Raiders escape at Forest ParkApril 8, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
FERDINAND - Camden Gasser found himself in a tight spot in the bottom of the seventh on Thursday, as Southridge held to a 5-4 lead with two outs against Forest Park. Junior Drew Howard represented the tying run for the Rangers (3-1, 1-1), while sophomore Landen Marks was the winning run at first.
Gasser buckled in, as the senior threw a pitch past Forest Park sophomore Jaden Schuetter for strike three, giving the Raiders (3-2, 2-0) a 5-4 win in this county rival and Pocket Athletic Conference game. It gave Gasser the save, and Howard the loss.
"We try not to let the situation get too big," Southridge coach Gene Mattingly said. "Every moment is just a moment in time. You collect your composure and you throw the ball over the plate and you let your defense work. He didn't need it right there, but (you) trust your teammates in case he does."
Forest took its first loss of the season in this one, but even then, the Rangers pushed it to potentially win the game with a rally in the bottom of the seventh. They were down by two before freshman Trevor Berg drove in fellow freshman Joel Bueltel, but Berg was thrown out at third base trying to stretch things into a triple.
Howard tripled in the next at-bat, but Forest Park couldn't bring him home.
"That's a good ballclub, and I love our toughness," Rangers coach Jarred Howard said. "And I can't ask anything more of a team than just being tough."
The Rangers took the lead they plated three runs in the bottom of the second off of Raiders senior starter Ethan Bell, who got the win. Two runs scored off the bat of sophomore starter Clayton Weisheit when Berg and Drew both scored, giving the Rangers some insurance on a 3-1 lead.
Weisheit held his own while working with the lead to deny the Raiders anything in the top of the third and top of the fourth.
"He's played a lot of baseball, and he wants to pitch for us," Jarred said of Weisheit. "And we want to put him in big spots like this because we're going to need him in big spots later on. He's mentally tough, he doesn't get up or down and he competes. So, I was real proud of him."
Weisheit departed during the top of the fifth when Drew took over. The Raiders loaded the bases with nobody out, looking at a 3-2 deficit, as senior catcher Chase Taylor came to the plate.
"They know how to play the game," Mattingly said. "They don't need guys telling what them what to do out there. Sometimes, it's just, 'Get a good pitch, put a good swing on it,' because that's what the game's all about."
The result was a two-run single, scoring senior Colson Montgomery and also Gasser. That gave Southridge the lead for good at 5-3, and got Bell off the hook from earlier. He worked past the trouble he dealt with earlier in the game.
Mattingly noted that Bell wasn't missing his pitches by a lot, but he was missing. He told of Taylor recommending that Bell switch from throwing his two-seam fastball to his four-seam fastball, and Mattingly told Bell to trust his catcher. As a result, Bell managed to get outs.
This gave the Raiders a redemption win after a 7-3 loss to Castle on Wednesday. Thursday's win concluded their run of games on three straight nights, and now they'll practice today, Saturday and Monday to get ready for Tuesday's game at another PAC opponent in South Spencer.
Mattingly told the Herald that they'll on something of "everything" these next few days.
"We're not perfect at any of (the game), so that means we're going to work on all of it," he said.
Forest Park, meanwhile, seeks a redemption win of its own today when it plays another home game against Barr-Reeve.
"I thought we played a pretty clean game, we just needed to work ahead (of) hitters," Jarred said. "We just didn't work ahead of hitters tonight. So, if we'll work ahead of hitters tomorrow and keep putting the ball in play, then I think we'll compete."
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