Tiger Cub baseball drops a thriller, 11-10
CLINTON -- Anyone expecting a pitcher's duel at the second semifinal of the South Vermillion baseball sectional was sadly mistaken. With Greencastle and South Vermillion having already squared off once this season, a 9-7 victory for the Wildcats, the two squads already knew what the other was capable of.
It would take every bit of that knowledge for the hosts to squeak out a second win over the guests, as Greencastle's season ended with an 11-10 loss.
The runs started in early and seemingly never stopped. Unfortunately, so did the errors.
"We gave up too many runs," Greencastle coach Troy Remsburg put bluntly. "We had too many errors. There were some goofy strikeouts throughout the game."
The mayhem began early as Andy Bell put in another excellent game, starting off things with a bloop single. He was ruled out at first when Ryan Battin hit it back to the pitcher's mound. Keegan Remsburg would then hit a shot to short right, but the right fielder missed the catch.
That allowed Remsburg to reach safely, but Battin had to rush to second as he couldn't leave first. Patrick Richardson was next to benefit from shaky Wildcat defending when he hit a high pop-up that wound up dropping for a single.
Landon Miller would ground out to the shortstop but score Battin to move the Tiger Cubs in front 1-0 before South Vermillion could end the threat.
The hosts answered in turn. What looked to be a double play ball hit to Bell went awry when Jesse Vermillion sailed the throw to first. A single from the next batter would plate a run to level the game at 1-1.
Greencastle would take the lead right back. Hunter Mitchell singled after a strikeout before Bell hammered a two-run shot over the left-center field wall. Battin would get on base, but was picked off of first, meaning Remsburg's fly ball to center would end the inning.
South Vermillion responded with two more in the second. An error and a hit batsman got men onto first and second. Two outs were recorded by Remsburg before a walk loaded the bases. Ahead in the count against Scott Johansen, Remsburg left one over the plate that the center fielder would smash, plating two to tie the game again at 3-3.
The Tiger Cubs grabbed another run in the top of the third when Miller reached on a double. He would score when a Kyle Johnson grounder to the mound was overthrown by South Vermillion pitcher Dylan Reyher to first.
The Wildcats got that run back when Vance Blake reached first on a throwing error. Kaden Lawson then smoked a double to plate the third baseman and tie the score yet again at 4-4.
The fourth inning looked promising for the Tiger Cubs as Mitchell led off with a single, followed by Bell's second single of the contest. An infield fly out went awry when Lawson didn't catch the ball, allowing Mitchell and Bell to move up. Remsburg grounded to short, but Mitchell was off on contact and was thrown out by some distance at the plate.
After the Greencastle attack broke down, the Wildcat bats lit up the scoreboard.
Reyher matched Bell's two run shot to grab a 6-4 lead. Two walks and two strikeouts later, a single by Josh Vaughn would tack on a third run. A double by Tre Streyer would plate two more to blow the game open at 9-4.
Or, so everyone thought.
Miller started the fifth with a ground rule double, but was stranded at third when no one behind him could mount any offense. South Vermillion chased out Remsburg only to go down in order to Battin, who was not coach Remsburg's original first choice.
"Keegan was still a little tired from Wednesday," the elder Remsburg noted. "(Jesse) Vermillion was sick and didn't seem to be able to throw the ball well, so we went with Battin. It's the first time we've used him in about three or four weeks."
Stalling the hosts allowed for the Tiger Cubs to reenter the fray with a five-run sixth. Mitchell started off with a walk and Bell hit his third single of the day. After Battin flew out to short center, Remsburg smacked a two-run double to make it 9-6.
Joe Lenihan then stepped in and swatted a single that tacked on a third run in the inning before Miller stepped up and hit the Tiger Cubs' second two run homer of the game, tying the score 9-9 and sending the guests and their fans into a frenzy.
But before they could settle, the Wildcats regained the lead. New pitcher Cody Mumaw smacked a double before Blake brought him home with an RBI single. Blake stole second, but was nailed at third when an errant pitch didn't stray far enough away from Kyle Johnson and the catcher sent a perfect throw to Natanial Valasquez at third to tag out the runner.
Greencastle kept hopes alive with some help from the hosts. Bell reached for the fifth time in the contest when he was hit on a 3-2 count. A single by Remsburg sent Bell towards third after Johansen misplayed the ball in the outfield. His throw went to third and Remsburg ran to second, only to watch the throw from Blake at third go wayward, allowing Bell to score to tie the contest for the final time at 10-10.
The Tiger Cubs, however, would hand the game to the Wildcats in a similar fashion. A walk to designated hitter Phillip Harpenau, who had not reached prior to that at bat, allowed for pinch runner Seth Dickie to stand at first. Dickie stole second before Rehyer grounded weakly to Vermillion.
Vermillion had problems fielding the ball and his throw to first went wide, allowing Dickie to scramble home and sending the home side into jubilations as the Wildcats would move on to the sectional final with an 11-10 win.
While certainly disappointed with the outcome, coach Remsburg admired his squad's grit and determination.
"The scoreboard doesn't show it, but I thought the better team lost today," Remsburg said. "There were some balls that should have been caught today. I don't know if it was the conditions, if we were tired, or what the deal was today. Our hitting was fine today, but our defense showed up late."
"Kyle Johnson was tough today," Remsburg mentioned when asked about his seniors, as in the course of the game Johnson took a pitch in the dirt that kicked up to his throat. "He's the kind of guy that'd have to lose an arm or a leg before we could drag him off the field. He plays no matter what."
"Pat Richardson was hitting the ball well this year," Remsburg pointed out about his other senior. "In the last three or four games he had been hitting line drives. Today he was off, but that's one of those things in baseball. Sometimes things are good, sometimes they are bad."
As storm clouds began to roll in, Remsburg briefly reflected on the year.
"The guys battled all season. Our record should be better, but it was a rebuilding year. The kids stepped up, playing in new positions and playing with a lot of heart."
At South Vermillion
IHSAA 3A Sectional 29 (South Vermillion HS)
Greencastle 121 005 1 - 10 13 5
South Vermillion 121 501 1 - 11 11 7
WP - Mumaw
LP - Battin
2B - Johansen, Lawson, Strayer, Mumaw (SV), Miller (2), Remsburg (G)
HR - Reyher (SV), Bell, Miller (G)
RBI - Reyher (2), Blake (2), Strayer (2), Johansen (2), Lawson, Vaughn (SV), Miller (3), Bell (2), Remsburg (2), Lenihan (G)