KINMUNDY – After a lead-off single in the bottom of the fourth inning, South Central's Brett Harmeier was called out on a bunt attempt for being outside of the batters box and it looked like it might be another scoreless inning.
That wasn't the case, though, as Kerrigan Henken reached base after the violation and both base runners advanced on a throwing error by Webber Township catcher Austin Gowler.
South Central's Gavin Ratermann struck out, but Dylan Smith's two-out single opened the floodgates for a nine-run inning that led to South Central's 11-1 win Wednesday night.
Webber Township pitcher Logan Ganieany walked Noah Powless to load the bases for Kyle Bray, who hit a two-RBI single through the right side of the infield.
“Sometimes it just takes that one hit and all of a sudden everyone relaxes and, bang, away you go,” South Central head coach Curt Jones said. “Kyle getting that ball through the right side was where we took off.”
Powless, Bray and the next four batters came around to score in the inning, as Webber Township put two other pitchers on the mound after taking out the starter, Ganieany, with two outs in the inning.
“He got a little tired and left some off-speed pitches up,” Webber Township head coach Sam Root said.
Ganieany left the game with two runners on base and reliever Chris Bush couldn't get either of the four batters he faced out.
Against Bush, Tyus Holmes reached base on a dropped third strike to keep the inning going. Dre Hill and Harmeier, who was up for the second time in the inning, hit doubles that brought runners in to score.
Bush walked Henken before Root replaced him, having given up two hits and three runs. Gage Raudenbush entered the game, trying to get the last out.
Ratermann, who was one of the five players to bat twice in the inning, reached on an error by shortstop Zane Austin, which scored the ninth run in the inning. Smith, who started the inning with the first RBI, popped out to the centerfielder.
“We gave (South Central) several more breaks than they gave us,” Root said. “I thought we were very un-fundamental defensively and we were unwilling to change.”
Webber Township had its chance to tie the game in the top of the fourth inning trailing 2-1, but Mark Knepler and Corey Hammer failed to drive in Gowler from third base with one out.
Root said he was disappointed that neither Knepler nor Hammer could get good contact on a ball to score Gowler. Knepler grounded out to the first basemen, who watched Gowler back to third base as he stepped on the bag for the second out. Then, Hammer struck out to end the inning.
“There was one out and you have to put a better swing on the ball,” Root said. “Tip your cap to (South Central). Their pitcher made a quality pitch.”
South Central pitcher Tyler Ross was the reason Webber Township had a runner in scoring position in the fourth inning, which Root said was a “little break.” Ross overthrew the first basemen on a pickoff attempt, which allowed Gowler to reach third base on the wild throw.
Ross took care of Webber Township in the top of the fifth inning after two of the first three batters reached base. Lane Moser popped out to the right fielder to end the game.
Ross picked up the win, throwing a complete game and giving up only three hits, which Jones said is a sign that his pitcher is getting better after struggling with pitch location in the early innings.
South Central improved to 5-1 on the season with the win. The game was the first of a doubleheader, and statistics from the second game were not made available as of press time. The Cougars stay home for a game today against Odin at 7 p.m.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Webber Township 010 00 1 3 3South Central 200 9X 11 10 2
WP: Ross (5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 5 K, 3 BB) LP: Ganieany (3.2 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 3 K, 2 BB)Webber Township: Austin (2-3, 2 1B), Gowler (1-1, 1B, BB)South Central: Smith (2-4, RBI, 2B); Bray (2-3, 2 RBI); Ross (2-3, 3 RBI, 2B); Hill (2-3, RBI, 2B); Harmeier (1-3, 2 RBI, 2B); Holmes (RBI); Ratermann (RBI)