They say that a double play is the pitcher’s best friend in baseball.
If that’s true, North Decatur hurler Luke Perdue found a lifelong buddy in last Wednesday’s Sectional baseball game versus Switzerland County.
The Pacers fell by a final score of 5-3 to end their season, but it was the crazy way that the game ended that many will remember.
Down 5-2 heading into their final at-bat, Switzerland County got a kick start when Matt Roland opened the stanza with a line drive single to centerfield. Dalton Roark then followed that with a long single to left; and when hitter Casper Stow was hit by a pitch moments later, Coach Chad Combs’ team had the bases loaded with no one out.
Senior Douglas Ray came to the plate, and hit a screaming liner to the second base side of shortstop.
The Chargers shortstop, Cory Fasbinder, gloved the liner, but it bounced off his glove and to the ground.
The Pacer runners were frozen, making sure that the ball went through the infield before advancing, but when the ball dropped, everyone raced to the next base.
Fasbinder threw the ball to the North Decatur second baseman, who forced Stow; and then threw on to third, where third baseman Austin Brown applied the tag to Roark.
In scorebook language, one doesn’t often see a 6-4-5 doubleplay.
Roland scored on the play to narrow the lead to 5-3, and Ray reached first base, but the air of the Pacer rally was clearing let out.
Ryan Brubaker’s shot back through the middle was fielded by Perdue, and he threw on to first for the final out.
It was a close game throughout, with the Chargers getting on the board first with two runs in the tope of the second inning.
Switzerland County answered in the bottom of the second, with Ray ripping a single to center, followed by a single down the leftfield line by Brubaker. Kyle Whitham then laid down a sacrifice, but Ray was knocked off the bases; and when Jacob Turner drew a walk, Switzerland County had the bases loaded with two outs.
Stow then drilled a double to center that plated two runs; and Justin Johnson followed that with a walk.
With a big rally brewing, Roland hit a rocket that looked like it was leaving the yard, but the Charger leftfielder backed his way to the fence and hauled in the shot with a ‘snow cone’ catch.
The scored stayed tied at 2-2 through the third and fourth innings; but North Decatur got two more runs in the top of the fifth on a single, a blooper to right that Pacer second baseman Zach Whitaker couldn’t get to; and another single to center.
The Pacers tried to match that in the bottom of the fifth, as Roark reached on an infield single and then stole second. Whitaker then hit a ball to left that the Charger player couldn’t corral, leading to a two-base error and Switzerland County runners on second and third with one out.
Ray then fouled out to first on an outstanding play by the Charger first baseman, and Brubaker had the final out of the inning when he popped out to the shortstop.
A scoreless sixth set the stage for the high-powered seventh inning, but Switzerland County couldn’t overcome the tough luck on the base paths.