The South Greene baseball team was not ready for its season to be over on Thursday night as it rallied past Happy Valley to an 11-5 win in the play-in game of the District 1-2A Tournament.
“It’s great to extend the season,” Tillery said, “You could see that energy from the guys, and they are ready to keep going. It’s survive and advance now. Our seniors came ready tonight, and they didn’t want to go home. I’m proud of all of them.”
The Rebels were down 3-0 going into fifth inning and had only managed two hits to that point, but six big hits led to 10 runs in the side which proved to be enough to hold off the Warriors.
“Something just sparked for us, and the energy picked up,” Tillery said. “It was hitter after hitter. These guys never gave up. I think that fight has always been in us, sometimes it just takes a while to come out.”
South Greene now moves to play top-seed Chuckey-Doak on Friday in the tournament’s quarterfinals. The Rebels have played the Black Knights as close as anybody in the district, but Tillery feels they will need to hit the ball better to get over the hump.
“I think we just have to put the ball in play, we’ve struggle to do that against them. If we can string together some runs we can make it a ball game,” Tillery said.
The bottom of the fifth inning started with South Greene trailing 3-0 when T.J. Buckner took the first pitch Andrew Little delivered and hammered it deep into the left-center gap. The ball kept rolling to the fence and Buckner legged it into a stand-up triple to fire up the Rebels.
“That hit was huge, and everybody loves T.J. When they see him get going I think it definitely rallies everybody else,” Tillery said.
Seth Franklin was hit by a pitch and Cody Rambo put down a sacrifice bunt that scored Buckner. Little fielded the ball from the mound, but threw it away which put Franklin’s courtesy runner, Levi Treadway, on third and Rambo on second.
Alec Jones followed with another sacrifice bunt that scored Treadway, but caught Rambo at the plate after Jones reached first safely.
Dustin Crum lined a shot into left field that scored Jones and tied the game at 3-3.
Jesse Lawing then came to the plate with the bases loaded and quickly cleared them when his three-RBI double sailed into the left-center gap and just kept rolling.
Buckner got back up again in the side and kept things rolling when he dropped a pop fly behind first base and turned it into a double before the Warriors could wrangle the ball.
Rambo got a fly ball to fall in the right-center gap to score two more runs before Jones knocked him in for a 10-3 lead.
Happy Valley tried to mount a two-out rally in the top of the sixth inning. The Warriors used three walks, six stolen bases and an error to score two runs in the side which closed the gap to 10-5.
The final run of the night crossed in the bottom of the sixth. Tucker Brown dropped a single into centerfield to get things going, and a failed pickoff attempt moved him to third. Hayden Hartman then laid down a bunt to score Brown.
Hartman earned the win in relief for the Rebels. He threw four innings with 10 strikeouts, five walks and one hit allowed.
“Hartman was huge for us. I think the change of speed helped out a little bit, and it was good to see a senior come in and get the win.” Tillery said. “We put it on his shoulders and he was ready for it.”
Happy Valley started the day’s scoring with three runs in the top of the first inning. Little led off the game with a single over the shortstop and Tucker Shoun followed with a line drive through the right side that scored the first run.
Hunter Smith then sent an RBI single into left field before Drew Blevins put a double deep into the left-center gap for a 3-0 lead.
Buckner led the Rebels at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a triple, double, two runs scored and one RBI.
Crum was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Brown was 2-for-4, Lawing was 1-for-4 with a double and three RBIs, and Rambo was 1-for-2 with three RBIs.