Southridge's late rally falls short in title gameJune 18, 2018
By JONATHAN SAXON
INDIANAPOLIS — A miracle almost happened at Victory Field. Some could even say it had shades of November written all over it.
Similar to the school’s 15-14 victory over Woodlan in the Class 2A state football championship on Thanksgiving weekend, the Raiders found themselves behind late and were hoping for a late push similar to what they had on the gridiron.
Down five runs going into the seventh inning, the Southridge baseball team put all the cards on the table and fought hard for what would have been the first state title in the history of the school’s baseball program. However, the push fell agonizingly short as Boone Grove held on to win the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s Class 2A baseball state championship 5-4 over Southridge.
After being shutout by the Wolves for the first six innings, something materialized in the Southridge offense. Senior pinch hitter Justin Lammers led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a single on senior Boone Grove starter Ty Rothwell. Southridge’s lineup had been neutralized the entire game, collecting only three hits before the Lammers single. But then senior first baseman Max Sermersheim struck out, and sophomore starting pitcher Logan Seger was thrown out at first base.
However, there was still time to get the rally started. Freshman third baseman Camden Gasser stepped up and drew a walk off Rothwell, who was starting to show signs of fatigue from his all-day stint on the mound. Junior pinch runner Patrick Sander (who was running for Lammers) had also managed to make it to third base during Gasser’s at-bat on a passed ball, putting runners at the corners. Then it finally happened — senior left fielder Colin Smith made contact with Rothwell and launched a double to score Gasser and Sander, cutting the deficit to 5-2.
Junior center fielder Tucker Schank followed with a hit which died about a third of the way down the first baseline, buying him enough time to make the sprint to the bag. After, freshman shortstop Colson Montgomery, who had previously been the only batter to get consistent hits during the game, was intentionally walked to load up the bases. Freshman catcher Chase Taylor cashed in on the opportunity and used a booming single to drive in both Smith and Schank to put the Raiders within one at 5-4.
Senior second baseman Jayce Harter stepped into the batter’s box and displayed that old Raider fighting spirit which the Huntingburg community has come to rally around. In the words of the man himself:
“We knew when (Boone Grove) put up that four-spot there (in the fourth inning), there was no way that it was over. That’s just who we are. That’s how our team is. We don’t give up until the clock hits zero.”
Even though there’s no ‘clock’ in baseball, the Raiders were still on their final out and with that in mind, Harter stepped forward and fought senior reliever Bryce Morris for a 3-2 count — something had to give on the next pitch. Morris wound up and hurled it as Harter stayed patient and took the walk.
Junior right fielder Joe LaGrange stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded, hoping to tie the game. However, it was not meant to be. After nearly getting hit by a pitch, a pop-fly out to left field sailed peacefully into the Boone Grove outfielder’s glove and the Wolves stopped the Raider rally at 5-4 to win the 2A state title.
Both the team and the fans were understandably heartbroken. The Raiders (25-7) had come close, but couldn’t finish the comeback. Most of the players had played in a state title game before when the Southridge football team defeated the Woodlan Warriors 15-14 in stout, come-from-behind fashion for their 2A state title. But this day presented a different sport, a different game and a different result.
Southridge coach Gene Mattingly took a second to think about what had just happened, and came to one conclusion — though they did not win, the team could leave Victory Field with their heads still high knowing they gave it their all until the final out was recorded.
“We’ve always (thought) the dam’s going to break if we just keep doing what we do,” Mattingly said. “Keep fighting, keep fighting. Just too little, too late.”
Seger finished with four strikeouts and allowed four hits for four runs. Taylor finished 1-for-4 with two RBIs. Schank and Montgomery each had two hits.
Boone Grove’s Rothwell, an Indiana University baseball commit, finished with 12 strikeouts while allowing six hits for four runs. He also had an RBI. Senior center fielder Taylor Piazza and sophomore third baseman Austin LeMar drove in one run each.
Though they didn’t bring the state championship trophy back to Huntingburg, the Raiders still have a lot to be proud of this season. In addition to winning sectional, the team won regional and semistate titles for the first time in the program’s history, and they will return a lot of guys next season to take another swing at things in the spring. But as for the seniors that are moving on, they will take the memory of this season and look fondly upon it.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better senior year,” Harter said. “We’re blessed to do what we love. We have the best fans, best community. There are special moments in each game we had that I’m going to remember forever.”
“Being with the guys and coaches I love, the entire ride,” added Smith. “It’s been a dream come true. I can’t thank the community enough or all the teammates that have been on the ride with us seniors.”
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