By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
COAL CITY —
Independence’s Drew D’Angelo and Wyatt Adkins weren’t too familiar with the Patriots’ rivalry with Liberty before they transferred to Indy from Oak Hill this season.
Now they’re right in the middle of it.
After losing the first matchup of the two teams this season, the Patriots have won the last two games, including a 16-6 battle Thursday evening in the second game of the Class AA Region 3, Section 1 tournament.
“I didn’t realize just how big it was until this year,” D’Angelo said. “It’s a lot like Oak Hill and Fayetteville. I’m not going to say we don’t like each other ... but it is a big rival.”
“It’s great,” Adkins said. “I mean, we had kind of a little bit of a rival at Oak Hill, but coming here, this is big. It gets you amped up a little bit.”
Adkins, D’Angelo and the rest of the Patriots must have been amped. They scored 16 runs on 14 hits in just six innings of baseball.
Things did, however, look shaky for Independence in the first inning. Liberty’s Dylan Keel hit a double, knocking home a run to put the Raiders up 1-0. Then Liberty’s Jordan Atkins sat down D’Angelo, Adkins and Andrue Hughart in order.
That’s when Indy’s Brian Sexton took over.
Sexton made short work of the bottom of Liberty’s lineup in the second inning and then hit a home run to left field, bringing in Brad Huffman to give the Patriots a 2-1 lead.
It was the beginning of a rally that would see Independence hit through the lineup and score six runs.
“That was a big hit,” Independence coach Scotty Cuthbert said. “A few games ago he was really struggling at the plate and finally broke through.”
Adkins hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to give the Patriots a 10-1 lead.
But just as “Back in Black” by AC/DC rang throughout Joseph H. Goddard Field, the bats of the boys in black came alive.
The ever resilient Raiders peppered Independence in the fifth inning, adding five runs, shrinking the Patriot lead to four.
“I kind of started coasting a little bit in the fifth inning and it went bad,” Sexton said. “But we picked it up.”
Independence added five more runs in the fifth to make it 15-6 and one in the sixth on a Tanner Ray shot to center to give the Patriots the all important win in the section.
“It’s always good to win the first one,” D’Angelo said. “You get behind and you’re battling. You get nervous and people start stressing. We’re getting the game out front and going on from here.”
His coach echoed the senior leader’s sentiments.
“It puts you kind of in the driver’s seat,” Cuthbert said. “It makes it tougher because they have to beat you twice now.”
Now the Patriots will do something they’ve done a lot this week — wait.
Independence will play the winner of tonight’s Liberty-Summers County elimination game at 4 p.m. Saturday. Those games will all be played at Goddard Field.
“We’ve just got to stay focused and play our game,” Sexton said. “We’re in the driver’s seat right now. We can’t take anything lightly.”
— E-mail: jrollins@
register-herald.com and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.
L: 100 005 0 — 6 8 5
I: 063 151 x — 16 14 3
L: Jordan Atkins, Seth Prince (4), Robbie Wright (5) and Jake Lacek, I: Brian Sexton and Jeremy McGinnis. WP — Sexton. LP — Atkins. Hitting — L: Austin Lyons 1-4, Dakota Boulet 1-4 (R, RBI), Joey Lacek 2-3 (2 Runs), Dylan Keel 2-3 (2B, 3 RBI), Seth Prince 1-3 (2 RBI), Zac Martin 1-3. I: Drew D’Angelo 2-5 (2 R, RBI), Wyatt Adkins 2-4 (HR, 2 RBI), Andrue Hughart 1-4 (2 RBI), Jeremy McGinnis 1-4 (2 RBI), Brad Huffman 2-2 (2 Runs), Brian Sexton 2-3 (R, HR, RBI), Tanner Muovich 2-4 (RBI), Ryan Brandstetter 1-4, Tanner Ray 2-4 (3 RBI).