3A No. 1 Dragons slayed by steady Corydon comeback
‘We didn’t quit.’ The words spoken by Corydon Central senior catcher Tyler Shewmaker described the effort the Panthers made to rally from a five-run deficit Thursday to defeat Class 3A No. 1 Silver Creek, 9-8, in Corydon.
‘The past couple years we may have quit, but this team is for each other,’ Shewmaker said. ‘After they put up the five spot, we talked about chipping away and we did.’
The five runs came at the expense of shaky defensive work by the Panthers. Three errors, combined with one walk, led to the runs. Only Dragon leadoff hitter Layne Taylor had a hit, a single, during the inning. Lucas McIntyre brought home the fifth run of the inning when he grounded into a fielder’s choice.
Moving forward, the Panthers began to do what Shewmaker spoke about: chip away.
An error trying to turn a double play on a Jeremiah Windell ground ball led to Jon Smith scoring in the first inning.
In the second inning, the Panthers added two runs when Shewmaker and Ethan Wright came across. Windell reached on an error to plate Wright, making the game 5-3.
Chase Burton, meanwhile, was steady on the mound after the first inning, rolling through the second through fourth innings with little trouble.
The Panthers then cut the lead to one in the third inning when Burton helped his cause with a leadoff single. He eventually scored on a Smith single.
‘We came out and hit the ball,’ said Corydon Central coach Zach Sipes. ‘The top got us going, and the middle added some hits. We chipped away those first few innings. Our goal was to stay close and chip away, and we did.’
Silver Creek, however, was able to extend its lead to 7-4 in the fifth inning. A walk and two errors led to the runs. Jamie Valvano had an RBI single in the frame.
Once again, the Panthers were resilient. Burton scored in the fifth, but the fireworks came in the sixth.
Smith led off with a hit and advanced a base via an Aaron Arnold sacrifice bunt. Following a Silver Creek error on a ball hit by Windell, Mitch Akers came up with the big blow. He shot a triple down the right-field line, scoring two to tie the game at 7.
Akers eventually came home when Silver Creek pitcher Lucas Barnett threw a wild pitch to the backstop. The insurance run came off the bat of Andrew Yeager, a shot up the middle to score Shewmaker. Shewmaker reached base four times, all by walks.
‘Akers the last couple of games has been struggling at the plate,’ Sipes said. ‘He’s been a big hitter for us this year, and today he went back to keeping his swing short and came up with the big one. He drove the ball to right nicely.’
The Dragons put two runners on to leadoff the seventh, but only pushed one across. Burton recorded his ninth strikeout when he fanned McIntyre to end the game.
‘Chase now is 5-0 and last year, after a first inning like that, he probably wouldn’t finish the game,’ Sipes said. ‘He came in the dugout today and stepped up as a leader and was encouraging the guys. He kept his head straight and was strong.’
‘Chase was on all night, pumping strikes in,’ Shewmaker said. ‘He has his off speed working and, with his fast ball, he is tough to hit hard.’
The win was the second over a ranked team during the week for the Panthers. They defeated Class 4A No. 10 Seymour, 1-0, last Monday with a strong pitching performance from Akers.
‘Going into this year, we thought within ourselves we’d be pretty good but, outside of our program, others didn’t really know what we had,’ Sipes said. ‘We beat Seymour and Silver Creek and competed with North Harrison, three really good teams. We’re now not going to fly under the radar anymore. They have to come to practice ready to work and keep getting better and playing smarter.’
Sipes said the key to taking down Silver Creek and staying in the Mid-Southern Conference hunt was maintaining a steady pace through the final six innings.
‘The first inning we fall back 5-0 and Silver Creek had only one base hit to go with our errors,’ he said. ‘But so far this year, our guys don’t let the game get too fast. It doesn’t matter what goes on out there, they were able to keep their heads straight and the game come to them. They did that today after the first inning.’
It turned out to be a five-win week for the Panthers, later sweeping a doubleheader Saturday against Paoli, 8-4 and 13-2. On Tuesday, they defeated Springs Valley, 8-2, on the road.
Corydon Central entered the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 3A poll at No. 9 this week. The Panthers will host Brownstown Central at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday) and Class A No. 4 South Central on Saturday at 11 a.m. for a double header.