Spartans eliminate Hibriten
The second-seeded South Caldwell Spartans claimed an 8-2 victory over arch-rival Hibriten in the first round of the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference baseball tournament on Tuesday in Sawmills.
“This was a good team win to get us back on the winning side,” said South head coach Jeff Parham. “We were very selective at the plate and we didn’t swing at bad pitches. Austin (Miller) did a great job pitching for us tonight.”
South advances to take on Watauga in semifinals on Friday at 4:30 p.m. at M.S. Deal Stadium in Granite Falls. Hibriten sees its season come to an end.
“We just have to take care of ourselves and do our thing,” Parham said. “We have to take it one pitch at a time.”
“These guys (Hibriten) persevered and fought hard all season,” said Hibriten head coach Terry Henthorne. “They overcame a lot of adversity this year and kept showing up to play no matter who we were playing or what the score was. I would go to war with them anytime.”
Throughout the season, the Panthers’ strong point has been their pitching. That was not the case on Tuesday night. Hibriten pitchers combined to walk 12 batters and hit another one.
“We had some trouble throwing strikes tonight,” Henthorne said. “We struggled with our breaking-balls and had to throw a lot of fast balls. When you allow a team like South to be able to sit on a fast ball all night, they’re going to hit it.”
The play of the game occurred in the top of the first inning. South Caldwell’s Gage Parham hit one to deep center, but Elijah Watson made a diving grab to rob Parham of a hit and save a run from scoring.
After three, scoreless innings, the Spartans broke the game open with four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Trent Wakefield walked and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Shields. Anthony Rossi then hit an RBI single to center, scoring Wakefield. After an Isaac Tilghman single, Taylor Purus hit sacrifice fly to score Rossi. Tilghman scored two batters later on an RBI walk by Miller, and Nick Horning scored on a wild pitch to give South a 4-0 advantage.
The Spartans scored another run in the fifth. Shields reached on a dropped third strike and advanced to second on a walk by Rossi. Horning the reached on a fielder’s choice and two throwing errors by the Panthers allowed courtesy runner John Almond to score from second.
In the sixth inning, South scored another three runs on no hits. Parham reached on an error, followed by two walks from Miller and Phillip Page to load the bases. Parham then scored on a wild pitch. Another wild pitch with an error allowed both Page and courtesy runner Brock Johnson to score.
Hibriten finally got on the board in the seventh inning. Elijah Watson reached on a dropped third strike and Cole Conley singled. AJ Watson followed with a two-run triple to center to make the score 8-2.
Miller picked up the win for South. He threw six innings, giving up no runs on six hits, while striking out eight.
Hibriten 000 000 2 - 2-8-5
South Caldwell 000 413 x - 8-3-2
Winning pitcher: Austin Miller (6 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K). Losing pitcher: Drew Bolick (3.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 8 BB, 3 K).
Leading hitters: Hibriten - AJ Watson 3-4, 3B, 2 RBI; Cole Conley 1-1, R. South Caldwell - Austin Miller 0-0, 4 BB, RBI, R; Anthony Rossi 1-3, RBI, R; Isaac Tilghman 2-4, R.