Fate shines on Rebels in first title win
South Central made its first trip to a baseball sectional final in well over a decade one to remember.
Two days after skirting past No. 2-ranked Henryville in a semifinal thriller, 7-6, the Rebels one-upped county rival Lanesville in the championship game on Saturday afternoon, 4-3.
All three matchups between South Central and Lanesville this year were decided by a single run.
In the one for all the marbles, South trailed, 2-1, after the first inning and tied it in the second. The score remained knotted until the top of the fifth, when the Eagles scratched out one run.
In the bottom of the next inning, an error ‘ and an error in judgement ‘ helped allow two runs to come in and effectively put the game away.
Rebels senior Nick Gehlbach gave up a one-out single, but outside of the slip, Lanesville never got the ball out of the infield in its final at-bat.
‘I thought it’d be tough to beat a team three times, and it was, but the boys came through. A couple of times, each team made the wrong play. Overall, though, I thought it was a well-played game,’ South coach Dr. Richard Brown said. ‘We played a good game. We really did.’
Brown went on to say that he never expected the 2005 Rebels to be the ones to bring home the school’s first baseball sectional trophy.
‘No, especially not when you think about the fact that we lost seven starters from last year’s team,’ Brown said. ‘These boys came back and I have seniors who stuck it out for four years. They never got to play in the past and this year they got their shot to play.
‘They got the job done and I can guarantee you that they are just as happy as I am.’
Lanesville, which came into the affair with a 9-16 mark, wasted no time jumping ahead of the Rebels.
Aaron McKim walked and Seth Jacobs hit a line drive for a double to start the game. Darrin Pellman walked to load the bases, and Jeremy Smitley hit a single to drive in two runs.
South’s Chad McRae bashed one over the fence and into the creek in left to get one of the runs back in the bottom of the opening frame.
The Rebels held Lanesville scoreless in the second, then tied the affair in their half of the inning.
With two outs, Cody Simpson doubled and then scored when Ryan Funk drove a hit deep to right field. The ball dropped in, allowing Simpson to come across.
The score remained tied until the top of the fifth.
Lanesville’s Collin McCulloch walked and moved to third on a throwing error. McKim had a ground ball up the middle for a crucial RBI to give his team a 3-2 advantage.
South Central looked to be against the ropes, but the team worked its magic in the bottom of the sixth to recapture the lead.
Nick Gehlbach helped his own cause with his second double of the afternoon. Younger brother Greg Gehlbach reached on an error. That’s when Nance hit a ground ball through the left side of the infield to mark one run.
Greg Gehlbach moved to third on a long fly out by Pellman.
With two outs, Simpson stepped to the plate and hit a bouncer to Lanesville’s Taylor Hess.
Instead of going to first, Hess tried to get an out at the plate. The throw was a touch late and the game-winning run scored.
Lanesville starter Kenton Acton got Funk to ground out to end the inning.
‘The throw home was a big play, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that any one thing cost us the game,’ Lanesville coach Sean Smith said. ‘We had three opportunities to bust the game open and never created that big break to get over the jump. We didn’t bury them when we had a chance.’
Lanesville loses only two players from its roster.
‘We were a young team this year and we’ll still be pretty young next year,’ Smith said. ‘I’m really proud of my guys for showing up and playing the way they played these last three games. They showed what they are capable of.
‘We’ve got almost everyone back and we’ve got a good group coming in. Hopefully this loss will eat at them and they’ll be ready to come back in here again next year.’
County teams end run by Hornets, CAI
Henryville and Christian Academy of Indiana squared off for the Class 1A sectional in each of the past five years.
That run ended this year in the semifinal round last Thursday, however, as the No. 2-ranked Hornets were upset by South Central, 7-6, and Lanesville toppled CAI, 3-2.
Henryville got off on the wrong foot against the Rebels.
Starting pitcher Case Belcher gave up back to back walks to start the tussle, South’s Chad McRae reached on an error and Nick Gehlbach was hit by a pitch to let the first run come across.
Both Jimmy Jamison and Dustin Hornickel scored for a 2-0 lead through one half inning of action.
Henryville promptly tied the game in the bottom of the inning, but South came back with two more in the second.
Ryan Funk singled, Jamison walked and Hornickel singled. McRae was hit by a pitch and Gehlbach reached as South took a 4-2 lead.
Henryville made a game of it later, and had scored a pair of runs to pull within one, 7-6, with two outs and runners at the corners.
Steven Ashley hit a drive down the left field line that was ruled foul, much to the dismay (and disbelief) of Hornet fans.
A call of ‘fair’ would have at least tied the game, and with a little luck maybe could have ended it with a fleet-footed runner at first.
The very next pitch from South pitcher McRae struck Henryville’s batter out, however, and ended the game.
Henryville squashed the Rebels in a double-header on May 21.
Rebels coach Dr. Richard Brown said there won’t be any tears shed for the Hornets.
In 2002, South Central’s squad had a similar type of call go against it in an extra-inning, sectional semifinal loss to Orleans.
In that one, a ball was hit along the right field line and called foul, sending the would-be, game-winning run back to the bag.
After playing scoreless ball through eight innings, Orleans wound up advancing ‘ and eventually winning the sectional ‘ with a nine-inning, 7-1 victory over the Rebels.
‘I know Henryville thinks they got robbed,’ Brown said. ‘We got robbed down here, too, against Orleans a few years ago. I don’t look at that, though. There were other runs scored in the game.’
The eventual game-winner for South came when Nance, Greg Gehlbach and Simpson had back to back to back singles in the top of the seventh inning.
After trailing for most of the game, Lanesville posted three runs in the bottom of the sixth to knock off the Warriors.
Taylor Hess, Jeremy Smitley and Kenton Acton all singled in the pivotal inning and then Steve Lewis walked for the Eagles’ runs.