|Wed, Jul 23, 2014 02:13 PM
June 11, 2014 | 09:17 AM
Inning after inning, chance after chance, South Central had opportunities to break the game open against Tecumseh.
Unable to come up with hits to open a wide lead, South Central allowed Tecumseh to hang around through a lengthy 10-inning game. In the end, Tecumseh came up with three key hits in the bottom of the 10th to defeat South Central 6-5 in the Class A Loogootee Regional semi-final on Saturday.
"You can't give good ball teams second chances," South Central coach Brian McKnight said. "When we didn't score with runners in position, you knew it would come down to the way it ended. Tecumseh stepped up when they had an opportunity to score a run."
Pitching in relief, South Central's Nick Veith was near unhittable since he entered the game to record the final out of the sixth inning. At one point, Veith recorded nine straight outs by way of strike-outs.
South Central's Alex Goforth, top photo, celebrates with teammates, from left, Tanner Stark and Nick Veith, after scoring a run against Tecumseh.
The momentum changed in the bottom of the 10th. Ty Webb began the inning with a single up the middle off the glove of Veith.
Coming up next, Brady Freimiller put down a bunt perfectly pushed between and beyond the reach of Veith and third baseman Alex Goforth for a single.
"They put that bunt down, and no one was going to get that," McKnight said.
With two on and no outs, Adam Lytle advanced both runners up a base with a sacrifice bunt. It set the table for Shelby Beard, who struck out in his three previous at-bats, to be the hero.
Beard came up with the goods, hitting a single to left-center field, plating the walk-off, game-winning run.
The Tecumseh win closed South Central's season with a 20-9 record.
"I'll take 20 wins any time," McKnight said. "I didn't realize the roll we were on. You look for that roll at the end of the year, but you know sooner or later it may catch up to you. We needed to be on a roll this time of year. We played very good baseball the last half of the year."
South Central had a tremendous start to the game as the visiting team on the scoreboard. The Rebels put up a three spot before the Braves came up to bat.
In the opening inning, Tecumseh starter Shelby Beard struggled with command, walking two and hitting one batter. Coming up with singles in the opening inning for South Central were Austin Knear, Parker Gabhart and Jack Turner, helping the Rebels take the early led.
Beard was eventually replaced by Tristan Cummings on the hill, who worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first, striking out two for the final outs.
South Central would add an additional run in the third. Goforth took a pitch off his helmet to reach base. After two outs, Logan May hit a single to right, bringing Goforth around to the plate.
Despite going up 4-0, the Rebels struggled to capitalize with runners on base in other innings. In each of the first five frames, the lead-off batter reached. On three occasions, it was Cory Ray, twice with hits and once via walk.
"We did not have the real big hit," McKnight said. "We had some in the first inning, but for nine innings after that we couldn't get a big one to keep innings going. It's tough."
Eight batters came to the plate for Tecumseh in the fourth inning to chip away at the South Central lead.
A single by Webb and a double by Freimiller set the table. South Central pitcher Nathan Shaffer went through an up-and-down stretch when the pair reached. A four-pitch walk to Lytle was followed by striking out Beard.
Command became an issue when Shaffer hit Jacob Burkett and walked Kody Schoenbaechler to allow a pair of runners to score.
Tecumseh made it a 4-3 game with a Robby Dunn sac fly before Shaffer ended the inning.
South Central was able to get one run back, aided by Goforth reaching on a single to start the fifth. A stolen base then a sacrifice by Shaffer put Goforth at third. In prime position, Goforth scored on a wild pitch, putting the Rebels in front 5-3.
Knotting the game at 6, Tecumseh used a two-out RBI single off the bat of Schoenbaechler to make it a 5-4 game. Shaffer appeared to end the inning with a fly ball to right, but Joseph Logsdon misplayed the ball, allowing a run to score.
Veith jumped in relief, ending the threat with a strikeout.
"Nate got out of the fourth inning, which could have been worse," McKnight said. "It looks like we're getting out of the sixth inning, then they dribble one up the middle then Joseph drops the fly ball."
Up until the game-winning hit, South Central had chances. In the sixth, back-to-back hits by Veith and Knear were left stranded. A lead-off double by Jack Tuner then Shaffer reaching on an error trying to sacrifice was a promising start to the seventh. The bases eventually jammed full in the frame, but a run didn't come across.
A pair of runners also reached in the eighth and ninth innings, but nothing was shown for it. May and Logsdon reached to kick-start the ninth, but Ray wasn't able to put a sac bunt down to move up the runners.
"We didn't do that part very well at all other than Nate Shaffer putting down two really good bunts," McKnight said of playing small ball. "He did great with it, but the other people struggled with it when we needed to move runners. If we moved guys into position, it makes it a different game for the other team. We're looking for a fly ball or, if they move the infield in, we can hit it hard through. We couldn't get to that situation."
Cummings earned the win, striking out eight in 9-2/3 innings of work.
"The same thing has happened to us all year long," McKnight said. "When teams switch pitchers, we can not adjust to the second guy. We hit the first pitcher, he goes out, then they shut us down. We couldn't string anything together after that."
Veith was impressive in relief, an arm McKnight is excited about in the future.
"I'm looking forward to him coming back," he said. "He'll be stronger next year and a very good pitcher. He has a very good curve ball that took care of a lot of guys today."
Turner was South Central's top bat in the regional game, going 3 for 5. Ray reached four times on two hits and a pair of walks.
The Rebels graduate three seniors: Austin Knear, Tanner Stark and Nathan Shaffer.
Tecumseh advanced to the regional final Saturday night and lost to No. 4 Vincennes Rivet 8-2. To reach the final, Rivet knocked off No. 2 Orleans 4-3.
Setting up the final four at semi-state, No. 9 Washington Township takes on No. 5 Rockville while No. 3 Shakamak faces Rivet.
South Central 301 010 000 0 – 5 11 1
Tecumseh 000 302 000 1 – 6 10 3
W – Cummings, L – Veith.
2B – Turner (SC), D. Pemberton (T), Freimiller (T), Grannan (T).