitfield Warriors and coach Mike Wilhelm are set to experience sectional baseball.
The Warriors defeated Brentwood 3-2 in eight innings to win the Class 3 District 5 championship. It was Whitfield’s first district title since 2008 when the Warriors toiled in Class 2.
The Warriors’ reward will be a home game against a first-time opponent. Whitfield (9-6) plays Montgomery County (15-8) at 4:30 p.m. Monday.
“We have never played Montgomery County,” Wilhelm said. “We play significantly better at home, but we expect them to travel with a lot of fans for this game.”
Whitfield last reached the quarterfinals in 2005. To snap that drought, Wilhelm said his Warriors must do several things against the visiting Wildcats.
“We must pitch well and play better defense then the other team,” Wilhelm said. “If we can stay out of the big inning, then we have a good shot at winning.”
A wet spring left the Warriors missing the opportunity to play more games in the regular season. Still, they were ready for postseason play.
“We played pretty consistent throughout the season, which was difficult with all the rain that we’ve had,” Wilhelm said. “We have a very young team so they were very excited, especially because we were the No. 1 seed.
“District 5 is pretty competitive, and the top few seeds were very comparable. We could’ve been seeded first through third and I wouldn’t have been surprised.”
Whitfield opened district action with a 8-3 win over Principia.
“Principia has been a tough opponent for us the last few years, but we definitely had the upper hand this year,” Wilhelm said. “Cameron Robinson and Chase Brock had big games in the semifinals against Principia.”
That win led Whitfield to meeting Brentwood for district title. The Warriors opened season against Brentwood and won 4-3.
“We knew they were going to throw a strong pitcher against us,” Wilhelm said. “We needed to be able to pitch with them and make fewer mistakes than they did.”
That’s what happened as the Warriors scored a 3-2 win in eight innings.
“(It was a) Tight game right from the beginning,” Wilhelm said. “Both teams played solid defense and had fantastic pitching.”
Brentwood struck first and scored a couple runs in the third inning. Whitfield countered and tied the game by scoring a run in the fourth and fifth innings.
“Freshman Chase Brock had an important RBI double that tied the game in the fifth,” Wilhelm said.
The game-winner came in the eighth inning. Junior Jonah Boyer was hit by a pitch and stole second base in the 8th inning. Senior Greg Eickhoff hit a walkoff double to score Boyer.
“Greg Eickhoff has the winning hit in the bottom of the eighth with a double near the base of the fence,” Wilhelm said.
The starter was sophomore JJ Lerner. He threw the first four innings. Brock pitched last four innings.
Each youngster did a good job, Wilhelm said.
“They limited the opponent to only five hits and two walks in eight innings,” Wilhelm said.
The walkoff hit by Eickhoff set off a big celebration by the Warriors.
“I don’t think I have seen our team so engaged and so focused like they were for this game,” Wilhelm said. “The walkoff hit was just a perfect ending for a well played game by both teams.
“This district title is great for our program. We are trying to build and improve our program, and this is a great step in the right direction.”