South Putnam came back after the break and played a controlled game that resulted in the Eagles capturing the Class 2A No. 46 sectional title.
The Eagles went with their ace Noah Boswell and the senior didn't disappoint. Boswell held the Cadets to four hits and recorded nine strikeouts on the evening. He also knocked in the tying run in the top of the fifth inning.
Going into the biggest game of the season thus far, South Putnam head coach Troy Burgess knew he had the right man for the job. Boswell has been the Eagles' go-to guy all season and Tuesday was no exception.
"That was huge," a beaming Burgess said. "I tell you what though, I've been doing this (coaching) 21 years and there's nobody in 21 years that I'd want any more that Noah Boswell with the ball in his hand. Whether that'd be football as a quarterback, a basketball when I coached basketball -- in a pressure situation in a game like this, there's nobody I'd rather have in control than that guy right there.
"He's done it all year long and pitched a heck of a game," he added.
The Eagles watched as their 1-0 lead evaporated in the bottom of the third when Cascade starting pitcher Connor Guthrie drove in two runs with a long drive to right field. Instead of backing down, South Putnam rolled up its sleeves, went to work and made it happen in the fifth inning.
After Boswell tied the game with a hit to center field, sophomore catcher Brayden Freeman hit a game-winning scorcher past short stop Chris Mink to score Grant Zimmerman.
It might be Speedway's home field, but the Eagles made it their playground. Even with less than ideal conditions, South Putnam committed no errors and we able to do damage at the plate when needed.
"Defensively, under these conditions, I don't think we had an error tonight. Defensively, were played outstanding," Burgess emphasized. "We hit the ball well, we produced runs when we needed to. It was a great effort from top to bottom, but ... what can you say? You put that guy on the mound and good things are going to happen."
South Putnam and Cascade had faced each other three times in the regular season, with the Cadets holding a 3-0 advantage. Burgess had told his team the moment might come when they faced off in the sectional and reiterated the need to remain mentally tough. When adversity reared its head Tuesday, the Eagles were more than ready.
"We talked about it from day one," Burgess acknowledged. "When these guys beat us three times in the first two weeks of the season, you remember that feeling. The thing we've done, every time we've had a rain delay or we've had a game postponed, we've talked about it. We have to stay mentally tough.
"We came back after that rain delay, they got on us, got a couple of runs, but man, we didn't back down. The kids continued to fight and I can't say enough about them," Burgess said.
The win was sweet for all members of the team, but it was something really special for others. Senior Josh Flory made his way to the sectional trophy, hoisted it in the air with tears in his eyes and proceeded to kiss the hardware like a beloved child. A satisfied grin plastered on his face.
The Eagles earned their berth in the final with a 5-2 win over host Speedway Monday. Cameron Chestnut opened the game with a home run, with Drew Cash, Zimmerman and John Spencer adding a double each.
South Putnam will face Eastern Greene in the Austin Regional at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Class 2A No. 46 Sectional
South Putnam 010 020 0 -- 3 7 0
Cascade 002 000 0 -- 2 4 1
WP -- Boswell
LP -- Guthrie
2B -- Guthrie, Baldwin (CHS)
Next game -- South Putnam will face Eastern Greene in the Austin Regional at 11 a.m. Saturday.