Going into the top of the seventh inning Friday night, Terre Haute South appeared to be cruising to a win in its high school baseball home opener against Tecumseh, Jackson McFarland and Blaze Schultz having allowed just one hit between them as South led 8-2.
South did win, but by a 12-11 score. Yes, the seventh inning was interesting.
Four batters into the final frame, Schultz had given up a hit, a walk and a run but was still in line for a three-inning save. But the visitors put together five straight hits, then another walk, then a two-run triple by Jalen Oxley that had Tecumseh on top, then another run-scoring single.
The substantial crowd from Warrick County, supporting a team that was the Class A runner-up the last time Indiana high school baseball was played in 2019, was understandably elated, but the home team still had an at-bat left.
Tucker Helton led off the bottom of the seventh by drawing a walk against the fifth pitcher Tecumseh used. Freshman catcher Riley Huckaby followed with a drive to left that was lost in the lights for a single, and Jacob Rutledge followed with a single to load the bases. In a matter of five minutes, South had put the tying run on base with nobody out.
Caleb Morris walked, his second run-scoring base on balls of the game, to cut the lead to 11-9 and Kade Kline singled to drive in two runs for an 11-11 tie. Caleb Stultz, who had two earlier hits that didn't go very far — a smash off the pitcher's glove and a popup behind first base that was lost in the sun — followed with a shot over third base that brought home Morris with the game-winning run.
Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
"Obviously, it's early," said South coach Kyle Kraemer, chuckling when he was asked if either he or Tecumseh coach Ted Thompson had dogs at home that might be kicked as a result of that seventh inning. "[Tecumseh] is gonna be a pretty good 1A team.
"[Thompson] wants to test his kids early [Tecumseh's other game this season was against another 4A school, Evansville Harrison] and they fought and fought and fought. But give our kids some credit for battling back."
South scored single runs in the first two innings — a run-scoring fielder's choice by Kline in the first and an RBI single by Rutledge in the second — but each time the visiting Braves matched those runs. South pitchers walked the leadoff batter in four of the first five innings — "Our pitchers have got to throw more strikes," Kraemer said later, pointing to nine walks for the game — and the visitors ran the bases aggressively.
South broke away in the bottom of the third. Stultz's first infield hit preceded back-to-back doubles by McFarland and Max Scamihorn, then a spate of wildness by Tecumseh relievers that resulted in RBI walks by Huckaby and Morris. That 6-2 lead became 8-2 thanks to sacrifice flies by Scamihorn in the fourth and Briley Ogsbury in the sixth.
The takeaway from the game?
"We played," Kraemer said. "[2020 South graduate] Owen Findley was here watching, after his senior season was wiped out last year, and he would have loved to have played."