Raiders fight past Rangers for victory on special nightApril 20, 2018
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
HUNTINGBURG — Southridge freshman Colson Montgomery has already shown several times throughout his first year of high school athletics that he has the power to do some pretty special things.
From scoring an 84-yard touchdown in the Raider football regional victory over Providence in the fall to breaking the single-game and single-season scoring record in his first year on the basketball court, this time the youngster came up big on the diamond where Southridge wanted a win just a little bit more than usual.
Montgomery drove home Chase Taylor on a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning to clinch the come-from-behind 3-2 victory for Southridge over conference and county rival Forest Park on ‘Lexi’s Night’ — a night where the Southridge baseball team wore purple jerseys with the name ‘Lexi’ on them in honor of Lexi Mattingly, the daughter of Raider head coach Gene Mattingly who passed away from an undiagnosed heart condition called Myocarditis on April 20, 2017.
“It was a special night and we weren’t going down without a fight tonight,” said Montgomery, who was one of three freshman Raider starters on Friday night. “Before I went up to the plate (in the sixth inning), coach just kept telling me to stay focused and don’t think about anything else but driving the ball.”
The night kicked off with Southridge girls tennis coach Rhonda Diekhoff throwing out the first pitch — Diekhoff was Lexi Mattingly’s tennis coach and also is the owner of the Windmill Chill in Holland where Lexi worked. After the first pitch, Gene Mattingly tried to remind his guys that it was just another game, even though that may have been a little bit easier said than done.
“I knew tonight was about her memory and honoring her sweet life but I told the guys after the first pitch, we have seven innings of baseball to play so I told them to stay focused,” Gene Mattingly said. “But I’d be lying if I said (tonight) wasn’t a special win because it is.”
Southridge (5-3, 2-0 PAC) started the night off with a quick showing of offense in the first inning as Jayce Harter sent a deep fly ball to center field for a sacrifice fly to drive in Colin Smith for the game’s first run an and early 1-0 Raider lead to start the night.
After that burst of offense, the next two innings were complete dominance from Raider starting pitcher Camden Gasser and Ranger starter Gavin Knust as neither hurler gave up a hit during those two innings while they both struck out one.
“He got a first strike and a first out almost every inning,” Forest Park head coach Jarred Howard said of his starter Knust who pitched a complete game and gave up just five hits on the night. “If you’re able to get the first strike and first out of the inning then it’s usually a sign for good things to come.”
And early on things were looking pretty good for the Rangers — especially in the fourth inning. Forest Park (2-5, 2-1 PAC) sent seven batters to the plate in the inning with Trever Zink and Elliott Rothgerber getting on base early in the inning with a single and a double, respectively.
Sophomore Hunter Helming came through clutch with two outs in the inning as his deep single was able to score both Zink and Rothgerber and give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
“He’s been swinging the ball real well for us all year,” Howard said of the sophomore slugger. “We’re still trying to figure out who’s going to bat where but overall they’ve been beginning to take better swings — we just needed a few key hits.”
Southridge tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning as Max Sermersheim scored on a wild pitch after reaching base earlier in the inning on a single. The Raiders had an opportunity to take the lead in the inning but left two runners stranded on base.
After a solid five innings on the mound from Gasser, junior Logan Seger entered the game in a position he’s been in several times before — a game that’s going to come down right to the wire.
“Camden pitched a great game to keep us in it — it’s actually pretty scary how good those young guys are going to be when they’re older,” Seger said with a laugh. “When coach called on me to go warm up, I just thought to myself ‘I have to keep this lead for (Camden).’”
While Seger’s first inning of work did have a few bumps as Helming and Garrett Berg both reached base and eventually got all the way up to second and third, the Raiders were able to swipe Helming as he attempted to score on a fielder’s choice and Seger ended the inning by striking out Hasenour.
Then, the big inning for the Raiders happened. Harter kicked the inning off with a walk and even though he would end up being picked off at first base, Taylor would follow things up with a single. After that, the rest is history as Montgomery’s RBI single sent Taylor home for the final run of the game. Seger and the Raiders would leave Zink and Rothgerber stranded in the Rangers final chance at a comeback.
The Raiders were helped in the victory by some players coming through in some really clutch situations in not just Friday night’s win but also the big wins earlier in the week against North Posey and Loogootee.
“We’ve had timely hitting — (Forest Park) might have out-hit us tonight as far as totals but we’ve had timely hits,” Mattingly said. “I mean, the game-winning hit was a two-out hit so that’s been a big key for us.”
While any win is a good win the Southridge players were happy to get one for their coach on a special night — and get a win for one of their good friends, too.
“I think everyone has just been playing really hard for coach and everything has just been clicking for us right now,” Seger said. “Lexi was a really good buddy of mine so it just feels terrific and unbelievable to get a win on a night like this.”
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