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Posted May 24, 2010 | Leave a comment
Close encounters: Reid makes most of second chance, sparks Sherando
By Greg Brill - email@example.com
STEPHENS CITY -- When he was pulled from Saturday's Northwestern District baseball semifinal with Skyline following a frustrating sixth inning at-bat ending with a strikeout and a tossed batting helmet in the dugout, Sherando senior catcher Derek Reid had to wonder if he would get a chance to redeem himself.
What a relief it must have been for Reid when the top-seeded Warriors mounted a rally an inning later, and Sherando coach Pepper Martin gave Reid just that kind of opportunity when he re-entered the slugger to hit with his team down two runs.
Reid got just the pitch he wanted from Joe Bass and lined a single into left field to drive in Dominique Porter and Tre Porter for a walk-off, 7-6, win for Sherando.
"I just over-reacted, [Martin] put me back in and I just got the job done," Reid said. "It was all about keeping my weight back [on the game-winning hit] and I finally learned to do that."
The Warriors (17-4) scored the game's final five runs and four in their last at-bat -- aided by two Skyline errors -- to move into Tuesday's 6 p.m. championship game with Handley (9-13), a last-inning, 4-3 winner Saturday over Millbrook.
Martin said that Reid has often been hard on himself when a plate appearance has not gone well. Martin said he was content to use backup catcher Andrew Moore to hit, but assistant coach Tom Carney encouraged him to allow Reid to bat again.
"[Reid] puts too much pressure on himself," Martin said. "He expects to be perfect. It's a team game and if you're not getting the job done, you rely on your teammates to pick it up and get the job done for you. He was showing a little bit of disgust [after striking out]. We've covered this, he didn't put his batting helmet away, and he was removed from the game."
After getting roughed up for three extra-base hits and falling behind 2-0 in the first, Bass came back and kept the Hawks competing with crafty pitching. The sophomore left-hander relied on his off-speed pitches and locating well. The Warriors struggled to adjust and trailed 6-2 with two outs in the sixth.
The Warriors got a run back when Brogan Hoover (3-for-3, two RBIs) had a run-scoring single before he was thrown out at second when the relay from the outfield was cut off and sent to the bag to retire Hoover for the final out of the sixth.
Still up three runs, the Hawks (6-16) needed just three outs to pull off a major upset.
When he came back out to start the seventh, Bass was already at 92 pitches. He gave up a four-pitch walk to Erik Albers leading off before Brad Deck hit a routine grounder to shortstop Mike Accettulo near the bag at second. Accettulo bobbled the ball for his second error, and both runners were safe. Bass came back to strike out Jared Bentley with a change-up before Dominique Porter hit a grounder to the left of the mound. Bass charged and made a nice pickup, but his throw to get the out at third was high and forced Ryan Settle to leap and then try to shuffle his feet at the bag, leaving everyone safe.
"The game was on the line there and we just don't make a play," Skyline coach Nick Sborz said.
After walking Tre Porter on a 3-2 pitch to force in Albers, Jacob Carney drew a hit-by-pitch to allow Deck to score and bring on controversy.
The left-handed hitting Carney immediately jumped out of the box and headed down the first base line, while pointing to his left arm to indicate he had been hit. The plate umpire was slow to make his call before he did, in fact, rule Carney had been hit.
After a brief discussion with Sborz, the call held.
"When a guy gets hit by a pitch you're going to flinch a little bit," Sborz said. "If it hits his elbow, it should change direction. The catcher caught the ball."
Reid came up next to deliver his game-winner on the 123rd pitch thrown by Bass.
"Joe ran out of gas there," Sborz said. "I probably should have taken him out. His pitch count was up there, but he had been throwing well all day and he battles for us when he's [out] there. He had got those guys out before and we tried to keep him in there and hope that he could finish."
Bass had a tough start to things. Jacob Carney drilled a one-out double down the first-base line, Reid (2-for-4, three RBIs) followed with an RBI triple to deep center, and Hoover found the gap for a run-scoring triple for a 2-0 lead in the first.
From there, Bass mixed his speeds well and kept the Warriors off balance. With Luke Pingley and Travis Custer not available to pitch after Thursday's 13-inning play-in win over James Wood, Bass ate innings to keep Sherando batters frustrated and give Skyline a chance. He allowed seven runs (three earned), six hits, walked three, and struck out seven.
"I've got to give Joe [Bass] a lot of credit," Martin said. "After the first inning, he was able to get his breaking ball and his change-up back to locate them for strikes. He gutted it up for his team today and he battled.
"My hat's off to him and the whole Skyline team. They got better as the season went along, got a little momentum built up, and won some big games. I tell you what, they gave us all we wanted today and we were fortunate to pull it out."
The Hawks got their bats rolling starting in the third and spent most of the afternoon constantly hitting flys over the heads of Sherando outfielders.
In the third, Ty Helmick (2-for-4, two RBIs) doubled in Skyline's first two runs with his gapper to left. Custer led off the fourth with a triple over Hoover's head in center and a suicide squeeze by George Carter got the go-ahead run in for a 3-2 lead.
Zach Carney (who got the winning decision) came on to relieve Bentley to begin the fifth and was not quite as dominant as he had been in a start the week before at Skyline. In the sixth, Carter ripped a one-out single and No. 9 batter Rodney Custer hit another deep gapper, this one to left-center for an RBI double. Back to the top, Accettulo got a pitch to drive and his fly kept carrying until it left the field in center for a two-run homer.
When the Warriors finally got out of the sixth, Reid said Martin "called out" the team and inspired them to come back to win.
Martin confirmed as much.
"After Accettulo's home run I did not like the body language which I saw out on the field from the whole team," Martin said. "I told them 'It looks like you've quit, like you've given up. Prove me wrong.' It was like, 'Oh, we're in trouble.'"
Reid and his teammates followed through and took the words to heart.
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