Alexander Central roughs up South
The first semifinal game in the East Rutherford Easter Tournament featured two powerhouses from the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference.
South Caldwell and Alexander Central sit in a tie at the top of the conference at 6-1. The Spartans currently hold the tiebreaker, as they defeated the Cougars 2-0 earlier this season. On Wednesday, the two teams met in a non-conference game for the right to play in the East Rutherford Easter Tournament, and Alexander Central claimed a 7-3 victory over South at McNair Field in Forest City.
“They (Alexander Central) have a good club,” said South head coach Jeff Parham. “We were up against a good pitcher. We have to find ways to score in tough situations.”
While the Spartans had no trouble getting on base, however, they did struggle to get those runners across the plate. South Caldwell left 10 base runners stranded throughout the game.
“We crawled back in the beginning to give ourselves a chance,” Parham said. “We have to get some of those tough, two-out hits. We have one more game to get ready for some big conference games.”
Alexander Central opened the scoring in the bottom of the second. With two outs in the inning, Ethan Deal hit a single and Garrett Dupuis walked. Jared Sigmon and Trevor Cook then hit back-to-back RBI singles to score Deal and Dupuis.
South Caldwell fired right back in the top of the third with two runs of its own. Nick Horning got himself into scoring position with a double and Jonathan Almond came on as a courtesy runner for Horning. Almond advanced to third on a single by Phillip Page, before scoring on an RBI single by Ethan James. Rian Haire reached on a fielder’s choice, leaving Page on third and Haire on second. Haire then strolled out about halfway down to second base, before intentionally getting caught in a pickle. While being chased down, Page took off from third and scored to tie the game at two. Haire was eventually tagged out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Dupuis and Sigmon both reached on back-to-back fielder’s choice plays, before scoring on a two-run double by Cook. Cook finished the game with two hits, three RBIs and a run scored.
The Cougars added to their lead in the fifth inning. Josh McLain led off with a single and
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Jordan Barnes later walked to put runners on first and second with no outs. On a pick-off attempt to first, the throw from Horning went off the top of Barnes’ helmet and into the outfield. McLain scored from second and Barnes made it all the way to third. The very next batter, Deal hit a single to drive in Barnes to make the score 6-2.
South Caldwell scored one more run in the sixth. Nick Shields, Almond, Gage Parham and Horning all drew walks to bring in a run. Brock Johnson scored the run as a courtesy runner for Shields. Horning picked up the RBI on his walk.
Alexander scored its final run in the sixth on three straight South errors.
Brandon Lail picked up the win for the Cougars. He threw five innings, giving up two runs on seven hits, while striking out five. Horning took the loss. He surrendered four earned runs on seven hits, through five innings of work. He also struck out two batters.
South Caldwell is scheduled to play in the third place game today at 2 p.m. in Forest City.
South Caldwell - 002-001-0 - 3-8-4
Alexander Central - 020-221-x - 7-7-1
Winning pitcher: Brandon Lail (5 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 K). Losing pitcher: Nick Horning (6 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 2 K).
Leading hitters: South Caldwell - Ethan James 3-4, RBI; Nick Horning 1-3, 2B, BB, RBI, R; Phillip Page 2-4, R. Alexander Central - Trevor Cook 2-4, 2B, 3 RBIs, R; Ethan Deal 3-4, RBI, R; Garrett Dupuis 0-1, 2 BB, 2 R.