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LOUISVILLE – South Oldham's players saved their energy for Wednesday night's Derby City Classic finals by making efficient work of Glenbard West (Ill.) Wednesday afternoon in the semifinals.
Left-handers Eddie Mathis and Noah Frantz combined for seven shutout innings as the Dragons beat the Hilltoppers 2-0 at Butler High School. The game took only and hour and a half to play thanks to South's superb pitching effort.
South (6-2) will play rival North Oldham in the championship game Wednesday night at Butler.
The Dragons have won three games in three days, allowing just four runs during that stretch.
“Eddie was throwing a lot of strikes, getting a lot of ground balls,” said Frantz, who pitched the sixth and seventh innings after Mathis pitched the first five. “I did a lot better my first inning than I did the second inning, but I finally got a ground ball and Greenwood made a big play.”
Greenwood's big play was a nice defensive backhand from his shortstop position on a Glenbard ground ball hit with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the seventh. Greenwood picked and tossed over to second baseman Braden Sisson to get a force out and end the game.
“I tried to backhand it, get rid of it quick, because the guy at first base could run a little bit,” Greenwood said. “Braden was there, right on time, so I got it to him.”
South didn't have to work that hard defensively most of the game.
Mathis was magnificent, allowing just one hit and two walks over five shutout innings. The Bellarmine signee was strong to the end Wednesday, striking out the side in his last inning of work.
After being shut out themselves the first two innings, South scratched across its first run in the third inning.
Dragon right fielder Tanner Johnson reached base to start the inning thanks to a fielding error by Hilltopper third baseman Drew Vogg.
Johnson advanced to second when Vogg caught a line drive off the bat of South left fielder Blake Bisig, then threw the ball away trying to double Johnson up at first.
Devin Bishop got Johnson to third with a bunt single. Then Johnson came home to put South up 1-0 when Glenbard first baseman Grant Greeno made the third Hilltopper error of the inning.
The lead stayed 1-0 until the sixth inning, when Greenwood hammered a solo home run over the right-center field wall off Glenbard pitcher Nick Floyd.
“Coaches were telling us (Floyd) was working backwards,” Greenwood said. “He was trying to get off-speed pitches over first, because he knew we weren't going to swing at them.
“So I tried to work the count a little bit, and I got it in my favor. I got a good pitch, just put a good swing on it.”
The Hilltoppers launched their first real rally of the game in the seventh.
Will Simoneit was grazed by a pitch, giving Glenbard a runner at first with one out. Billy Becker then smashed a ball to left field that threatened to be extra bases, but Bisig made a leaping catch at the wall to record the out.
Vogg came right back with a double down the left field line to put runners at second and third with two outs. A Frantz walk of Dennis Rudolph set the stage for Daniel Rustemeyer with the bases loaded, two outs, and his team down 2-0.
Rustemeyer hit a hard shot to Greenwood, but the senior made the play and flipped on to Sisson to end the game.
“Blake made a huge play in left field getting that fly ball, and Greenwood came up big getting that last ground ball,” Frantz said. “...I think it's been a great week for us.”
Glenbard West – 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0 2 4
South Oldham (6-2) – 0 0 1 0 0 1 x – 2 5 0