DES ARC — Famous baseball manager and general manager Branch Rickey once said "baseball is a game of inches." Well, he was very prophetic when it came to the finals of the 2A-6 district tournament.
Hazen’s Drake Ingle hit a bloop single, which found the left field line, with two outs, driving in Cody Kee with the winning run as the Hornets beat the Carlisle Bison 3-2 to win the district tournament Monday in eight innings.
Carlisle (15-5) looked like it was going to escape the eighth inning after turning a 1-5-3 double play on a sacrifice attempt. Ingle then hit a two-strike pitch down the third base line and the ball hit the line, sending chalk flying.
Carlisle coach William Rountree said his team had several chances but there were other things in the game they couldn’t count on.
"You can’t really factor in the double play we turned," he said. "Bradley Elder made a heckuva catch in right field, where we lose Tyler Young to a freak injury. He’s one of our better players."
Rountree was referring to the bottom of the seventh. With one out and a runner on second base, Hazen’s Hunter Ingle hit a fly ball into right field. Elder and Young, who was playing second base, collided as Elder caught the baseball for the second out of the inning.
Young appeared to be knocked unconscious. He was taken to an area hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion, broken nose and a broken bone under his eye. Elder stayed in the game but was eventually diagnosed with a concussion.
Hazen pitcher Gage Johnson went the distance, allowing two runs — one earned — in eight innings of work. He allowed six hits while striking out 11.
"Gage Johnson pitched a great game," Rountree said. "I’ll tell you what kind of pitcher Gage is. Our better hitters in the lineup weren’t hitting the ball hard. As we went down, we had a lot of strikeouts. That’s a tribute to him."
At the same time, Rountree was pleased with the pitching of starter Josh Mathis and reliever Chris Hart. They combined to give up only three runs on 11 hits. Bison pitching struck out five.
"I thought both of our pitchers threw well," Rountree said. "Mathis was sick for a couple of days. We weren’t real sure what we’d get out of him. I thought he gave us five great innings. Chris pitched three good innings."
Carlisle got on the board with a run in the top of the first. Hart reached on an error and scored on a single by Dylan Brazeal. Hazen took a 2-1 lead with two runs in the bottom of the first. Johnson reached on an infield single and Chase VanHouten reached on a bunt single. They both scored later in the inning.
The Bison tied the game at 2-2 on a solo homer by Jacob Gordon to lead off the top of the second.
"We’ve improved so much this year," Rountree said. "Hazen’s got a good team."
The Bison will attempt to extend their season when they play the Poyen Indians in the first round of the Class 2A East Region Tournament at Poyen on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
If the Bison, win they will play Saturday at noon. The third-place game is Monday at noon. The championship game is Monday at 2:30 p.m. If Carlisle beats Poyen, it will qualify for the Class 2A state tournament next week at Parkers Chapel.
"We’re going into the one game of the year where there is some real pressure," Rountree said. "It is win or go home."
Bison 7, Patriots 6
The Carlisle Bison scored a run in the bottom of the 10th as they edged the Palestine-Wheatley Patriots 7-6 in the semifinals of the 2A-6 district tournament Friday at Des Arc.
Carlisle led 6-3 after four innings. Chris Hart scored two runs. Austin Reed, Deron Ricks, Dominic Castleberry and Bradley Elder each scored.
The Patriots scored once in the sixth and twice in the seventh— both unearned — to tie the game at 6-6.
The score remained the same until the bottom of the 10th. Elder, Nick Schafer and Josh Mathis each had singles to end the game as Elder scored the game-winner.