ALTAMONT — South Central has held a share of the National Trail Conference regular season title for the last two years, and advanced to last year’s championship before falling to St. Anthony.
History had a chance to repeat itself Saturday in Altamont, but the second-seeded Cougars prevailed behind some early offense and a strong pitching performance by Tyler Ross in a 3-2 win over fourth-seeded St. Anthony Saturday.
The Cougars’ first four batters reached in the game and three scored. Those would be the only three, but they would be enough as Ross held the Bulldogs at bay all afternoon.
“I’m happy for the seniors, I’m happy for Tyler, who has struggled at times,” said South Central coach Curt Jones. “Today, he stepped up and he didn’t really have that inning that seems to bite him.”
St. Anthony had one last chance late in the game, cutting a 3-1 lead to 3-2 in the sixth on an Alex Hoelscher RBI single. The Bulldogs loaded up the bases with two outs on a bloop single by Scott Rentfrow and a walk by Zach Gardewine.
With speedy Jacob Lorenz at the plate, Jones visited his southpaw on the mound. The mound visit paid off as Ross got Lorenz to lift a fly ball to center to Dre Hill for the final out of the inning.
Ross would go on to get the heart of the Bulldog order in the seventh 1-2-3, clinching the title, South Central’s first NTC tournament championship since joining the conference in 2012 from the Midland Trail Conference.
“He said ‘I need to calm down,’”Jones said of the mound visit. “I used my last trip, and we’re here to calm down. He did.”
St. Anthony grabbed a run in the first inning when Lorenz was hit by a pitch and came around to score on a two-out RBI single by Braden Puckett.