Pacers rally to defeat Shawe in extra innings, 7-6

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Eric Johnson’s single to centerfield in the bottom of the eighth inning scored Connor Osowski to give the Switzerland County varsity baseball team a 7-6 win over the Madison Shawe Hilltoppers on Monday night.

Switzerland County had to rally to pick up the conference win, trailing by three after the Hilltoppers plated four runs in the top of the third inning, the Pacers responded with five runs in their half of the third to retake the lead.

Eric Johnson led off the third by reaching on an error by the Hilltopper third baseman, the advanced to third when pitcher Michael Kring’s pickoff throw was wild. After Danny Schira flew out to center, Eric Johnson scored on a single by Josh Yeary. Travis Tackett’s single then moved Josh Yeary to second, but Celby Kinney flew out to center for the second out of the inning.

The Pacers then caught a break, as Allen Chase struck out, but the Shawe catcher couldn’t hold on to the pitch, and the Pacer first baseman reached to load the bases. Connor Osowski then doubled deep into the right centerfield gap, clearing the bases and putting the Pacers back in front by a 5-4 score. Kendall Otter then doubled to left centerfield, scoring Connor Osowski and pushing the Pacers further in front, 6-4.

Shawe bounced right back, scoring two runs in the top of the fourth to tie the game at 6-6, and then the contest turned into a pitcher’s duel, as Switzerland County freshman Collin Burgess and Shawe’s Michael Kring held both offenses in check.

Celby Kinney replaced Collin Burgess on the mound in the top of the sixth, and held the lead while picking up a strikeout.

Shawe rallied in the top of the seventh, putting two runners on after consecutive singles. Pacer coach Chris Mattox then replaced Celby Kinney with Travis Tackett on the mound, and the senior proceeded to strikeout the first Hilltopper batter he faced to end the threat.

Switzerland County had a chance in the bottom of the seventh, as Danny Schira reached on a walk and then stole second, but when Josh Yeary’s grounder to the right side was fielded by Michael Kring, the Shawe pitcher wheeled and threw out Danny Schira trying to reach third.

With two outs Josh Yeary then stole second, and Shawe chose to intentionally walk Travis Tackett to set up a force. Connor Osowski then had an infield single to load the bases, but Allen Chase popped out to the shortstop to send the game to extra innings.

“Anytime you get a win in league play, you’ve got to be happy,” Pacer coach Chris Mattox said after the game. “I’m pretty happy with the last inning rally. I’m really pleased with the way Travis Tackett came in and threw strikes at the end. It would have been easy to lose focus for a minute with guys on base, let them push them over and get them in. Then you put yourself in a situation where you lose the game.”

Even in the victory, the Switzerland County coach still saw room for improvement from his team.

“We’re still making way too many mistakes,” he said. “I felt like this is a game that very easily gone the other way. We’re still not making the plays that we need to make on a consistent basis if we’re going to be a good team.”

The coach also had praise for his entire team.

“Overall it was collective effort,” Coach Mattox said of his squad. “I was really pleased with the way Travis pitched. He hasn’t had the chance to pitch a whole lot in his career. He’s always been a catcher and we’ve had to have him behind the plate, so he hasn’t had much of a chance to pitch. I’m very pleased with the way he played.”

Switzerland County returns to action tomorrow (Friday) night when the Pacers travel to Rising Sun. The game begins at 5 p.m.

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Switzerland County eighth grader Chase Ritch contributed to this article.