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Bulldogs shred Rebels in sectional

Bulldogs shred Rebels in sectional
Bulldogs shred Rebels in sectional
South Central senior shortstop Wesley Wilson tries to charge an infield grounder, but he overruns the ball, allowing it to pass him and go into the outfield. The error was one of two committed by Wilson as the Rebels’ season ended at the paws of Orleans in the sectional semifinals. Photo by Brandon Miniard
Brandon Miniard, Contributing Writer

While Memorial Day was accompanied by an abnormal morning chill for this time of year, the skies were otherwise clear and bright as South Central hosted the semifinals for the Indiana High School Athletic Association Class 1A Baseball Sectional 61.

The Rebels came into the contest as the defending sectional champions after winning the tournament in 2019. Before trying to win consecutive titles since winning four straight in 2010 to 2014, the Rebels first had to go through Orleans, a task that would prove more difficult than expected.

While both sides posted a scoreless first, the Rebels began to falter in the second after Ian Hall reached on a bloop single. The Bulldogs’ shortstop eventually made it to third before scoring on a wild pitch from Rebels’ senior right-hander Frank Goodman. A fielding error by senior shortstop Wesley Wilson gave way to a second run to give the Bulldogs an early 2-0 lead.

The two-run second was only a prelude of what was to come as the Rebels faltered defensively in the third. A dropped infield pop-up and a wild throw from sophomore catcher Ty Jones helped fuel the Bulldogs toward another four runs. The three errors in as many innings were only part of an abysmal day as the Rebels’ defense committed five miscues on the day.

“All season long, we’ve been fairly solid defensively,” co-coach Brad Wiseman said. “I don’t know if we just got caught up in the moment or what, but we just kind of let things snowball on us.”

The Rebels’ offense was hardly any less stagnant, squandering multiple scoring opportunities. Their best chance to get a rally going came in the bottom of the fifth when freshman outfielder Ronnie Renn reached on a one-out single. After advancing on a balk, Renn was allowed to trot home when a potential throw to third was instead airmailed over the fence onto the nearby track.

The run made little difference, especially when the Bulldogs scored three runs in the seventh en route to an emphatic 11-1 victory, ending the Rebels’ season on their own field. Until sophomore outfielder Craig Simpson struck out to end the game, Wiseman had confidence that his Rebels could rise up at any time.

“We have eight come-from-behind wins this year of more than two or three runs. We’ve been down five runs and came back, so I wasn’t worried,” Wiseman said. “As crazy as this sounds, going into the last inning down 11-1, I still felt like we had an opportunity because this team has never quit.”

With the loss, the Rebels conclude their season at 10-17. Their overall record doesn’t tell the whole story as they finished second in the Southern Athletic Conference at 4-1. Part of that can be attributed to the efforts of their five-man senior class, led by Wesley, who finished among the state leaders with 50 stolen bases.

“I think we showed up not really prepared mentally, and (Orleans) hit the ball at us expecting to make errors,” Wilson said. “This season has been big because we obviously didn’t have a season (last year). So for us seniors, because we didn’t play our junior year, this was our last year to play.”

Along with Wilson, the Rebels also say farewell to Goodman, outfielder Dylan Nance, pitcher/first baseman Cameron Bledsoe and utility man Evan Schoen. While the Rebels begin the long wait for the future, the Bulldogs advanced to the sectional championship, where they fell to eventual champion Borden 3-0. The Braves made it to the title game after overwhelming Lanesville 18-1.

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