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Teammates gather around home plate to celebrate a home run hit by Alex Goforth, who buries his head in anticipation of pats on his helmet. Photo by Brian Smith

Goforth HR lifts No. 7 Rebels

April 30, 2014 | 11:39 AM

Alex Goforth's two-run home run essentially put the final coat on a polished pitching effort by Nick Veith last Wednesday.

Veith was impressive on the bump for South Central, striking out 12. He also scored twice, helping the Rebels defeat Crawford County in a brisk 90-minute game, 5-1, in Elizabeth.

"He threw a lot of strikes," South Central coach Brian McKnight said of Veith's performance. "He struggled one inning with getting behind, but, other than that, when he works ahead, he is fine. He did a great job keeping the ball down today."

It took until the sixth inning for the Class A No. 7 Rebels to go comfortably ahead. Leading 3-1, Goforth provided the pop, hitting a homer over the left-field fence. The line drive no-doubter brought home Nathan Shaffer after he led off the frame with a single.

"That's the second game in a row he's hit one out," McKnight said. "He's seeing the ball a lot better and keeping his head still."

McKnight said Goforth's approach has been the key to the recent power.

"He's not trying to hit home runs, but, like today, he hit a line drive that just carried. It was a line-drive swing," he said.

Plays behind Veith helped lead to the victory as well. To go with 12 punch-outs, four outs came way of double plays. The middle infield combination of shortstop Cory Ray and second baseman Tanner Stark rolled a pair on two occasions.

Crawford County's Seth Fell had a day at the plate, hitting a single in all three appearances. His last hit, in the seventh, preceded a double play. Veith induced a grounder off Dante Harris' bat, leading to a Ray-to-Stark-to-Jack Turner play. Turner picked the throw out of the dirt to complete the turn.

"Tanner and Cory did a great job with the double plays," McKnight said. "We've been working and telling them to 'just turn it.' It doesn't matter if the ball gets past us; just try to turn it. It's 10 foot to our fence, so just throw it and see what happens. Jack made a great play on the last one."

Crawford County had two runners reach in the fourth inning, a Novak single and Phil Walton walk, but another 6-4-3 double play spoiled the threat.

Turning double plays with confidence is an area of the national pastime the Rebels have improved upon.

"Last year, we had double-play opportunities but we wouldn't throw the ball from second base to first," McKnight said. "They'd hang on to it because they feared a mistake. This year, they are just turning it."

Offensively, South Central took advantage of a slow start by Fell on the hill. Fell went the distance, striking out one, but had trouble with command in the opening.

Parker Gabhart, Logan May and Turner drew first-inning walks for South Central. Ray also reached on an error, loading the bases with no outs for Shaffer. Putting the ball in play, Nick Veith raced home to beat the force play, on Shaffer's grounder to third.

Goforth followed Shaffer with another fielder's choice, allowing Gabhart to score. Fell battled to escape the danger, striking out Joseph Logsdon, holding South Central to a 2-0 lead.

"You just want to score runs any way you can, especially early in a game," McKnight said. "We'll take walks or errors, whatever it takes to score runs."

An inning later, back-to-back doubles with two outs led to additional scores by the Rebels. Veith and Gabhart hit doubles to nearly the identical spot toward the right center-field fence. Gabhart earned the RBI for his hit.

"Nick has hit the ball well all year, and Parker is coming along," McKnight said. "He struggled a little bit but is getting the stroke back."

Crawford County's lone run came in the top of the fifth. Fell led off with a single then came home two batters later when Jacob Mauck hit a double down the left-field line.

The one run wasn't enough to catch the Rebels.

So far this season, McKnight has praised the pitching staff.

"Pitching has been real good," he said. "That's four or five earned runs in our last six games. Outside of the Tell City game, our pitching has been really good. We have to keep getting better though."

The coach also said the team is far from peaking just yet. He's hoping the Rebels can put together consistent hitting and pitching in the same outing.

"It's either one or the other," McKnight said. "We're getting better at picking up key hits with runners in scoring position."

Fell took the loss but, outside the first inning, didn't walk another batter. He, along with Novak, combined for five of Crawford County's six hits.

Veith earned the win, scattering six hits. As a team, six different Rebels — Veith, Gabhart, Shaffer, Goforth, Ray and Logsdon — had one hit each.

South Central will hit the diamond again Friday at Floyd Central before playing a key Southern Athletic Conference game at Borden on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Crawford County 000 010 0 – 1 6 1

South Central 210 002 x – 5 6 1

W – Veith, L – Fell.

2B – Mauck (CC), Veith (SC), Gabhart (SC); HR – Goforth (SC).

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