Spartans walk-off against Gators; Purples shutout Dragons in semifinals

When it looked as if Greenwood would be recording an upset and extending its season another day, South Warren had other plans.

Once down 6-2 after four-and-a-half innings, the No. 2 seeded Spartans regrouped, kept their composure and scored five unanswered runs to earn a 7-6 come-from-behind, walk-off win over the third-seeded Gators in the District 14 Baseball Tournament semifinals on Tuesday night at Harold J. Stahl Field.

Trailing 6-5 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, South Warren – the home team on the scoreboard – took advantage of a Greenwood fielding error and scored two runs as a result to cap the victory in walk-off fashion.

“I’ve liked the fight in our guys all year long,” South Warren head coach Chris Gage said. “This is the team I’ve seen most of the year that has a lot of resolve — and they answered on the biggest stage.”

The two sides played three scoreless innings before the Spartans (26-11, 10-3 District 14) scored the first two runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Gators (20-11, 7-6) responded by unloading for six runs in the top of the fifth to build its 6-2 lead, but South fired right back with a three-run frame to keep itself in it – and it paid off in the end.

With the Spartans’ win, they’ll now meet top-seeded Bowling Green at 6 p.m. Wednesday for the District 14 championship and will also participate in next week’s Region 4 Tournament.

“It feels great,” South Warren catcher Trent Rice said. “By getting this dub we get to play in region and that’s a really big thing, but we’ve got the district (championship) tomorrow and BG is a great game. It’s gonna be really good competition tomorrow.”

After three-and-a-half innings of scoreless baseball, South Warren was able to find the breakthrough in the bottom of the fourth.

With courtesy runner Pierre Graves on for Tyler Martin after hitting a single – and with two outs on the board, Cade Vernon stepped to the plate and delivered a single into right field to score Graves and give the Spartans a 1-0 lead. In the next at-bat, Karsten Turner hit a pop fly, reached on an error and another runner scored in the process to make it 2-0.

Greenwood immediately responded with a momentum-swinging six-run frame.

“When we got the two-run lead I felt pretty good because usually if you score first in these games you’re in good shape, but Greenwood came right back with a put a six-spot on us,” Gage said. “Every coach in the region will tell you they swing the bat really, really well, so you’re never gonna feel comfortable with a lead — and they proved it right there.”

Trailing by a pair of runs, the Gators quickly sent two across the plate with an RBI triple from Dell Henk and a passed ball that scored a runner from third to even things at 2-all with just one out to open the set.

With the bases loaded and the scoreboard knotted up, Lance Upright sent a triple into right to empty the bases – and Ethan Gregory singled in the next at-bat to plate another run and suddenly make it 6-2 Greenwood and dig South Warren into a hole.

South Warren didn’t give up.

Once down four, a two-run home run by Trent Rice quickly cut the Spartans’ deficit to just 6-4 with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Soon after Martin and Adam Burns both recorded singles, Caleb Lloyd laid down one of his own to send Martin home and bring South within 6-5 entering the sixth.

After both sides went scoreless in the sixth and Greenwood didn’t get anything going in the top of the seventh, South Warren was able to close things out in the bottom frame.

With the bases loaded following a walk, a hit-by-pitch and a single, Vernon stepped to the plate and hit an infield ground ball to the second base area. While the Gators’ second baseman attempted to make the throw over to first and record the out, the toss went by the first baseman and two runs were able to score and send the Spartans out on top.

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“I’m proud of ’em,” Greenwood head coach Jason Jaggers said of his team. “They played hard, they worked hard … it just didn’t work out. Unbelievable group that worked hard all year long. Nobody gave us a shot. I just hate to see it come to a close.”

GHS –     0 0 0 0 6 0 0 – 6

SWHS –  0 0 0 2 3 0 2 – 7

Bowling Green shuts out Warren Central to advance to title game

Bowling Green will play Wednesday for a district title.

The Purples – the top seed in the District 14 Baseball Tournament – earned an 8-0 win over fifth-seeded Warren Central on Tuesday evening at Harold J. Stahl Field to earn a spot in Wednesday’s championship and punch a ticket to next week’s Region 4 Tournament.

BGHS (27-10 overall, 11-2 District 14) built a quick 2-0 lead after the opening inning and extended it to 7-0 after three to put the Dragons (9-21, 1-13) – who upset fourth-seeded Warren East in Monday’s opening round – away and didn’t look back.

“At this point, it’s survive and advance,” Bowling Green head coach Nathan Isenberg said. “Whatever it takes. All the records are out the window. I told the guys, ‘Don’t play the jersey, play the game and do the little things.’ That’s what we did.”

The Purples will meet second-seeded South Warren at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the district final at Stahl Field.

Bowling Green struck first in the bottom of the first with a pair of RBI sacrifice fly outs. After Eli Burwash and Evan Spader each reached on walks, Joe Howard and Jackson Haga followed up with two straight sac fly outs to score a pair of runners and give the Purples a 2-0 lead after one.

Spader’s RBI single in the second put Bowling Green up 3-0 before it caught fire in the ensuing frame.

“We’re the seeing the ball really well,” Bowling Green pitcher Geoffrey Ross, who also tossed eight strikeouts, said. “We’re fast and we can all lay bunts down, so that helps a lot.”

Behind four hits and a walk, the Purples unloaded for four runs to build a 7-0 advantage. Following three straight singles from Haga, Ross and Carson Kelley, Bo Morton sent a double into left field to plate three runs. Another runner soon crossed home on a passed ball to dig Warren Central into an even deeper hole – and the Dragons wouldn’t be able to overcome it.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Warren Central head coach Adam Biller said. “We came out and battled and competed today. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.”

WCHS –  0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0

BGHS –   2 1 4 0 0 1 X – 8

Tyler Mansfield@ByMansfield

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