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Rebels get ‘Hank Strong’

Rebels get ‘Hank Strong’
Rebels get ‘Hank Strong’
The family of Hank Sutherland is recognized before South Central hosted Borden on Saturday. Teams raised money for "Hank Strong" who lives with Alpers disease. Photos by Brian Smith
Brian Smith, Sports Editor

South Central’s last meeting with Borden came in the Class 1A Sectional championship a year ago with Borden punching a ticket to regional with a shut-out victory.
Although rivals on the field, the Southern Athletic Conference squads came together on a cool and overcast Saturday in Elizabeth not only for baseball, but to support a local child living with Alpers disease, a rare neurological disorder.
The ‘Hank Strong’ theme brought the two teams together to raise money in honor of Hank Sutherland. South Central traded in its traditional uniform for green T-shirts and ‘Alpers Awareness’ written on the back along with a graphic of a flexed muscle on the sleeve. Borden joined in as well, wearing similar shirts but in black with green outlined letters.
With the Sutherland family honored before the game, Hank’s brother, Bryton Sutherland, zipped a ceremonial first pitch to South Central catcher Chase Schoen.
‘They are a local family, and my heart goes out to them,’ South Central co-coach Brad Wiseman said. ‘We got hold of his family and mentioned we’d love to do a game to honor Hank and raise some money.’
Borden was happy to jump on board.
‘It seemed like a good fit for our guys to reach out in the community and help out,’ Wiseman said. ‘I was happy to see our guys get something out of it.’
On the field, South Central used a pair of big innings in the fifth and sixth to defeat Borden 13-6. Part of a doubleheader, game one win went toward the SAC standings, where both teams have one loss.
‘We found out last night the conference window is open, and we took advantage of it today,’ Brad Wiseman said. ‘We’ve had a few good days of practice in a row, despite being inside because of the rain. They’ve been focused and ready. We had a good BP session this morning, and it translated to the game.’
A week away from the Kentucky Derby across the Ohio River, South Central showed the ability to close from behind.
Borden had the lead on three different occasions while outhitting South Central 10-7. The difference proved to be the Braves left 10 runners on base while South Central found ways to use its speed to create scoring chances. Borden also committed six errors.
The top of one, Borden left the bases loaded but managed to get one run before the inning ended. Gavin Gentry had a lead-off single then later scored when Jonah Hall sliced an opposite-field single to left. South Central starting pitcher Zach Needler worked out of the jam by striking out Zach Knight on a full-count fastball.
South Central posted two runs in the bottom of the first, all coming with two outs. Wesley Wilson reached on a single before Borden lefty Gentry recorded two consecutive outs. Coming up with a two-out hit was Chase Schoen through the right side. Frank Goodman, the courtesy runner for South Central catcher Schoen, swiped two bases. A bad throw to third allowed Goodman to race home.
‘We have speed throughout our lineup,’ South Central co-coach Alex Wiseman said. ‘We are starting to find the nine that is working for us to put ourselves in position to put pressure on the other team. That’s what we did.’
South Central swiped a total of 10 bags.
Borden took back the lead in the second inning, kick-started by a Kyle Reynolds double. Borden later got back-to-back RBI singles from Kyle Leftwich and Nick Marcum to go up 4-2.
South Central answered quickly with two in the bottom of the second. A hit by Will Weber set up things. Needler reached on an infield error, allowing Weber to score. With two down, Austin Tyree drove in Needler to even the score at 4-all.
After a lengthy first two innings, both teams went through a rather quick third inning, which included Borden turning an inning-ending double play.
Borden used a watchful eye to create two runs in the fourth. Free passes to Gentry, Leftwich and Marcum were wrapped around a Mason LaGrange single.
Opting for a pitching change, South Central’s Wyatt Crosier came in and induced three straight fly balls. Jonah Hall’s turned out to be a sac fly RBI to bring in LaGrange, putting Borden up 6-4.
The rest of the way, South Central’s arms of Crosier, Cam Bledsoe and Chase Schoen shut out Borden.
‘We pitched well, and today was a total team effort,’ Alex Wiseman said. ‘We walk in a run-one inning, then Wyatt Crosier comes in and throws strikes. We get out of it and turn around with big innings.’
South Central scored one in the bottom of the fourth as Austin Tyree brought in Needler with a sac fly once Kyle Reynolds entered in relief.
It was the fifth inning where South Central did its most damage. Schoen opened with a single as nine players came to the dish in the frame. Stephen Sawicki reached on an infield single, then Ryan Steen drew a free pass. Weber and Needler brought around runs when they reached on infield errors. Tyree plated one run to make it 10-6 via ground out to shortstop LaGrange.
Two of the five runs to come in during the fifth were via wild pitches.
‘We have preached to them that if you put the ball in play, with the speed we have, we can put pressure on the other team,’ Brad Wiseman said. ‘They made some mistakes today, and we took advantage.’
South Central had only two hits in the bottom of the sixth but managed to score three insurance runs. Borden walked two batters and hit two more in the frame. Sawicki and Wesley Wilson had the hits, both legging out infield singles. Tyree brought in a run after being plunked as well.
‘Will Weber is leading our team in quality at bats,’ Brad Wiseman said. ‘His average is probably the seventh or eighth best, but it seems like he sees six to eight pitches every at bat. He’s been hitting the ball much harder. He sets the tone for us. When the guys see him battle, they follow.’
Borden’s Sam Gasper, Gentry and Reynolds had two hits apiece.
Schoen and Sawicki had two hits each for the winners. Tyree drove in three runs.
‘I’m proud of our guys,’ Brad Wiseman said. ‘They are maturing.’
Crosier earned the win in relief, while Reynolds was handed the loss.
In game two, the non-league affair, South Central won 3-2.
Crosier and Wilson had multi-hit games for the Rebels. It was Crosier drawing a hit by pitch in the bottom of the seventh to bring in the game-winning run.
LaGrange and Hall had two hits apiece in the second game for visiting Borden.

Borden 130 200 0 ‘ 6 11 6
South Central 220 153 x ‘ 13 7 1
W ‘ W. Crosier, L ‘ K. Reynolds.
2B ‘ K. Reynolds (B).

Borden 100 010 0 ‘ 2 8 2
South Central 101 000 1 ‘ 3 8 1
W ‘ C. Schoen, L ‘ M. LaGrange.
2B ‘ K. Leftwich (B).