The Spartans — now winners of eight of their last 10 games — earned a third straight win and a District 14 sweep with a hard-fought 6-5 victory over Warren Central on Wednesday evening at South Warren Ballpark.
“It’s the same thing every year (against Warren Central),” South Warren coach Gage said. “It’s a broken record. It’s always lose a game or it’s a tight game. It’s a battle every time.”
South Warren (21-6 overall, 8-1 District 14) built a 3-0 lead after two innings and soon tacked on another pair of runs in the third to put Warren Central (5-16, 0-9) in an early 5-0 hole.
The Dragons responded with a four-run fourth — courtesy of a grand slam from DC Rigsby — to get within 5-4 and later tied it at 5-all in the fifth. That same score remained throughout the sixth, but the Spartans ultimately scored the game-winning run on an error off a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the seventh to walk off with another district win.
“(Warren Central) coach (Adam) Biller deserves a lot of credit for what he did with that team and the whole program, really,” Gage said. “Their team really competed. The first game was 2-1 in the fifth inning and, of course, this game was tight in the seventh inning. I think they’ve done a tremendous job over there.”
After a scoreless opening inning, South Warren’s bats got going in the second.
Following a double from Adam Burns and single from Caleb Lloyd, Mason Day layed down a perfect bunt to reach first and score Burns. An RBI single by Scotty Miller, followed by Trent Rice’s sacrifice flyout, gave the Spartans a 3-0 lead after two.
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A two-run home run from Tyler Martin in the ensuing inning pushed South’s advantage to 5-0. With Sam Gage on after being walked, Martin took a hard swing at a pitch that came directly down the middle and sent it over the wall in right center to put Warren Central into a deeper hole.
The Dragons fired right back in the top of the fourth, using Rigsby’s grand slam to get all the way within 5-4. With two outs — and two strikes — Rigsby sent a pitch over the left field wall to empty the bases and give Central plenty of life.
“The mindset was off,” Lloyd said. “We were up 5-0 and then one swing of the bat and they were right back in it. We just had to stay locked in.”
Warren Central knotted things at 5-all in the top of the fifth. With two on and one out, Jordan Lindsey singled to score a runner and push the Dragons’ number of unanswered runs to five.
After a scoreless sixth and a 1-2-3 frame for Central’s offense in the top of the seventh, Lloyd began the bottom of the seventh with a single to give South Warren a baserunner. In the next at-bat, Day bunted and reached on a throwing error, which allowed Lloyd to cross the plate and send the Spartans out victorious.
“Leading off the inning, I just had confidence,” said Lloyd. “I had confidence to just get on base and have confidence in the offense behind me to get the work done and get me home — and that’s exactly what happened.”
Both teams return to action Saturday as South Warren hosts Pleasure Ridge Park at 5:30 p.m. and Warren Central travels to Grayson County for a 6 p.m. first pitch.