SELLERSBURG — Jack Hawkins and Tyler Wheeler came through in the clutch for Silver Creek on Tuesday night.
Hawkins hit the game-tying home run in the bottom of the seventh inning before Wheeler drove in the winning run in the Dragons’ 4-3 triumph over New Albany in a battle between two top-5 teams.
“Crazy big hit by Jack and then Tyler afterwards,” Dragons coach Joe Decker said. “It’s a very good win, they’re really, really good. [Bulldogs starter] Chase [Rudy] is probably the best arm we’ve faced all year. For us, we told them before the game, ‘It’s a sectional environment, we want to make it that way.’ It’s a sectional-type pitcher we’re going to see in Providence [in the first round]. … It was good to get us ready for next week.”
The Dragons drew first blood on Tyler Kapust’s RBI-single in the bottom of the first.
The Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead on Ryan Robison’s two-run homer in the top of the third.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth, when freshman Holden Groher tied the game on a high-chopping single.
In the seventh, Zach Hubbard reached first on a 2-out error. Jason Jeter, who was running for Hubbard, moved to second on a wild pitch by Sammy Barnett to Jonah Boone. Moments later, Boone appeared to hit a weak grounder up the first-base line that the home-plate umpire ruled a foul ball. Decker briefly protested but to no avail. Boone then hit Barnett’s next offering into center field to give New Albany a 3-2 lead.
“I told our guys, the best thing about that whole thing is how they handled the adversity in the seventh inning,” Decker said. “The ball that hits off the bat and [Boone’s] arm and they call it a foul ball. All the umpire said was, ‘Sorry,’ and then the kid gets a hit.”
The Dragons, though, still had a chance — and they made the most of the opportunity.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Hawkins drove a pitch from Rudy over the left field fence to tie the game. After a groundout, Barnett got his second hit of the game — a single to left field. Rudy hit the next batter, Bryson McNay, to bring up Wheeler. The junior laced a 2-0 fastball from Rudy into the gap in left-center to score Andrew Baxter, who was running for Barnett, with the winning run.
“First of all, Jack Hawkins did a great job,” Wheeler said. “Jack straight crushed that ball and then I had runners in scoring position, got a good pitch and I hit it well.
“2-0 count, I was kind looking dead-red fastball. If he was going to throw me a 2-0 curveball I was going to look like an idiot, but I got what I was looking for and I was on it.”
In addition to his game-high two hits at the plate, Barnett was equally as solid on the mound. The left-handed Indiana recruit gave up a trio of runs on three hits while walking two and striking out five in the complete-game effort.
Rudy, meanwhile, allowed four runs on six hits while walking three and striking out eight.
“It was a good ballgame,” New Albany coach Chris McIntyre said. “They were just a little sharper offensively and made a few less mistakes than we did. We made a couple mistakes defensively that led to some runs and that’ll get you beat against a good team in a tight game. Offensively, we never made a very good adjustment at the plate. We kept swinging at breaking balls out of the strike zone. You’ve got to stay off that against a good kid like that if you want to have any chance.”
SILVER CREEK 4, NEW ALBANY 3
New Albany 002 000 1—3 3 1
Silver Creek 100 001 2—4 6 2
W — Sammy Barnett (4-1). L — Chase Rudy (5-3). 2B — Barnett (S). HR — Ryan Robison (N), Hawkins (S).
Records — New Albany 21-4, Silver Creek 20-2.
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