HCS & PARTNERS!
Base 4A SECT. 13: Barnes' blast lifts #11 New Pal past Greenwood for title
May 29, 2012By Andrew Smith of Hancock County Sports
By Hancock County Sports
With his team trailing 3-2 and facing its final three outs, Barnes turned on a fastball and launched it well over the leftfield fence at Whiteland for his eighth homer of the year -- the third game-tying or game-winning homer in a seventh inning. Alex Rejer, who led the inning off with a hit, and Brian Page, who walked, also scored on the play, which gave NP a 5-3 lead.
The Dragons followed with three more hits sandwiched around a walk, with Nick Ulrey's bloop single to right plating another run to make it 6-3.
Barnes said he was initially supposed to bunt, but he had two strikes, taking the bunt away. NP coach Shawn Lyons said Barnes told him "I'm 3-for-3 off this kid. I'll hit it," and let him deliver again.
"He's really carried us the last few weeks," Lyons said. "He had a tough start, but through his peseverance, he's battled back to the point where the ball looks as big s a basketball right now."
Clark was able to nail the game down in the bottom of the inning, despite allowing a leadoff double and a two-out walk, inducing a soft line drive from Woodmen leadoff hitter Connor Martin to end the game.
"I was trying to throw strikes and let the defense play behind me, and they did," Clark said. He struck out eight and allowed 10 hits and two earned runs to go to 6-2.
"He did not have one stress-free inning. His pitch count was up," Lyons said. "We stresed him out. He said, 'Coach, I want it.' He just battled. That's one of the best teams we're going to face."
The teams' offenses stole the show early. NP scored in each of its first two at-bats: Alex Rejer led the game off with a walk, was bunted to second by Page and scored on the first of Barnes' four hits in the first. In the second, a leadoff walk to Cameron Clark turned into a run, as Stephen Ochs doubled him to third and Ryan Evans plated the run with a sacrifice fly.
Greenwood answered each -- Martin and Alex Krupa led the bottom of the first off with singles. Martin moved to third on a pitch in the dirt and scored when Krupa attempted to steal second, and the throw to get him kicked off a glove and into short centerfield. Clark was able to avert more runs scoring, and then induced a popup and groundout to leave the bases loaded in the second. Greenwood did knot the game in the third when Ethan Bailey's base hit plated a run.
Both teams missed runner-on-third, 1-out opportunities in the fifth. The Dragons' chance came when Page reached on an error. Barnes followed with a double down the leftfield line, but a perfect throw to the plate gunned down Page trying to score. Clark was able to use one of his 10 strikeouts to get out of a second and third, one-out jam in the bottom of the inning.
Greenwood was able to break through in the sixth after Clark nearly got out of another high-wire act. Greenwood pitcher Tylor Martin led off with a double off the top of the wall in left. He advanced to third on a wild pitch, but Clark fanned the next two batters. However, Landon Fink's two-out single through the right side plated Martin with the go-ahead run for a brief lead.
NP outhit Greenwood 12-10. Barnes (4-4, 2 doubles, HR, 4 RBI) and Ochs (3-3) led the Dragons offensively.
The victory was NP's ninth last at-bat victory of the year, 10th come-from-behind victory of the year and the Dragons' fourth win after trailing entering the seventh inning.
NP is now 23-6 headed into Saturday's regional at Evansville's Bosse Field against the Castle Knights. Greenwood finishes 22-7.