News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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June 4, 2011

South, North Central claim baseball regional titles

EVANSVILLE — Terre Haute South defeated Evansville Harrison 9-4 on Saturday night to win the Class 4A Evansville Regional, and North Central won the Class A Shakamak title with a 6-1 win over Bethesda Christian.

Earlier in the day, the Braves pounded Bloomington North in a long-lasting game in the heat.

When A.J. Reed crossed home plate to score Terre Haute South’s second run of the game against Bloomington North on Saturday, he clapped with a little bit of extra vigor.

Why? When Bloomington North showed in the first inning that they wanted no part of Reed’s powerful bat by intentionally walking him with a man on and one out, he knew his teammates had made the Cougars pay a heavy price.

And it was a bill the Braves kept levying on Bloomington North long after Reed took a seat in the dugout.

A five-run first inning propelled South to an 18-3 victory at Bosse Field in a Class 4A Evansville Regional semifinal game.

Bloomington North gave Reed five free passes and pitched to him just once. It continued a trend as Reed has just four official at-bats in 16 postseason plate appearances. But it didn’t hurt the Braves a bit as every other player in the starting lineup had at least one base hit.

“We have to come together as a team when they walk me. If I can’t help the team offensively, everyone has to step up behind me. That’s what we did,” Reed said.

South’s big first inning was fueled, in part, by Bloomington North mental errors in the field. With one out, Luke Vaccaro hit a pop foul that fell between three Cougars in foul territory. Vaccaro went on to hit a single.

Two batters after Reed was given the free pass, Jimmy Maxwell hit a high fly to left. It was a catchable ball, but Cougars left fielder Baron Ryan was crossed up in the sun and it dropped behind him. Vaccaro and Reed scored to make it 2-0.

The floodgates then opened for the Braves. Preston Tofaute singled to knock in Maxwell (and advanced to second on the throw). After Colton Rupska walked, Brent Mulvihill hit a two-run double to left to make it 5-0.

“Even if they pitched to A.J., we knew he wouldn’t get any pitches to hit. So we knew we had to step up and make them pay for walking A.J. We did it well today,” Maxwell said.

South (24-7) poured on three more runs in the second to chase Bloomington North starter Tyler Hurt. Daniel Marlow led off with a triple, and after another intentional walk to Reed, Ricky Wheatfill singled to left to drive in Marlow. Reed and Wheatfill would score on a two-out, two-run single by Rupska to make it 8-0.

Bloomington North (20-8-1) closed the gap to 9-3 in the fifth, but the Braves salted the game away in the sixth. Maxwell, Tofaute, Rupska and Mulvihill led off the inning with consecutive base hits. Tofaute and Mulvihill’s singles knocked in Braves runs and Marlow had a sacrifice fly as the lead reached 12-3.

South sent 10 batters to the plate in a six-run seventh to cement the rout. Reed finally got to hit and ended the inning with a deep fly to right.

“One through nine they did a great job,” South coach Kyle Kraemer said.

Maxwell got a rare distinction in the bottom of the seventh, ending the game in relief with a four-strikeout inning. One Cougar reached on a dropped third strike.

“It was pretty cool. I was just trying to get the three outs to end the game, but I’ll take four strikeouts,” Maxwell said.

Evansville Harrison defeated New Albany 8-1 in the regional opener. The concern for South was the length of time it to finish its game in the mid-90-degree heat as the game started late and took nearly three hours to complete.

South officials were lobbying to push the game time back, but it was determined that the championship game will start as scheduled at 8 p.m. (EDT).

“It’s going to be awful tough to come back in this heat. Guys are cramping up,” Kraemer said

The heat took its tool. Tofaute had to leave the game with heat-related exhaustion.

“It’s so hot. We’re not used to it. It’s the first time we’ve played in weather this hot this year,” Reed said.

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