News From Terre Haute, Indiana


May 28, 2014

Hanging on: Home runs help Patriots withstand late Braves rally, advance in baseball sectional

TERRE HAUTE — Pitching was generally good, defense ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime and a second straight seventh-inning rally made things interesting in Terre Haute North-Terre Haute South high school baseball Wednesday evening.

But the ridiculous end of the defensive range gave the Patriots three gift runs early in Class 4A Sectional 12 action at South, and the Patriots used them and two long home runs to hold off the Braves 5-3.

North returns to action at 6 p.m. Saturday at South against Avon, which drew the first-round bye. Other first-round games at South today feature Brownsburg against Martinsville at 6 p.m., followed by Mooresville against Plainfield.

“It felt good to beat South and go on to game two,” said North center fielder Lane Dransfield, the author of the second homer. “We just have to keep playing hard.”

The game was completed in less than two hours and was really flying along early, thanks to the sublime parts of the defensive play.

North right fielder Nick Long reached over the fence to take a homer away from South’s Justin Jenkins in the top of the first — “That catch literally changed the game,” North catcher T.J. Collett said later — and South’s Logan Ames pitched around a double by Zach Milam and an intentional walk to Collett in the bottom of the inning when third baseman Zach Donnelly started a double play that first baseman Mitchell Clinkenbeard finished off with a nifty catch and tag.

The bottom of the second wasn’t quite so pristine, however.

North’s Chase Jones reached on an error and Cody Maloon hit a two-hopper over the mound that looked like a sure double-play ball — until neither middle infielder bothered to stop it and it rolled into the outfield for a single. Dransfield’s sacrifice bunt was botched to allow one run to score, and two more scored on the third error of the inning. Had left fielder Jared Wolfe not made a spectacular diving catch and turned it into a double play, North might have scored even more.

The double play prevented Collett from batting with runners on base, but when he led off the third he at least got pitches to hit — and showed why he’s a rare talent. He hit a two-strike curveball, barely above the ankles and on the outside corner, about 380 feet to the opposite field, extending his school-record total to 15 homers for the year.

“My last at-bat against [Ames] he threw me a curveball with two strikes,” Collett recalled about a game played approximately a month ago, “so in the back of my mind I was sitting on it.”

Ames, who had beaten the Patriots in the first game of the teams’ Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference series in May, made only one real mistake, that against Dransfield in the bottom of the fifth.

“The first pitch was a hanging curveball, and I was looking for it again,” Dransfield said. “I put it in play, obviously,” he noted of his line drive off the scoreboard in right field.

With North’s Austin Hicks, winner of the second game of that MIC series, rolling through six innings, the Patriots looked to be home free. But South had rallied for three runs in the seventh inning a month ago, and the Braves did so again.

Singles by Timmy Herrin and pinch-hitter Grant Ellis opened the inning, a one-out hit by Trey McCue drove in one run and a wild pitch followed by a two-run single by Conner Shipley brought the tying run to the plate before the game ended.

“In a North-South game, sometimes emotions write a better story than what occurred,” coach Shawn Turner of North said afterward. “We didn’t play our best game, [the Braves] didn’t play their best game. Both pitchers did a great job.”

“You have to tip your hat to Hicks,” coach Kyle Kraemer of the Braves said, “and I think [North’s] kids expected to win.

“I thought we’d prepared well the last couple of the weeks, but we didn’t do a very good job executing, and I didn’t imagine those errors for our defense. We just didn’t make plays today.”

North shortstop Austin Turner was removed from the game because of heat-related symptoms in the top of the fourth inning, but that enabled an unsung hero to emerge, his father noted.

“We had three or four guys affected with the heat that we were watching,” Shawn Turner said after the game, “but that’s why you have the rosters the way you have them. Keaton Booth [who replaced Austin Turner] saved our bacon [with four defensive plays and a hit].”

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