ROCKVILLE – The soft line drive fell between two diving outfielders and down to the turf. With that base hit Southmont’s dream of winning a sectional baseball game also went down.
Greencastle rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and eliminated the Mounties in walk off fashion, 6-5, in Class 2A Sectional 44 action at Parke Heritage’s Gideon Field.
“It was a tough way to end, especially for these seniors,” South coach Bill Woods said. “They are a resilient team and so are we. I’m sure we have a few more battles with them coming.”
It was the second two-run lead South blew in consecutive innings. The Mounties took their second such advantage in the top half of the last inning. Senior Chayce Howell walked and stole second. He was singled home by Adam Cox, who advanced to second on a throwing error. That broke a 3-3 tie. After Mason Hall grounded out and moved courtesy runner Dylan Howell to third, junior Carter Hubble reached on a bunt single. One batter later Gunnar Shirk hit a shot off the shortstop for an infield single and RBI. South went into the home half up 5-3.
Cox relieved Hall on the mound and looked to be in the drivers seat for a win with the Tiger Cubs’ 7-8-9 hitters up. After a strike out, Ethan Hamm was hit by a pitch. Cox got Conner Sullivan on strikes to bring up the top of the order. Back to back doubles by Chase Carrington and Jaylon Bushong pushed two across before freshman Nathan Sutherlin’s walk off hit.
The first two-run lead came in the fifth. Chayce Howell reached on an error. Cox doubled him to third and scored on a Hall grounder for a 3-1 lead. The Tiger Cubs plated a pair in the sixth to tie it 3-3.
South took its first lead 2-1 after two outs in the third. Mason Hall singled to center and Dylan Howell ran for him. Howell promptly stole second and scored on a single by Carter Hubble.
One thing Woods preached when he took the head job was a return to discipline. Freshman Phisher Benge showed that in the top of the second at the plate. The ninth hitter saw fellow frosh Gunnar Shirk at third. Benge went eight pitches in before a ground out to shortstop which scored Shirk with the first Mountie run. It was 1-1 at that point.
“We hit the ball pretty decent, put the ball in play, but we didn’t bunt very well. We left runs out there. We still work on discipline in some parts of the game. I think they understand that better.”
Cox finished his career with a 3-for-4 night, RBI and run scored. That is a long way from the lower body injury that kept him sidelined most of the season.
“We were focused the whole time tonight,” Cox said. “There were times we could’ve quit, but we kept on battling to the very end. I just stayed patient at the plate. It’s been hard coming back from the injury, but started to get my swing back.”
Hall worked five innings and did not give up any earned runs. He struck out 10, including the side in both the second and third working around a hit and a couple of walks. He also worked out of bases loaded jams twice. The senior did give six walks and gave up four hits, but exited the game with that 3-1 lead.
“Mason pitched a hell of a game,” Woods said. “He didn’t want to come out, but he was starting the fourth time through the lineup. He still had a few pitches to go, but he was getting mentally tired and probably physically. Adam is a competitor and I had no second doubts about bringing him in. We had them where we wanted them.”
The Mounties were trying to avenge a 8-0 loss to the Tiger Cubs on April 24. Both teams are young as Greencastle started three freshmen and two sophomores. South had freshmen Shirk and Benge.
South’s season closes at 5-18 and the career of five seniors conclude in Adam Cox, Mason Hall, Chayce Howell, Connor McKinney, and Caden Jones. Greencastle (13-11) moves on to play North Putnam in the first semi-final at 11 a.m. Monday. The second semi has South Putnam playing Cloverdale. The championship contest is Monday evening.