Wild pitches lead to wild finish, win for CC
‘We haven’t beat Clarksville in 20-plus years, lets break the streak today.’
Those were the words Corydon Central coach Zach Sipes sent his players during school on Monday prior to facing conference foe Clarksville. After school, the Panthers brought those wishes to life, pulling out an extra inning affair against the visiting Generals, 7-6.
It took eight innings of work, but in the bottom half of the eighth inning, with runners on the corners and one out, Chad Shireman legged out a double play attempt by a few steps, plating the game winning run.
‘In my mind I wanted to do a squeeze but I couldn’t pull the trigger,’ Sipes said. ‘I just wanted our guy (Shireman) to put the ball in play.’
John Lasky opened the eighth with an infield single. A sacrifice bunt attempt by Nate Cecil resulted in Laskey running into an out at second. With a runner on, Clarksville pitcher Chris Wanty didn’t help his cause, sending consecutive pitches to the backstop, putting the eventual winning run 90 feet away. After a consultation at the mound, Wanty walked Stu Stark and the Generals played for the double play. Shireman, after struggling at the plate early, hit a hard ball up the middle, but his speed clinched the win as the Generals weren’t quick enough to turn two.
‘This is the biggest win of my career,’ an emotional Sipes said after the game. ‘These guys have been plugging away, most of them for three or four years. This means a lot to them.’
Clarksville (4-2), No. 12 in Class 2A, trailed throughout until they tied the score in the sixth. After Josh Windell’s run scoring double and Adam Ward’s sacrifice fly in the fifth inning, a pair of insurance runs gave Corydon Central a 6-2 edge.
‘Their pitcher (Wantee) is tough, and we got to him a couple times,’ Sipes said.
Including the game winning hit, Shireman put in a solid five innings on the hill for Corydon (2-3), striking out seven and giving up just two runs.
Battery-mate Nolan Brightman, after throwing out three base stealers, took over in relief. Control was the issue after inducing two outs. A single and a pair of walks loaded the bases for base clearing double by Casey Schafer. Schafer scored on a single, but Brightman added to his assists, picking off the runner at first.
‘What we like to do in a game is to make it interesting,’ Sipes said. ‘We can never have a solid one-two-three inning to win a game.’
Jeremy Smith picked up the win, pitching a scoreless seventh and eighth inning before the Panthers pushed across the winning run.
At the plate, Corydon Central was active. They scattered 10 hits up and down the lineup, with eight Panthers getting some of the action. Smith had two singles and an RBI. Brightman and Windell each had run scoring doubles and Michael Simler legged out a triple.
For Sipes and the Panther baseball program, the win means a lot. Over the past four seasons, the start of the season is always tough due to scheduling strong opponents.
‘The past three years have been pretty ugly to start the year,’ Sipes said. ‘If we can continue this good start this year, get these kids some confidence, I think it will be a pretty good year.’
This season has been promising, the Panthers have been in every game they’ve played, with opportunities to win each night.
Last Thursday, Corydon took a 1-0 lead into the fifth inning, against Class 2A No. 7 Charlestown, but a six late runs doomed the Panthers. Charlestown’s Chris Brady picked up his second win of the season in the 6-1 decision. Bruce Oldham clocked a homer for Charlestown. The Pirates improved to 4-0.
Corydon continues in Mid-Southern Conference play as they travel to rival North Harrison tomorrow (Thursday) at 5 p.m.
The Panthers host a double-header against Crawford County on Saturday at 11 a.m., then travel to Providence on Monday at 5 p.m.