The post season run of the Switzerland County Pacer varsity baseball team came to an end last Saturday afternoon with a 12-1 loss to Southridge High School at the Regional tournament held at Austin High School.
Coming off of three big Sectional wins, the Pacers got off to a quick start on Saturday, scoring a run in the top of the first inning.
Senior Kenyon Bledsoe drilled the first pitch he saw into rightfield for a single; then moved to second when Cade Rider grounded out to the third baseman. Austin South then ripped a single to centerfield that moved Bledsoe to third; and Kyle Whitham then hit a grounder to second that allowed Bledsoe to score.
The inning ended with Patrick Stow grounded out to third.
Up by a run, the Pacers then went on defense against the high-powered Raider offense; and Colin Smith got Southridge rolling with a walk. Tucker Schank then hit a roller past Pacer second baseman Coby Blanton, with Smith moving on to third.
Schank then stole second, and it looked like Southridge would knot the score at 1-1 when Colson Montgomery hit a grounder on the second base side of Pacer shortstop Bledsoe.
But the senior fielded the grounded and threw a strike to catcher South at the plate, nailing Smith who was trying to score for the first out.
Still with two on, Southridge then did some damage when cleanup hitter Chase Taylor hit an RBI double to deep leftfield to give the Raiders the lead. Jayce Harter was then hit by a pitch from Switzerland County hurler Whitham, and Southridge got another run when Blanton couldn’t handle a grounder at second hit by Joe LaGrange.
Max Sermersheim followed that with a double to deep left centerfield, scoring two more; but Whitham settled down and got Justin Lammers to ground out to short. Camden Gasser then drew a walk, but Smith hit a fly ball to deep center than Rider hauled in to end the inning.
After one inning, Southridge led by a score of 5-1.
From there the defenses for both teams took over, as neither team was able to score over the next few innings.
In the top of the second, designated hitter Kaleb Harrell grounded out to third; Zach Weaver then singled to center;and then Nate Thomas hit a grounder to shortstop that looked like a doubleplay, but the Southridge second baseman was off the bag before throwing on to first, with the umpire ruling Harrell safe at second — but he was stranded there as Blanton struck out swinging.
Whitham began to mow down the Southridge hitters, and in the bottom of the second Schank grounded back to Whitham before Montgomery walked. Taylor then popped up to Whitham on the mound for the second out; and Harter duplicated that with a pop up to Whitham that closed the inning.
In the top of the third,Bledsoe grounded out to shortstop; and Rider ripped a ball that the third baseman couldn’t handle for a single. South followed that with a single to left, but then was the second out of the inning when Whitham grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Rider moving to third.
With runners on the corners, Switzerland County saw another scoring opportunity slip away when stow grounded out to first.
Whitham continued his strong pitching in the bottom of the third, as LaGrange popped out to Stow at third; but Sermersheim doubled to left centerfield. Lammers then flew out to right; and the threat ended when Gasser flew out to left.
Switzerland County saw another potential big inning slip away in the top of the fourth. After Harrell flew out to center; leftfielder Weaver smacked a single to left.
With the hit and run on, Weaver took off for second on an attempted steal, but Thomas popped the pitch up to third. As coaches yelled to Weaver to return to first, he couldn’t make it back in time, and was doubled off for the third out.
That led to the bottom of the fourth, where Southridge again got its offense rolling.
Smith led off the inning and hit a fly ball to shallow rightfield that fell between second baseman Blanton, first baseman Thomas, and rightfielder Dustin Wallace for a seeing-eye single. Smith then proceeded to steal second, giving the Raiders an early scoring threat.
Schank then drew a walk; and Montgomery followed that with an RBI single to right. Taylor then ripped his second double of the game to leftfield, scoring two more.
At that point Pacer coach Chad Combs made a pitching changer, bringing Bledsoe the mound and putting Whitham at shortstop.
Harter greeted the new Pacer pitcher with an RBI single to left; and LaGrange had an RBI single to right.
Switzerland County then recorded its first out of the inning when Sermersheim flew out to rightfield; but Lammers followed that with a perfect hit-and-run situation, scoring LaGrange and moving to second on the throw. Gasser then singled past the shortstop; and Smith was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Switzerland County almost caught a break when Schank hit a laser to second that Blanton caught, and then dove for the second base bag in an attempt to double off Gasser, but the Southridge infielder beat him to the base.
With two outs and the bases still loaded, Montgomery drew a walk that forced in another run; and the inning finally ended when Taylor hit a blast to deep centerfield that Rider tracked down for the third out.
After four complete innings, Southridge led Switzerland County 12-1. Under IHSAA rules, the game ends if a team trails by 10 or more runs after they bat five times — so Switzerland County had to score at least two runs in the top of the fifth to extend the game.
Blanton led off the inning with a ground out to short for the first out; but Bledsoe followed that with a single to left to give the Pacers life.
Rider then flew out to the rightfielder, but South launched a single to center that moved Bledsoe on to third.
That brought Whitham to the plate, and he hit a blast to left that the Southridge defender flagged down — accounting for the third out of the inning and closing the game with the Pacers on the short end of a 12-1 score.
North Posey won the first game of the Regional with a win over Clarksville; but Southridge came back for the title game later on Saturday to defeat North Posey by a score of 12-2 to claim the Regional title. Southridge (24-6) now heads to the Jasper Semistate this Saturday, where the Raiders will play Indianapolis Scecina Memorial at 1 p.m.
Switzerland County players Bledsoe and South were honored for their efforts on Saturday by earning spots on the All Regional team.