Coming off a Thursday night 11-10 win versus Franklin North, the Warren County Middle School baseball team came face to face with Franklin South on Friday night. Things went well for a couple of innings but after Franklin South got its first runs the WCMS momentum slowed way down.
Franklin South was able to claim the lead in the fifth inning with a four-run inning and went on to win by a final score of 8-5.
In the top of the first, WCMS led the game off with a walk by Ethan Smith. After the first out, Brooks Helton hit a sharp ball to shortstop for out two. WCMS picked up out three and Smith was left stranded at second.
Helton, who left Thursday night’s game after his first at-bat with an elbow injury, made his return to the lineup Friday evening to start the game for WCMS. Helton pitched to a total of four batters in the bottom of the first and the lead-off batter reached on a base hit, but he was caught when he tried to steal second for the first out. The second batter Helton faced hit a high fly-ball to centerfield for out two. The third out was a well-hit ball to Dylan Ward at second base who completed the throw to first for out three.
In the top of the second, WCMS was in the bottom half of the lineup and although the Pioneers received back-to-back walks runners were left stranded and WCMS remained scoreless through two.
In the bottom of the second, Franklin South went down in order and the game was very close with no one able to get the upper hand by the end of the second inning, and after two complete the game remained scoreless.
In the top of the third, the Pioneers were at the top of the lineup with Smith and he singled to right field and wasted little time in his attempt to steal second. A wild pitch sent Smith over to third base and Helton hit a deep blast to right-center field and Smith scored the game’s first run for a 1-0 lead. Will Cantrell was hit by a pitch and the Pioneers followed that with out two. Brandon Hennessee blasted a shot to left center field for a single and he scored Helton and took a 2-0 lead before out three.
The bottom of the third was probably the best defensive inning for WCMS and they took Franklin South down in order and things started to look up and the Pioneers held a 2-0 lead after three complete.
In the top of the fourth, Franklin South returned the favor by taking the Pioneers down in order for an easy one, two, three inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, the shift in momentum was apparent. With a new pitcher on the mound Franklin South put its bats to work. They managed a base-clearing, three-run home run and sparked a three-run rally to claim the lead and WCMS trailed for the first time in the game at 3-2.
In the top of the fifth, WCMS responded and reclaimed the lead and it all started with a single by Adams and Cantrell. Hennessee helped the duo move around the bases when he hit a stand-up double that rolled to the fence. When the third out had been made and the dust settled, WCMS was back in front, 4-3.
The bottom of the fifth was very kind to Franklin South. They batted around the entire order and added another three runs to take a 7-4 lead and they maintained the lead for the remainder of the game.
The top of the sixth inning for the Pioneers did not go as well as previous innings and the bats were silent. The Pioneers needed answers, and fast, because they were running out of outs.
Franklin South was coming down the stretch with room to breathe in the bottom of the sixth with a 7-4 lead. They started a base hit campaign that would add one more run to their lead for an 8-4 lead.
In the top of the seventh, WCMS was down to its final at-bat and it was do or die. Sloan Seymour got a lead-off single to deep left field and Hennessee quickly picked him up when he followed with his second double of the game and Seymour crossed the plate, 8-5. Hennessee advanced to third and that was as far as he would make it. Franklin South slammed the door on the Pioneers and dealt them their first loss in the postseason.
Franklin South defeated WCMS by a final score of 8-5 and the Pioneers dropped to the loser’s bracket to be played Saturday with results not available at press time.
At the end of a game that had the entire crowd of friends and family on the edge of their seats, the Pioneers from Warren County Middle School fought off the 51 degree temperatures and the fog to get an 11-10 victory over Franklin North.
Jack Keele got the start on the hill for the Pioneers and with new pitching rule changes made to this year’s postseason, Keele would only be able to pitch the first three innings or risk missing games deeper into the postseason.
Keele allowed no runs off three hits in his first three innings of play. After three innings of solid pitching Brady McCormack took over on the hill, followed by Brandon Hennessee and Franklin North produced seven runs over the fourth and fifth innings, off a barrage of hits and a couple of throwing errors.
What had been a one-sided ballgame in the first three innings with WCMS holding the early advantage, Franklin North battled back and cut what was a 10-2 lead at one point during the game to an 11-10 score in the top of the seventh.
The score was 11-10 and Franklin North was down to its last at-bat. They had momentum on their side and their players were pumped. Keele re-entered the game for the final two innings and in Franklin North’s final at-bat it looked like Warren County was about to dodge a huge bullet. The first batter of the top of the seventh inning popped up to shortstop for out number one. Keele got the second batter he faced in the inning and took him down on strikes.
So with two out and no one on base for Franklin North, that is when things got very interesting. A single to left centerfield put on the first runner in the top of the seventh. The following batter was hit by a pitch and now there were two outs and two on for Franklin North with one of those runners in scoring position.
Keele was being encouraged to just throw strikes and let the defense handle the rest. Keele got ahead in the count 0-2 and the WCMS fans were restless. Keele took a deep breath and sent a pitch on a laser right down the middle and right over the plate that must have frozen the Franklin North batter. He was called out on strikes for the final out of the game and the two runners were left stranded.
The Pioneers could breathe easy as the game was over and the Pioneers play on in the next round. Take a look at how the Pioneers escaped with an 11-10 win.
The Pioneers started the bottom of the second with an out followed by a well-hit ball to left centerfield for a double. Trace Adcock drove a hit to right field for a single and Keele moved over to third base. Out two came on a strikeout and WCMS still had runners in scoring position. Ethan Smith blasted a triple to clean the bases and the Pioneers had a 2-0 lead. Hunter Adams followed Smith with a stand-up double which scored Smith for a 3-0 lead. Dale Robinson walked and the Pioneers continued to put runners on base with two outs. Cantrell and Seymour each walked and Hennessee drove a single to right field and the runners were on the move. Keele followed with a walk, but before the next out ended the inning WCMS posted a six-run inning to take a 6-0 lead.
The Pioneers continued to make progress in the bottom of the third inning with Smith and Adams reaching base. Robinson sacrificed and Will Cantrell drew a walk and the runners continued to move. Seymour was the final single of the inning and he posted more runs and after the third out came the Pioneers led 8-0.
McCormack took over on the hill for the Pioneers and Franklin North responded to the pitching change in the top of the fourth. Franklin North started their trip to the plate with an out but followed single to left field. Two singles and a passed ball later Franklin North had their first runs of the game. WCMS led after out three, 8-2.
In the bottom of the fourth inning WCMS added two more runs for a 10-2 lead over Franklin North.
The bottom of the fifth inning WCMS was losing steam and the hits that came earlier in the game were not as easy as before. The Pioneers added one more run before their final at-bat and took an 11-7 lead.
The top of the sixth was another good inning at-bat for Franklin North and Keele returned to the mound to try and close out the game.
With the bats still warm from the previous inning, Franklin North scored another three runs after not being able to hit off Keele in the first three innings. The large lead was gone and the momentum was not far behind and WCMS led 11-10.
Keele got back into a rhythm and threw strikes when he needed them. The WCMS defense responded and held off the large charge of Franklin North and defeated them by a final score of 11-10 that came right down to the end and WCMS moves on to the next round of the postseason.