7-run inning lifts Rebs by rival
Seven runs in one inning was the difference.
Class A No. 5 South Central tallied seven in the second inning to open a wide lead over rival Lanesville to win the Southern Athletic Conference meeting 7-2 Friday.
It may not have been ace pitcher Jason Boston’s best stat line (four hit batters and six walks) but the senior battled through the wildness at times to earn the win.
When Boston was pounding the strike zone, he didn’t give up much to the Eagles. He managed to punch out 10 batters while scattering three hits.
‘Jason struggled all night,’ South Central coach Brian McKnight said. ‘He really did. He hit four batters and walked several. He was just off tonight, but he battled through it. He had been throwing really well. We may get him a little more work during the week.’
To boost Boston’s effort on the hill, the Rebels exploded for seven runs in the second inning.
Jack Turner led off the frame with a single to left. He was followed by Nathan Shaffer reaching on an error off his cousin, opposing pitcher Stephen Shaffer.
With two on, Cory Ray came up with the first big hit, a single to drive in both runners. Out of the nine-hole, Alex Goforth laid down a sac bunt that was misplayed, allowing him to reach first.
‘The bunt sparks us because you have kids at the bottom of the order doing their job of moving runners to get them in scoring position,’ McKnight said. ‘Then the top of the order comes through to score some runs. A couple bunts can really start it for us.’
Stephen Shaffer thought he had the first out by striking out Austin Knear, but he would reach on a wild pitch on the third strike that allowed a run to cross. Nick Veith cashed in on the opportunity with runners on, lacing a double to left field, scoring two. Boston then helped his own cause with an infield single.
Out of the clean-up spot, Spencer Ray made the score 6-0 with a sacrifice fly. Gabhart would cap the scoring with a single, plating Boston.
‘We had a couple miscues in one inning cost us a little bit,’ Lanesville coach Rusty McCubbins said. ‘It’s kind of like golf; you have a nice round going but one hole really messes it up. That’s kind of like us today. We had one bad inning.’
Scoring a lot of runs in one inning is something the Rebels have done often lately, according to McKnight.
‘One big inning. That’s what we’ve been doing lately,’ he said. ‘Then we struggle from there on out. I’m not sure the reason, but we do. I counted 14 fly balls, which is way too many. We need to get back to hitting line drives. When we’re good, we’re hitting line drives. We weren’t on it tonight.’
Lanesville was able to get one run back in the bottom of the second when lead-off Josh Barnes smacked a single. After back-to-back strikeouts, Stephen Shaffer reached on a walk, bringing up Brandon Blackerby. The left-handed hitter took the first pitch he saw to right field for a single, scoring Lanesville’s first run.
The Eagles would strand runners on the corners when John Ferree flied out.
The inning prior, Lanesville loaded the bases on a walk and two hit batters but couldn’t score.
‘He helped us out with hitting a few batters and walking some,’ McCubbins said. ‘We all agreed (Boston) didn’t have his best control today.’
Shaffer settled in for the Eagles in the third through fifth innings. He allowed only one base runner, a Veith single in the fourth, during the three frames.
‘Stephen, a sophomore, is a crafty kind of kid,’ McCubbins said. ‘He doesn’t throw hard but mixes up his speeds to get batters off balanced. Not everybody can have a pitcher that throws 83. We don’t have one but want to hit spots, play smart.’
Singles by Cory Ray and Veith put two Rebels on base in the sixth, but they weren’t able to add to the lead.
Lanesville was able to post another run in the final inning after Boston hit Ferree and Justin Miller to put them on. Caleb Gresham hit a double to score Ferree down the right-field line.
Boston escaped trouble, closing the game with a strike out and fly out.
Despite the loss, McCubbins likes the direction the team is going toward the final few weeks of the regular season.
‘We feel better,’ he said. ‘We had some nice games and some really, really bad games. We feel like we’re trending in a positive direction at the right time. Some peak really early, and the rest they taper down. We had a rough start, but I think we are trending up. We want to do that at the end of the year.’
The win keeps the Rebels undefeated in SAC play, setting up an end-of-the-year showdown with Henryville. They will host the Hornets May 18.
‘It’ll come down to that game again,’ McKnight said.
The first-year coach said his team is playing good baseball.
‘We’re doing the small things, the fundamental things right. We have to put the ball in play a little better than we did tonight,’ he said.
One week prior to facing Lanesville, South Central dropped a pair of close games to powerhouses Providence and Class 4A No. 1 Floyd Central.
‘After those games, I felt pretty good,’ McKnight said. ‘We battled with both of them. Those were two really good teams, and we were right there with them. We were ahead of Floyd Central late, and I don’t know how many teams that can say that so far this year, but we were.’
South Central will return to action tonight (Wednesday) when it heads to North Harrison. Lanesville will play at Eastern (Pekin) today.