The Greenwood baseball team expected pitching depth and stout defense to be its strengths this season.
It rode both to a district sweep Thursday night.
The Gators (6-4, 3-0 District 14) finished a doubleheader against Bowling Green with a 4-1 victory in the nightcap at BGHS, claiming three wins over their cross-town rival in two days.
“I don’t think we made an error all series,” Greenwood coach Jason Jaggers said. “The pitchers threw strikes, but when we had some walks, we seemed to find a way to battle out. We hit the ball hard all week and fought. We want to give ourselves a chance, and that’s what they did.”
Greenwood won the first game of the doubleheader 7-5 in eight innings after beating the Purples 3-0 on Wednesday at GHS.
That was the Gators’ first win over Bowling Green (4-5, 0-3) since April 2010, and this is the first time Greenwood has won three games against BG in a season since at least 2002, which is when the KHSAA started keeping full baseball records.
Greenwood has allowed nine total runs in its six wins.
“Defense is our strong point,” senior outfielder Stephen Bratcher said. “We’ve got gloves everywhere. We’ve got everything you need. The pitching and catching is there, and our bats are there if we need them, but our main focus is just our defense.”
The Gators bookended the three-game series with stellar pitching performances by seniors Dexter Cline and Tanner Kirby.
They combined to allow eight hits, four walks and one run in 121/3 innings with 13 strikeouts. Senior Trevor Brewer, the team’s No. 2 starter, took a no-decision in Thursday’s first game.
Sophomore reliever Noah Edmonson pulled double-duty on the mound, earning the win in the opener and securing Kirby’s victory in the second.
“It’s such an honor to be able to play out here against them,” Edmonson said. “They’re great competition, so it’s a confidence booster for us. God gave me the opportunity, and I’m just glad I executed.”
Kirby allowed six hits, two walks and a run with four strikeouts in 51/3 innings before giving way to Edmonson.
He left with a 2-1 lead after an RBI groundout by Cline in the fourth inning and a run scored on an error by junior second baseman Nick Sanders in the fifth. The lone run charged to Kirby came on a wild pitch by Edmonson in the sixth.
“We’re confident in all our guys,” Jaggers said. “Noah wants the ball in his hand. He lights up and gets a big grin on his face every time I call his number, and Tanner is a great pitcher when he just relaxes. He kept us in the ballgame and got us out of some tough spots.”
Senior third baseman Jake Riley paced Greenwood at the plate with three hits, while Bratcher provided a cushion with a two-run double in the seventh.
“Any time you can beat a district opponent is huge, and to start out 3-0 is big,” Jaggers said. “But with nine more district games, we haven’t won any trophies yet.”
Greenwood hosts Elizabethtown at 5 p.m. today.
Senior Daulton Potter took the loss for Bowling Green after allowing two runs and five hits in five innings.
The Purples – who have lost five in a row – are off until April 5 when they’ll compete in the Bowling Green/Warren County Invitational at various in-town sites. GHS, Warren East and Warren Central will also compete in that event.
“We still have a long way to go,” BGHS coach Dan Mosier said. “I think we have a lot of ability, but we’re just making way too many mistakes that make it difficult to win a ballgame. We’re giving too many free bases and we’ve got too many noncompetitive at-bats right now.
“I’m not going to push the panic button, but we’ve got to make some adjustments. It’s all stuff we’ve talked about before, so it’s a matter of execution.”
GHS 0 0 0 1 1 0 2 - 4 7 0
BGHS 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 - 1 6 2
WP: Kirby LP: Potter
Greenwood 7, Bowling Green 5, 8 innings (Game 1)
The Gators lost a multiple-run lead twice before pulling out an extra-inning victory in the first game of the night.
Greenwood led 3-0 after the first inning and opened a 5-3 advantage in the seventh, but Bowling Green rallied both times.
The Gators sealed the win with two runs in the eighth inning when Cline recorded an RBI single and senior outfielder Chris Hardin scored on a wild pitch.
GHS scored three runs in the first with an RBI double by Hardin, an RBI single by Brewer and a walk by Kirby with the bases loaded.
Junior outfielder Hunter Rogers and senior outfielder Ben Morrison added a run-scoring double and single, respectively, in the bottom of the third for Bowling Green to cut its deficit to 3-2. Potter tied it in the fourth by scoring on a wild pitch.
Greenwood answered in the seventh with an RBI single by Cline, who later scored on a wild pitch, but the Purples stayed alive with run-scoring singles by junior catcher Seaton Sheldon and sophomore pinch-hitter Joseph McIntyre.
Edmonson got the win in 12/3 innings of relief for Greenwood.
“I have some major confidence in our defense,” Edmonson said. “We’re stellar back there. We play our hearts out, and I love playing with these guys.”
Brewer started for the Gators and allowed five walks, four hits and three runs in four innings with eight strikeouts. Brewer and Cline each had three hits.
Rogers paced the Purples with two hits, two walks and two runs scored. Senior Chris McDaniel earned the loss with four runs allowed in four innings after replacing the starter Morrison.
GHS 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 - 7 9 0
BGHS 0 0 2 1 0 0 2 0 - 5 8 0
WP: Edmonson LP: McDaniel
Warren East 1, South Warren 0
The Raiders made one run stand Thursday against South Warren, turning the tables on the Spartans in a shutout victory at WEHS.
Warren East (2-6, 1-1 District 14) used an RBI single by Landon Stracener in the bottom of the second to make up for Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to South Warren at Greenwood High School.
East’s only other hit Thursday was a single by Cody Flora in the sixth. WEHS pitcher Blake Carpenter went the distance on the mound and surrendered four hits and three walks in seven innings, while striking out two.
Wes King took the loss for the Spartans (5-2, 1-1) despite limiting the Raiders to two hits and one run over six innings.
The teams will finish their three-game series at 5:30 p.m. today at South Warren.
SWHS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 4 0
WEHS 0 1 0 0 0 0 x - 1 2 0
WP: Carpenter LP: King