The season of the Switzerland County Pacer baseball team came to an unmemorable end on Memorial Day, as a controversial call in the final inning ended the game with Milan in front 5-4, and with it came the conclusion of the Pacer season.
The game was the semifinal of the Class 2A Sectional being held at Austin, and allowed Milan to advance to the championship game, where the Indians fell to the host Eagles 2-0 on Memorial Day night.
Switzerland County got off to a solid start behind the pitching of senior Casper Stow; and the offense got rolling in the second.
Junior Kyle Whitham got things going with a walk; and that was followed by single by sophomore Tyler Konkle that put runners on first and second.
Milan’s pitcher was then called for a balk, advancing the Pacer runners to second and third; and Whitham then scored moments later on a wild pitch. Konkle tried to score on the same wild pitch, but was caught in a rundown for the inning’s first out.
With two outs in the inning, Kenyon Bledsoe ripped a double to the gap; and he would score soon after when Coby Blanton singled, giving the Pacers a 2-0 lead.
Milan countered with a double in the bottom of the third to post a scoring threat, but Stow got the third out on a key strikeout, keeping the lead at two.
The Indians then got a run in the bottom of the fourth on a triple and a single; but it was the bottom of the fifth when Milan struck hardest.
After a leadoff double, was followed by another double, the game was tied at 2-2 and Pacer head coach Chad Combs went to the mound and brought in Whitham to pitch, but the change didn’t slow Milan, as the Indians collected three more hits in the stanza to pull ahead to a 5-2 advantage after five innings.
The sixth inning saw Switzerland County again notch the scoreboard, as Whitham earned a walk and then came around to score when Konkle ripped a liner down the third base line.
Milan then went quietly in the bottom of the sixth, setting up a wild seventh.
Blanton got things going with a walk, and Milan made a pitching change. Patrick Stow then a fly ball for the inning’s first out; but Blanton moved to second on a passed ball. Junior Austin South then drew a walk, putting two Pacers on base; and a wild pitch soon after scored Blanton to cut the lead to one, 5-4, and moved South to second. Casper Stow then reached on an error, advancing South to third, and Switzerland County had runners on the corners with just one out – and the tying run a short scamper from the plate.
Senior Dalton Roark came to bat, and Coach Combs put on the suicide squeeze play in an effort to bring South home.
The Milan pitch was wide, and Roark reached across the plate in an effort to make contact as South raced down the line.
The homeplate umpire called batter interference when Roark made contact with the Milan catcher on the play, resulting in the second out of the inning.
But, in what should have been called a dead ball once Roark crossed over the plate – sending South back to third base now with two outs – suddenly went south when the umpire declared Austin South out at the plate, and the resulting double play ended the game and the season.
Casper Stow suffered the loss, pitching 4 1/3-innings, allowing three earned runs and seven hits.