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South holds off Eagles (barely), 10-9

South holds off Eagles (barely), 10-9
South holds off Eagles (barely), 10-9
Lanesville catcher Jeremy Smitley is unfazed by the approaching collision at the plate with Cody Simpson of South Central last Thursday in the bottom of the sixth inning of the intra-county battle. South gave up six runs in the seventh, but held on for a 10-9 victory. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

Heading into the top of the seventh inning and leading 10-3, South Central’s baseball team had a firm grip on last Thursday afternoon’s rivalry game against Lanesville.
But then ‘ aided by a couple of errors by the home team and some timely hitting ‘ the visiting Eagles made the game as slippery as a greased pig and staged a furious rally.
Highlighted by a two-out, three-run homer by Kenton Acton, Lanesville closed the gap to 10-9. With runners at first and third, the Eagles still had life.
South twirler Nick Gehlbach delivered a pitch high and away to Seth Jacobs. Jacobs slapped the ball to right-center and as the ball came off the bat, Gehlbach looked to the sky and crossed his fingers.
“The way the inning was going, he needed to,” South coach Dr. Richard Brown said.
Rebel center fielder Jimmy Jamison swooped in and made the catch with ease to secure the one-run victory.
“It was mainly mental mistakes on our part that let (Lanesville) back in the game. It really came down to one play in the last inning where the shortstop tried to throw to third to get an out and should have thrown to first for the force,” Brown said. “We just played some stupid baseball and we about let it get away.”
Lanesville, a youthful team still trying to find its way, hung tough throughout the affair.
“We shouldn’t have been in that situation to win the game,” Eagles coach Sean Smith said. “We weren’t ready to play. Since we lost to Henryville, the last two games we’ve been flat. I don’t know what it is, but we’ve just kind of shown up and not had any focus.
“The one thing I can take away is that we hit the ball, but we’re still not consistent in hitting the ball. We’re young and I hate to keep using that as an excuse. We just have to try and get consistent because sectionals are coming up.”
Lanesville’s Collin McCullough drove in the game’s first run with a line drive up the middle in the second inning, scoring Acton.
In the bottom half, Dustin Hornickel singled and stole second, then moved to third on a sacrifice by Jamison. Ryan Funk grounded into a force-out, however the run came across to knot the affair at 1-all.
A one-out single by Lanesville’s Mike Minten was followed by a RBI single by Matthew Beckman.
South countered with a run of its own in its half of the third as Chad McRae had an infield single, stole second and third and came in on a fielder’s choice ground-out by Hornickel.
The Rebels took a 3-2 lead in the fourth when Kyle Cook had a ground ball up the middle to bring in Brandon Eschbacher.
Lanesville came right back and tied the game at 3-3 after Minten reached on a dropped third strike, stole second and scored on an error.
The Rebels took control in the bottom of the fifth, posting four runs.
A single by McRae and a RBI double to deep right by Gehlbach set up a two-run bomb by Hornickel. Simpson reached with a single, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Jamison marked the RBI with a ground out.
The Rebels scored three more runs in the sixth: McRae singled, Gehlbach walked and Simpson was plunked.
With two outs, Jamison came through with a clutch single that marked both of his teammates.
Funk capped the scoring for South with a RBI single.
That’s when things fell apart for the hosts.
After McCullough doubled and Seth Jacobs reached on a fielder’s choice, Minten doubled for two RBI.
Beckman followed with a single and went to second on a two-out error that allowed Jeremy Smitley to reach.
With two on, Acton blasted one to deep left for a home run (South contended the ball didn’t go over the fence, but under it).
Steve Lewis reached on another dropped third strike and then McCullough reached on an error at short.
That’s when Gehlbach was able to finally retire the side.
‘I think we showed we need to work on our basics in the field,’ Brown said. ‘We just lost control.’