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CRESTWOOD – In a series where runs have been hard to come by, South Oldham won by manufacturing a couple of them Thursday night.
Drew Greenwood and Eddie Mathis scored the tying and go-ahead runs on a Will Moriarty sacrifice bunt in the sixth inning and South held on to beat North Oldham 3-2 at Bill Cofer Field.
South (12-4, 4-0 District 29) needs to beat Oldham County in one of two games next week to clinch the regular season district title. North (8-7, 1-3) had its regular season title hopes dashed.
South’s 3-2 win came one night after left-hander Drew Lively shut North out 1-0 in Goshen in the team’s first district meeting. Mustang left-hander Evan Cripe shut the Dragons out 1-0 earlier this month at a tournament in Louisville, though that game didn’t count toward district standings.
So combine those two earlier games with Thursday’s, and the low-scoring game wasn’t unexpected, Mathis said.
“We’re definitely equal teams,” said Mathis, a senior left-hander who gave up two runs and five hits over seven innings of work Thursday. "North is a good ball club and they have great pitching.
“We have very good pitching as well and it’s just been a tough series between both of us.”
North got to Mathis for a couple of runs early. Mustang center-fielder Ethan Cleary led the game off with a double and scored on a Cameron Masterman groundnut to get North an early 1-0 lead.
The Mustangs scored a second run in the third inning, as second baseman Andrew Pennybaker knocked Tanner Risinger home with an RBI single.
But Mathis buckled down from then on, allowing just two hits the rest of the night.
“It takes Eddie a little time to get going,” South assistant coach David Watkins said. “He’s always a little slow starter, but… after the second inning he’s OK.”
Meanwhile the South offense was having little success against North left-hander Logan Morsman.
Third baseman Jared Brussell and second baseman Brayden Sisson each had singles in the first inning, but South couldn’t get either one across the plate.
Morsman didn’t allow another Dragon hit after that until the fifth inning.
“He was just changing up speeds very well and he got his curveball in for a strike and everything,” Mathis said of Morsman. “He placed his fastball well too.”
South finally got its first run in the fifth, with Brussell knocking first baseman Noah Frantz home with an RBI single. Left-fielder Blake Bisig, representing the tying run, also tried to come home on the play, but was thrown out at home by Cleary.
The Dragons rallied again in the sixth. Greenwood hit a one-out double and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Mathis walked. Catcher Tyler Fitch was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with one out.
North coach Erik Phelps went to his bullpen, putting Cripe in to relieve Morsman. The Dragons countered by putting Moriarty, a freshman pitcher, in to hit in Frantz’s spot.
Moriarty was put into the game with the express purpose of executing a squeeze play, Moriarty said.
“We had a perfect scenario,” Moriarty said. I guess it’s easier with a right-handed batter, so they put me in. I knew what I had to do.”
He dropped a perfect bunt between the first-base line and the pitcher’s mound.
Cripe came off the mound, fielded the ball and looked to the plate to see if he had a play on Greenwood, who was coming home from third.
But Greenwood got too good of a jump, so Cripe conceded that run, turning to first to throw Moriarty out.
As the ball sailed toward first, Mathis, who was running from second base, tore around third and headed home.
“As soon as I see Greenwood going from third and I see him put the ball down, I just keep going,” Mathis said.
The throw from Mustang first baseman Seth Hagen to catcher Peter Sohn was just a hair too late, and Mathis slid in safely with the go-ahead run.
“We work on that all the time,” Watkins said. “We’ve got confidence in our kids that they’re going to get that down… Will’s been bunting the ball nice. He’s a freshman, but he got the job done.”
Holding its first lead of the game, South nearly gave it right back in the seventh inning.
Two Dragon errors put Roman Millem on second and Adam Judd on first with no outs.
Mathis reached down and found enough left in his tank to finish the job.
The lefty struck Risinger and designated hitter Andrew Byers out swinging before getting Cleary to fly out to end the game.
“Eddie brings it every time,” Moriarty said of his starting pitcher. “We all knew he was going to perform very well and he did.”
North Oldham (8-7, 1-3) – 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 – 2 5 3
South Oldham (12-4, 4-0) – 0 0 0 0 1 2 x – 3 4 2
WP – Eddie Mathis LP – Logan Morsman