By Brian Woodson
For The Register-Herald
COAL CITY —
It took nearly a week for PikeView and Independence to finally claim their sectional championships, largely because of persistent rain.
Why not a second day in pursuit of a regional title, and a trip to Charleston?
“We can regroup now and get everything back together,” PikeView junior catcher Hunter Moses said. “We will be fine.”
PikeView and Independence were tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning on Thursday evening when the skies opened and rain drenched Joseph H. Goddard Field, suspending the Region 3 championship game until today at 6:30 p.m.
“It has been a real good baseball game, they got some key hits and I was really glad we battled back and tied the game back up,” Independence baseball coach Scott Cuthbert said. “It is tough to play a continuation game both ways. It is really tough on both teams, we will just have to see what happens from this point.”
Independence (18-8), which rallied from a 3-1 deficit, had put the first two runners on base in the fifth when the game was stopped.
“We can’t get rid of the rain, we have had it all year,” Moses said. “We are holding up good. We have to regroup and hit the ball, we can come back.”
PikeView coach Josh Wyatt would have preferred the suspension come before those batters reached base off starting pitcher Kevin Cottle.
“Absolutely, but we were managing the game well,” Wyatt said. “Independence is who everybody told us they were, and what we thought they were.”
PikeView (23-10) answered a first inning run by the Patriots with three runs of their own. Cottle singled, and courtesy runner Adam Holdren moved up on a passed ball, reached third on a ground ball and scored when freshman right fielder Tanner Ray let a line drive by Jon Clark deflect off his glove.
Carter Shrewsbury would follow with a two-out double that dropped just inside the left field line to bring in Clark. Keian Lee followed with a single to left for the 3-1 lead.
PikeView managed just two baserunners over the next three innings, going down in order in the fifth on three strikeouts, many on curveballs out of the zone by Independence pitcher Jeremy McGinnis.
“We have got to start hitting the ball, early in the game we were great, but I think what happened getting things rolling got to us and we became anxious at the plate,” Wyatt said. “Hitting is very contagious and you can’t want it, you have got to make things happen and we started chasing curveballs.
“That last inning we go down 1, 2, 3, and they strike out the side and there wasn’t one curveball strike. We kind of killed ourselves there, but we are in the championship game. We have got to come back tomorrow and settle down and get back in this.”
Independence, which scored in the first when Drew D’Angelo doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Andrue Hughart, added a run in the second when Brian Sexton singled and eventually scored on a single from Ryan Brandsetter.
The Patriots tied the score in the third when Wyatt Adkins and Hughart singled, and Adkins scored on a sacrifice fly by Brad Huffman.
Independence, which entered the game having scored 96 runs in its last eight games, had six hits off Cottle. He had struck out one and walked one.
“We have been scoring runs, we were still pretty confident and we still had several innings to play,” Cuthbert said. “The Cottle boy is a real good pitcher and he locates pitches really well and he has kept our guys off-balanced a little bit.”
With a steady drizzle slowly turning into a downpour, D’Angelo drew a walk to lead off the fifth and Adkins followed with a shot to center, which Shrewsbury was unable to field, possibly because of the conditions, with Adkins moving to third.
The umpire immediately stopped the game at that point, and after a nine-minute delay, suspended the game until today.
“They hit the ball hard, Carter makes that play in center field, he comes up with that ball,” Wyatt said. “We have got to look at it, it is still a 0-0 ball game in the regional championship and we have to come out here and limit and try to get out of this jam.”
PikeView was led at the plate by Moses, who had two singles, one of which came on the first pitch of the game. The Panthers had runners picked off first base in each of the first two innings.
McGinnis had allowed five hits, while striking out six and walking one.
“I don’t know yet,” said Cuthbert, when asked if McGinnis would return to the mound. “We will have to see how he feels and see how our other guys feel. It is tough on the pitching to do that. We will see tomorrow hopefully, tomorrow’s weather doesn’t look good either.
Independence was paced by Adkins with two singles, and the 21st double of the season for D’Angelo, who entered the game batting .526.
“When you make it this far everybody is good at this point so we will just have to see what happens,” Cuthbert said. “Now we have to play that three inning game.”
PikeView faced a similar scenario in claiming the sectional title against James Monroe. The Panthers led 3-2 in the third when the game was suspended by rain. They returned the next day, fell behind 5-3 and the rains fell again. The Panthers returned five days later and eventually defeated the Mavericks in eight innings to claim the crown.
“This has been become a recurring theme, last week we were doing this and came back and we were down,” Wyatt said. “We are very knowledgeable team, a scrappy team, we know where we are at, we have got to settle down at the plate and start swinging at better pitches.
“I feel like we gave them two innings swinging as bad pitches and we have got to come back and take care of that in our last two at-bats.”
—Contact Brian Woodson