Aggressive Raiders win on Gasser's walk-off

Photos by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
Southridge assistant coach Joe Keusch high fives Ethan Bell during Friday's baseball game in Huntingburg. Bell got the start on the mound for the Raiders in their 1-0 victory over Martha Layne Collins (Ky.). Bell pitched four scoreless innings and struck out four Titan batters while giving up just three hits and two walks. For more photos from the game, click here.

By HENDRIX MAGLEY
hmagley@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — For the third time in Friday night’s baseball game, the Southridge Raiders found themselves with the bases loaded.

However in the first two occurrences, in the second and fifth innings respectively, the Raiders were unable to take advantage of a tremendous opportunity against Martha Layne Collins (Ky.).

But with the game tied 0-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning and the winning run just 90 feet away, sophomore third baseman Camden Gasser dropped a bloop of a single that fell right in front of the Titans center fielder. Senior left fielder Patrick Sander scampered past home plate to send the Raiders home as winners for the first time this season on Friday evening at League Stadium.

“Obviously, I was just trying to get a hit but I honestly was just going to try and foul it off because it was an inside curveball,” said Gasser who was down to his final strike on the play. “But somehow I was able to get it down — that’s baseball.”

Sander got the Raider rally started by drawing a walk and then sophomore shortstop Colson Montgomery followed with his third single of the game to put runners on first and second.

With power-hitting sophomore catcher Chase Taylor up to bat, Sander advanced from second to third on a stolen base which forced the Titans to then put on Taylor with an intentional walk with just one out. After junior first baseman Connor Oxley struck out, Gasser came up to the plate and the rest is history.

“Basically, we know we’re always going to get a competitive at-bat with him up at the plate,” said Southridge head coach Gene Mattingly about Gasser. “We just expect a battle everytime he goes up there and that’s what he did.”

A play that may go overlooked in the top of the seventh inning is the stolen base by Sander, which ended up being the winning run for the Raiders (1-2).

Mattingly has preached that he wants the Raiders to be more aggressive this season and they’ve shown that they’re willing to take risks early.

“It’s fun when you’re coaching a bunch of really good athletes who like to run. Now, we just have to get them to trust it and really embrace the fact that we’re going to be really aggressive,” Mattingly said. “We’re going to make some mistakes but if we’re going to make them, we’re going to do it aggressively. Baserunning is about speed but it’s also about confidence and believe you can get what you see and they’re starting to buy into that.”

Another key component in Southridge’s victory was the work the pitchers put in on the mound. Sophomore starting pitcher Ethan Bell gave up just three hits and two walks while striking out four batters in four innings of work while junior reliever Weston Allen got the victory by pitching three scoreless innings of work while giving up two hits and striking out two.

Allen entered the scoreless game in the top of the fifth inning and made quick work of the Titan batters as he sat them down one-two-three. After repeating that same process in the sixth inning, the seventh went a little tougher.

Senior catcher Lucas Banta barely reached first base in time on a bunt single to start the inning which gave Martha Layne Collins (8-5) the potential winning run on base. However, Allen never let the runner reach any further than second base as he got three straight outs including a strikeout to end the inning.

Southridge's Camden Gasser watches anxiously from the dugout during Friday's baseball game in Huntingburg. Gasser won the game for the Raiders with a bases loaded, walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning. Gasser had three hits on the day for the Raiders. For more photos from the game, click here.

“I had some nerves going through me because I wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen when I went out there,” Allen said. “But I know I have a good team behind me, some of my closest friends playing behind me. No matter what was going to happen, we were going to be fine.”

Offensively, Colson Montgomery was 3-for-3 for the Raiders with three singles and a walk, Camden Gasser was 3-for-4 with three singles and an RBI while Chase Taylor and Cort Gerber both added singles.

Something that the Raiders were most happy about was seeing a big ol’ zero in the errors column on the scoreboard, especially after they had seven defensive errors in Thursday night’s 11-4 home loss to Castle.

The team has been trying to remind themselves to have a “next game” type of approach as they only look forward to whatever is next on the schedule, not reminiscing on what they could have done better in their past outings.

“You’re going to make errors, you’re going to strikeout — you just have to flush out whatever happened before,” Gasser said. “Tonight was a great night and I’m glad we got the win.”

Mattingly added: “They’re finding out who they are and they still have to figure it out — they’re not last year’s team, this is this year’s team. They have to find an identity and figure out how they’re going to go about their business.”




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