Bombers to play for OVL ChampionshipAugust 3, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — Near League Stadium's right field foul pole is the acknowledgement of the Dubois County Bombers as the 2015 and 2017 Ohio Valley League Champions.
Two more wins, and they can add 2021 to that.
The Bombers (30-18) enjoyed a come-from-behind, 7-3 victory against the Henderson Flash in front of their home fans to sweep the North Division Championship and advance to the Championship round. They saw some struggles at times during the regular season, but that was then and this is now.
"There's a lot on the line now - you lose, you go home," Bombers assistant coach Willie Poe said. "I think these guys aren't ready to go home yet."
Their bats couldn't get much of anything going through the first time in the order, and through the first three innings, nobody reached base before two outs.
They trailed, 1-0, heading into the bottom of the fifth, thanks to Henderson's Brandon Daniels launching a one-out, solo shot to left in the top of the second. However, Bombers starter Brennan Murphy held Henderson, and they finally capitalized.
Back-to-back one-out singles by Ben Wilcoxson and Tucker Schank put the Bombers in prime position to do something, and Schank took second on a wild pitch that eliminated the force out at second base. That allowed the opening for Drew Taylor, whose fly ball dropped in right field for a two-run double, giving the Bombers the lead for good.
However, they weren't done yet. Wilcoxson's RBI double brought in Payton Hall for an insurance run, and Schank's two-run single brought in Will Aubel and Wilcoxson for a 5-1 lead.
"I think we're seeing the ball really well right now," Poe said. "We've changed a little bit of what we do in batting practice before the game. I think that's helped guys hone in on their swing and have a better approach in the box."
Henderson showed in the top of the seventh that it wasn't done yet, however. The Flash loaded the bases with nobody out. Noah Nelson saw a blooper drop into the outfield that advanced Drew Dalton to third base. Mason "Butter" Landers came off the bag, even though the throw could've gotten Dalton had Landers stayed on the bag.
An infield conference on the mound convened after that.
"I'm just calming him down, slowing his heart rate down, just letting him know we believe in him," Poe said. "That's why he's out there, and focus back in, get some outs."
"(Poe) said, 'Let's get it together, let's go,' Murphy said.
The Bombers responded by turning in a 4-6-3 double play and a pop up, allowing a single run to come home for the Flash.
"Honestly it slipped my mind, but I realized I have a great defense behind me, and just...let them put the ball in play and good things will happen," Murphy said.
They then responded when Will Aubel doubled Mason White and also Hall to get that run back and add on another for a 7-2 lead.
No pitcher in the OVL recorded more wins than the six Murphy had during the regular season, and he added to another one on Tuesday. He attributed his effectiveness to being ready to compete every time he comes to the ballpark, and he went eight strong innings to earn the win that sent the Bombers to the OVL Championship round.
The distinction to get the final three outs belonged to Weston Allen. The Southridge graduate spent years toeing the rubber at League Stadium, and here he was again - back on his high school field in this big game and big moment.
Henderson had one last chance, and a fielder's choice scored Trevor Campbell to bring the game to its final score. Ryan Dos Santos grounded to Wilcoxson at short, who stepped on the second base bag to retire Trey Hutchison and move the Bombers on.
Waiting for them in the finals will be the Full Count Rhythm on Friday.
"We're just going to keep it light and keep having fun, man," Poe said of practicing ahead of Friday. "I'm not ready to send these guys off yet. The last couple weeks have been really fun for our guys, and I'm excited to keep that going."
A win Friday would give the Bombers the opportunity to win the championship at home on Saturday.
"Coming back here for that Game Two and being able to win a championship on this home field would be just awesome, and I know all these guys are looking for that," Allen said. "And we're going to come ready to play, looking forward to it."
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