Corydon falls in pitcher’s duel
Pushing a run across the plate eluded the Corydon Central baseball team in the Class 3A North Harrison Sectional semi-final Saturday under a hot sun in Ramsey.
Opportunity after opportunity came up for the Panthers, but Charlestown pitcher Drew Reich was up to the challenge of escaping jams. Although Reich was on the wild side at times (nine walks, two hit batters), he was caught in a pitcher’s duel with Corydon Central ace Chase Burton.
‘We had chance after chance and couldn’t do it,’ Corydon Central coach Zach Sipes said. ‘We worked the last two days on manufacturing runs. If the first guy gets on, we bunt him over or hit a good, hard ground ball. We had too many chances today but didn’t come through.’
Corydon Central had at least one runner on in all but one inning, but Charlestown’s hit in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded closed the game with the lone run. Pirate hitter Jason Houchens hit a sharp ball to second baseman Joseph Mattingly’s right, forcing to dive and knock the ball down. With the bases loaded and one out, Houchens’ hit was good enough to score the game winner, Daniel Sprinkle from third.
Burton had walked only one batter going into the seventh but walked the bases loaded in the final frame. He did manage to cut down the lead runner when Sprinkle attempted to bunt Ryan Jones to second.
Walks to Reich and Colin Martin loaded the bases for Houchens to give the Pirates the 1-0 victory, advancing them to the final against Silver Creek.
‘The final inning we put guys on with walks and were in a tough situation,’ Sipes said. ‘A great play and we may have had a shot at the plate, but their kid did his job of putting the ball in play.’
Chances for the Panthers started in the opening inning. Reich hit lead-off batter Ethan Wright, but he was later thrown out attempting to steal second. Walks to Mitch Akers and Burton set the table for Aaron Arnold, who flew out.
Only one 1-2-3 inning was in the cards for Reich, coming in the second inning. He would walk three batters in the third but took advantage of a pick off at first to record an out before inducing an inning-ending fly-out off of Burton’s bat.
Arnold led off the fourth with a walk, followed by Corydon Central’s first hit, coming from Jordan Cockerham. A sacrifice attempt by Dalton Arnold went for not when Reich threw out the elder Arnold at third. A strikeout and another walk loaded the bases, but Corydon Central flew out to end the frame without a run.
‘We’ve struggled all year with getting those timely hits,’ Sipes said. ‘We did a good job against Brownstown (in the first round) getting hits, they weren’t necessarily timely hits, but we got 12 of them. Today, we didn’t get hits and definitely didn’t get timely hits.’
Corydon Central left one runner on in each of the final three innings as well. Cockerham accounted for both Corydon Central hits, the second coming as the lead-off in the sixth.
Burton was up to the task on the hill for the Panthers. He got in trouble in the opening inning, but a first-to-third double play turned from one Arnold (Dalton) to the other (Aaron) halted an early Pirates’ threat.
At one point, Burton recorded five straight outs by way of the ‘K.’ He finished with nine punch-outs.
‘Chase threw great,’ Sipes said. ‘His record was only 5-3 this year, but that doesn’t come close to represent what he did on the mound for us. He pitched a lot of tough ballgames and helped us win conference this year. I’m sure he’d love to have that seventh inning back, but they battled him to get on base.’
Sipes said the postseason meeting against Charlestown was similar to the regular season meeting, but vice versa.
‘Really, it flipped flop from our regular season meeting,’ he said. ‘They had a lot of chances to score runs and didn’t, and we got out of jams. Today, we had the chances and didn’t deliver. I told the Charlestown coach that our two games this season were two great high school baseball games. That’s all you can ask for. I wish we would have gotten this one though.’
No. 8-ranked Charlestown managed only three hits off Burton, who ends his stellar career as a Panther. Reich earned the win, improving to 9-0, striking out three.
The Pirates advanced to the sectional final, where they lost to Silver Creek, 13-1, in six innings.
Corydon Central finished the season with a 16-8 record, including winning the Mid-Southern Conference title.
The Panthers graduate Tyler Cato, Robbie Morrow, Mitch Akers, Aaron Arnold, Wright and Burton.