Offensive firepower leads Raiders to victory

 

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
The Southridge Raiders surround Conner Oxley after he hit a home run during Friday's baseball game at League Stadium in Huntingburg. Southridge defeated Forest Park 11-4 as the Raider offense was firing on all cylinders — they compiled a total of 15 hits, including six extra-base knocks. For more photos from the game, click here.

By JONATHAN SAXON

jsaxon@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — The crack of the bats at League Stadium could be heard far and wide Friday evening as the Southridge Raiders enjoyed an offensive surge to the tune of 15 hits, including a late game home run, which propelled them to an 11-4 victory over the Forest Park Rangers.

Southridge head coach Gene Mattingly had some concerns about the team’s effort after their game against the Northeast Dubois Jeeps, so he used Wednesday's practice to talk to the team about the kind of effort he wanted to see them bring to the field. He thinks the team responded well to the message given how they played their next two games against Princeton and Forest Park.

“It was a good outing,” he said.  “We had a long talk on Wednesday — the conversation was about it’s not how good you are, it’s about how focused and how much effort and energy you bring to the table. I thought we did that tonight.”

The hits came early and often for Southridge as singles for senior center fielder Tucker Schank and sophomore shortstop Colson Montgomery plus a dinger on senior left fielder loaded the bases in the top of the first inning. Sophomore catcher Chase Taylor drove in the first run with a single that scored Schank, and senior first baseman Logan Seger clipped another shortly after to score Sander and put the Raiders up 2-0.

A few more runs would come in the fourth inning. Following a lead off triple from Montgomery, Taylor notched his second RBI with a double to bring in his shortstop. Taylor would be replaced by junior courtesy runner Trevor Hunefeld, but he wouldn’t stay out on base for long as an RBI single from sophomore third baseman Camden Gasser brought him home in short order. Junior designated hitter Conner Oxley scored Gasser on a double, but the inning’s fourth run would be scored following a strange sequence of events.

It starts with senior right fielder Joe LaGrange striking out, but he was able to reach first base on an error thanks to a dropped ball from Ranger junior first baseman Zach Wahl. Then during junior second baseman Cort Gerber’s at-bat, LaGrange got caught between first and second trying to steal. He was eventually tagged out, but his shenanigans allowed Oxley to safely make it from third to home plate for a 6-0 Raiders lead in the top of the third inning.

The Raiders (4-2, 1-0) scored three more runs across the fourth and fifth innings. The fourth inning runs came via a Seger double that scored Montgomery and a drop in center field during a hit from Gasser which allowed Hunefeld to score his second run of the night. However, the bottom of the fourth would see Forest Park (3-5, 0-2) finally make their way onto the scoreboard as a wild pitch allowed freshman shortstop Drew Howard to cross home for the Rangers’ first run of the night.

In the fifth Montgomery logged his third hit of the game which drove in Schank for the 9-1 lead, but the Rangers weren’t done yet, despite the long odds against them. Senior center fielder Aaron Hurst led off the bottom of the fifth with a double and senior pitcher Jace Bieker clocked another two-bag hit to score Hurst. The Rangers managed to scratch up two more when junior designated hitter Gavin Knust hit a single that drove in senior starter Elliot Rothgerber and freshman courtesy runner Brody Klem.

But the Raiders would give themselves the insurance they needed when Oxley smacked a two-run homer over the left field wall in the sixth inning, which put Southridge up 11-4 and sealed the win.

“Once our bats get going they’re going to be hard to stop, no matter who’s pitching,” he said. “He threw me three curveballs in a row, I was looking for a fastball. I got a fastball.”

Sophomore starter Ethan Bell (1-0) pitched four and two-thirds innings for five hits, four earned runs, and five strikeouts. Gasser finished the game with three hits, three walks and a strikeout. Oxley finished 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. Montgomery went 4-for-5 with an RBI, and Schank had three hits in five at-bats. Seger and Taylor each had two RBIs, and Gasser also drove in a run.

“When the team gets on a roll like we did tonight, the energy you’re dugout brings is going to carry you into encouraging everybody else to do their best at the plate,” said Taylor. “One person on base can be an extra 90 feet closer to home and that’s what we did tonight.”

“It was a matter of getting good pitches,” added Mattingly as he praised his boys for their hitting prowess. “We took good at-bats, if we’re getting the right pitch and putting the right swing on the right pitch we can hit a ball hard. Tonight we didn’t get any cheap ones.”

Forest Park's Elliott Rothgerber pitches during Friday's baseball game at League Stadium in Huntingburg. Rothgerber had a bit of an off night on the mound for the Rangers as he gave up 11 hits and seven earned runs while striking out two batters. However, Rothgerber and the Rangers know they can't dwell on this loss for too long. For more photos from the game, click here.

Rothgerber (1-1) pitched three and one-third innings and finished with 11 hits, eight runs (seven earned), two walks, and two strikeouts. Bieker finished with four hits, three earned runs, and strikeout in relief. Knust finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and junior right fielder Reece Verkamp finished 1-for-3 with one run driven in.

“They killed me hitting wise, we just have to comeback next game ready to go,” said Rothgerber. “We’ll move on, it’s a learning experience. Hats to them, they killed the ball.”

Rangers coach Jarred Howard was proud of the way his boys kept playing hard late into the game instead of rolling over when the Raiders were up big. The way he saw it, the Rangers put the ball in play, but Southridge’s defense and hitting were just better on Friday night.

But Forest Park won’t hang their heads, all they can do is glove up for their next game and play with a clean slate.

“You can’t worry about what just happened, you have to move on to the next game,” he said. “You have to show up the next day ready to play, because you never know what’s going to happen.”




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