By Steve Joos.
It’s the last week of the South Gibson Babe Ruth League’s regular season and two Posey County teams are in the thick of the title chase.
North Posey Black and St. Wendel are among the top four teams battling for a first-round bye in the upcoming league tournament at Owensville, while North Posey Red hopes to get as close as possible and keep improving in time for the postseason tourney.
Jared Hostettler dropped a one-out single in center field Saturday night, scoring Christian Jones with the winning run as Black edged visiting Haubstadt Legion 6-5 in eight innings.
“I think we played a real good game against a real good team right there,” Black coach Damien Word said. “We came out on top against them.”
A walk here and a hit dropping there led to a 5-5 tie at the end of regulation as Legion overcame a 5-3 Black lead heading into the top of the seventh inning. Jones pitched a good game and Word thought he was getting squeezed, but that’s baseball, Word said, adding that Andy Herrmann caught all eight innings on a hot day, so Black especially earned the win.
Jones walked to open the bottom of the eighth, and then stole his way to third before Austin Graves drew a walk and James Marshall was given an intentional pass. With one out, Hostettler lifted a fly ball into center field that was deep enough to score Jones on a sacrifice fly, but dropped in front of the Legion center fielder for the game-winning RBI.
“I’ve been saying all year that the top of our order, one through three, we run the bases better than anybody in the league,” Word said. “If we can get on, we usually can get a run. If they can find a way to third, our four, five and six guys can finds a way to get them in.”
Black took an 8-6 record into Monday’s game at Princeton Red. St. Wendel was 9-5 going into their game at Haubstadt against Legion, which also has five losses, while VFW has four.
Word is still looking to win the league and it hoping for some help from the Fort Branch team before their rematch on Wednesday.
After run rule wins over Owensville and Princeton White, Word has also been able to rest his pitchers and have them ready for the stretch run.
Blake Dillman’s bases-loaded double in the third inning enabled Black to tie the game at 2-2, while Jones and Marshall both hit the ball well Saturday. Graves was also on base, while Herrmann had a single.
Despite leaving the bases loaded in the first two innings, Word felt that his team was able to wear down the Legion hurlers and that helped Black get back into the game.
Jones and Ethan Morlock combined to help pitch Black past Princeton White Wednesday night 16-4, in five innings.
Hostettler and Graves each cleared the bases with doubles, while Morlock tripled with the sacks juiced to give Black nine of its 16 runs. Marshall and Tyler Wright each had two hits, while Herrmann also singled.
Black knocked out Princeton White’s top two pitchers with an eight run third inning, where Graves, Marshall and Morlock each delivered bases-loaded hits and Black sent 19 batters to the plate.
St. Wendel snapped back from an 11-7 loss at the hands of Owensville Wednesday night to pound Princeton White 14-3 on the road Saturday.
“We played good,” Josh Elpers, shortstop for St. Wendel, said. “We made some mistakes, but we played good. We had solid hitting.”
Derek Lindauer and Jake Wenderoth each had two hits, while Damon Cardin added a clutch single. Lindauer doubled, while Wenderoth smacked a double and a triple.
St. Wendel erupted for four runs in the top of the seventh to go up 7-1 and put the game out of reach.
Elpers said that the team has to win each of its remaining games in order to stay in the hunt for a first-round bye.
Black celebrated Word’s birthday two different ways last week, spraying the coach with silly string after bombarding Owensville 12-2 in five innings under 10-run rule at the North Posey High School baseball field.
“We took care of business tonight,” Word said. “Saturday, (June 9) was just an off day for us, I thought we’d really been playing good ball and I thought we played good ball again tonight, We bunted the ball well, our pitching was really good, Kaynin Capps came in and gave us three good innings out of our bullpen. Everybody contributed tonight.”
Black plated six runs in the first two innings and then hung another four spot on Oakland City after it scored twice in the top of the fourth, and then they closed things out with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fidth.
Other than the top of the fourth inning, Black hurlers threw the ball well, although Graves struggled after a hit and five walks resulted in two runs in the top of the fourth.
But Black got those runs back in the bottom of the fourth on a walk to Jones, a bunt single by Graves, and a single by Marshall.
Dillman tripled and ended the game with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth inning which scored Graves, who had walked, stolen second and moved to third on an infield hit by Hostettler. Jones smacked a pair of triples, while Marshall and Hostettler each had singles, with Marshall collecting a pair of RBIs. Graves was on base four times, while Andy Herrmann doubled out of the seventh hole in the battling order.
After avenging an early loss to Oakland City with a win at Oakland City, Red battled back from a big early deficit, but didn’t have enough to overtake visiting Fort Branch VFW and lost 17-13.
“I was really pleased with the way we came back,” Voegel said. “In the fourth inning, we went down 14-3, but we came back and put up six in the bottom of the fifth. We were looking at a run rule, but we put up sixth and extended the game.”
The game ended with the bases loaded and the neat of the Red lineup at the plate. Voegel was pleased that his team didn’t quit, but was once again disappointed with the defense and some base running.
He still saw improvement, but the defense put Red into a hole. The VFW leadoff man reached on an error to open the game and that came back to haunt Red when the Fort Branch squad scored six runs with two gone.
“You could have gotten out of the first inning with no runs, but we had that error,” coach Zach Voegel said. “That’s an inning you could have gotten out of with no runs and you gave up six, and in a four-run game, that means a lot.”
VFW relaxed after the first inning and then cleared the bench, which helped Red make things interesting before the regulars came back.
Coonor Voegel singled, as did Caleb O’Risky, Michael Sims and Bo Cox, while Zac Stoneberger collected two hits and Dalton Rankin three.
“We’ve just got to keep getting better going into the tournament,” Voegel said. “At this point, we’re obviously not going to win the tournament, but we’ve got a chance in the tournament.”
Cox went the distance as Red avenged its home-field loss to Oakland City with an 11-1 romp in five innings. Cox fanned six while tossing a two-hitter, and helped his own cause with a two-run triple in the bottom of the third inning.
That erased a 1-0 Oakland City lead. Rankin tripled in two more runs, while Dylan Ranking and Grant Scheller each had hits.
Big innings were the big downfall for Red last week as they dropped an 18-8 decision to visiting Oakland City.
Two runs in the first inning, five in the second and four each in the fourth and fifth frames did in Red, as Oakland City failed in score in just one inning, the third.
What was Oakland City doing to cause so much trouble for Red?
“It wasn’t so much what they did as much what we did,” Voegel said. “We played pretty poor defense. This time of the year, you expect more from your defense. Our pitchers didn’t too badly of a job getting ground balls today. You get ground balls to infielders, you expect to get outs and we didn’t get outs.”
The five-run second inning broke a 2-2 tie and Red showed signs offensively, but they also left 11 runners on base and scoring eight runs just wasn’t enough.
Cox had three hits on the evening.
By Steve Joos.
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