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April 5, 2014

Terre Haute South cruises to Braves Bash title

TERRE HAUTE — Terre Haute South knew it had a deep pitching staff going into the 11th annual Braves Bash baseball tournament and that proved to be true. But the Braves’ offense surprised everyone but the players Saturday as South won two 10-run-rule games en route to the championship.

South defeated Mount Vernon 10-0 Saturday morning and capped the championship with a 14-4, come-from-behind victory over Munster in the finale.

It is only the third time the Braves have won the tournament title, tying Munster and Mount Vernon.

“We played three awfully good games to start the year. We don’t bring cupcakes in here. We want to get tested. We want to get tested early,” South coach Kyle Kraemer said.

Munster beat New Haven 6-5 on Saturday and Mount Vernon topped New Haven 14-0.

South used all its weapons to win the tournament. Tim Herrin pitched a four-hit shutout in the morning. Then in the finale, Denim Matchett came out of the bullpen to shut down Munster. And the Braves backed the pitchers with two error-free games, 24 runs and 20 hits.

“[Hitting] wasn’t surprising for us. I thought that was one of our strong suits coming in [to the season],” Jared Wolfe, who was 5 for 8 with two doubles and four RBIs while batting leadoff.

With both teams playing their third game in two days, the question of pitching depth was hanging over the opening pitch.

Munster jumped out to a 3-0 lead with four hits in the first two innings before Matchett got control of the game for the Braves. Matchett gave up two run, both earned, over 3 2/3 innings on the mound.

“[Matchett] did a fantastic job. He was going to throw in the first game, but luckily we didn’t need him. He did just a wonderful job of throwing strikes,” Kraemer said.

Then South’s teed off on Munster’s pitching staff. Austin Slover got the Braves on the board, leading off the second with a solo home run.

Herrin, playing right field, received a walk and scored on a double by Mitch Clinkenbeard, who scored the tying run on an infield hit by Wolfe.

Munster took its last lead with a single run in the third inning, before South exploded in the bottom of the frame. The Braves scored six runs on five hits in third, as Herrin, Clinkenbeard, Zach Donnelly, Wolfe and Conner Shipley all delivered hits, to go along with four walks. Jacob Johnson brought in a run with a sacrifice fly.

The Braves tacked on five more runs, on four hits and one Munster error, in the sixth inning to wrap up the tournament. Trey McCue dropped an excellent bunt single down the third baseline. Wolfe delivered a run-scoring single and Johnson belted a two-run double and Slover picked up his second RBI of the contest with a single.

“You got to give credit to our hitters. We fell behind 2-0 in the first inning, gave up another run and was down 3-0 in the top of the second. We just kept chipping away, chipping away, keep grinding,” Kraemer said.

“We talk about challenges every day. I thought they live up to that challenge the second game.”

Herrin put South in solid position to win the Bash on Saturday morning with a five-hit shutout. The junior lefthander struck out nine, walked four and hit two batters while going the full six innings in the 10-run rule victory.

“It was a lot of fun. I just tried to throw strikes. I knew if I threw strikes [Mount Vernon] would put [the ball] in play [and] I knew my defense was behind me. I just happened to throw a lot of strikeouts, too, so that was nice,” Herrin said.

Herrin’s performance in his first start of the season, coming off a football injury and three months of basketball surprised South coach Kyle Kraemer.

“Three sport athlete, sometimes he’s a little slow to get caught up and into baseball shape, but that was a very, very good performance out of him today. I can’t say I’m surprised, because he’s a competitor, but he threw much better than what I anticipated,” Kraemer said.

The Braves not only supported Herrin with an error-free defense, but also seven hits from six different positions in the batting order. Wolfe led South with two doubles.

But this was a much closer game than the final 10-run win. Mount Vernon committed seven errors, including three in the sixth inning when the Braves scored five runs to end the game.

The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the third when Jared Wolfe hit a double off the right field fence to score Clinkenbeard, who led off the inning with a walk.

The Braves went ahead 5-0 in with a four-run fifth inning. Wolfe connected for his second double and Conner Shipley, Jacob Johnson and Herrin each scratched out singles to bring in the four runs.

South put a double by Slover and Donnelly together with three Mount Vernon errors and two walks to score the game-ending five runs in the sixth.

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