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GOSHEN – A half-inning after South Oldham gave away a two-run lead against North Oldham Wednesday, the Dragons came right back to take control and win a district title.
South scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 7-3 lead on its way to a 7-4 win in the District 29 title game at North. The No. 1 seed Dragons (19-9) had already won the regular season district title and added a tournament crown to an impressive 2014 season.
The district tournament title was South's first since 2012. North beat the Dragons 8-0 last year in the championship game.
"Last year we came up short against them and that kind of stung," senior first baseman Noah Frantz said. "It definitely left a bitter taste in my mouth and it feels good to get it this year."
South's big inning came after North (14-14) had overcome a 3-1 deficit in the top of the fifth thanks to a two-out Andrew Pennybaker RBI double and a Cameron Masterman RBI single.
Frantz led off the inning with a single off Mustang right-hander Adam Judd, who'd come on in relief of starter Evan Cripe the previous inning.
"I just jumped on the first pitch with a new arm in there, hit it and we just kept rolling from there," Frantz said.
Freshman right-fielder Tanner Johnson sacrifice bunted. Frantz didn't slow down rounding second base, taking off to third as Judd threw Johnson out at first. Frantz slid in safely, putting a runner at third with one out.
Junior catcher Tyler Fitch then singled Frantz home, giving South a 4-3 lead.
Judd walked junior left-fielder Blake Bisig, moving sophomore courtesy runner Starr Thompson to second for the top of the order.
Freshman center-fielder Devin Bishop sacrifice bunted Thompson to third and Bisig into scoring position.
Junior third baseman Jared Brussell followed with a two-RBI single to score both runners and push the Dragon lead to 6-3.
Brussell, who advanced to second on the throw home, then scored when North center-fielder Flynn Crawford couldn't handle a ball off the bat of South second baseman Braden Sisson. Crawford's error made the score 7-3.
Senior left-hander Eddie Mathis pitched a scoreless sixth and gave up a run in the seventh before striking out Masterman to end the game.
Mathis pitched a complete game, giving up four runs, all earned, scattering 10 hits, not walking anyone and striking out five. The Bellarmine University signee was named tournament MVP.
"It was a tough one," Mathis said. "North's a very good team.
"They can swing it real well. It was tough to get them out."
South took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Cripe issued bases-loaded walks to designated hitter Drew Ellis and Johnson.
Cripe pitched a complete game shutout against South April 2 in the championship game of the Derby City Classic, but lasted just 3+ innings Wednesday, giving up three earned runs, two hits and six walks and striking out four.
"You've got to make him work," Frantz said. "Once you get him working, get him deep into his pitch count he starts to struggle, starts to walk people."
North got a run back in the top of the second when Masterman scored on an RBI fielder's choice off the bat of Judd.
South pushed its lead back to two runs at 3-1 in the bottom of the second on a Drew Greenwood sac fly.
That margin held until the Mustangs tied the game in the fifth.
Both teams now turn their attention to next week's Region 8 tournament, which begins Monday at Henry County.
North, which won the region title in 2011 and 2012, will play defending region champion Collins, the winner of Thursday's Simon Kenton vs. Grant County game or the winner of Thursday's Carroll County vs. Owen County game in the first round of the single-elimination tournament.
South will play Anderson County or the loser of one of those two games to be played Thursday.
"It's a good way to end the district," Mathis said, "and hopefully we keep the momentum moving strong into regions."
North Oldham (14-14) – 0 1 0 0 2 0 1 – 4 10 2
South Oldham (19-9) – 2 1 0 0 4 0 x – 7 5 1
WP – Eddie Mathis, LP – Adam Judd
All-District Tournament Team:
Oldham County: Austin Funk, Ross Gowing
Trimble County: Michael Dunaway, Hunter Duncan
North Oldham: Ethan Cleary, Evan Cripe, Adam Judd
South Oldham: Drew Greenwood, Drew Lively, Eddie Mathis (MVP)