Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports
MAN Second seed Sherman fought off elimination for the fourth consecutive game with an 11-run first inning that surprised and silenced the home crowd at William Tootie Carter Field Saturday evening.
Sherman scored 13 runs in the first two innings and held off a furious Man rally to defeat the Hillbillies 13-9 forcing a decisive third game for the Class A Region 4 Section 1 championship.
The Tide (22-8) won a fourth straight elimination game and is one win away from a sectional championship and a berth in next week’s Class A Region 4 championships.
Sherman fell to Buffalo, 7-5, on May 10, but rebounded to eliminate county rival Van, 10-9, on May 11. The Tide made quick work of Tug Valley, defeating the Panthers 16-0 in five innings on May 12 and avenged a loss to Buffalo, defeating the Bison 2-1 on May 13.
Sherman plated 11 runs on 10 hits in the first inning as Man (19-9) used three pitchers in the opening frame.
Caleb Blevins started for Man and retired two of the eight batters he faced. Blevins hit the first batter of the game on the first pitch, allowed six runs on four hits while striking out one and walking one in 2/3 innings.
Caleb Vance relived Blevins and failed to register an out. Vance faced six batters and allowed five runs on five hits and hit one batter. Bo Thompson then allowed a single before striking out Austin Davies to end the inning.
Holden Allen started the scoring for the Tide with a long single off the left field fence. Three batters later, Jared Butcher singled to extend Sherman’s lead to 2-0.
AJ Skeens had a two out two-run single to make it 4-0 and Cole Whitehead’s single increased the Tide advantage to 5-0.
Clay Massey drove in three with a bases clearing double to put Sherman ahead 8-0. An Allen RBI single brought home the ninth run and Butcher’s two-run single brought home the 10th and 11th runs.
Butcher and Massey each drove in three runs in the opening frame and Allen and Skeens drove in two runs each. Allen, Butcher and Massey each had two hits in the first for the Tide.
Man got three runs back in the bottom of the first inning as the Hillbillies got a run-scoring double from Blevins to make it 11-1 and Preston Blankenship followed with a two-run single to trim the deficit to 11-3 after one inning.
Sherman plated two runs in the second inning getting an RBI single from Whitehead and a run-scoring double from Massey, who drove in his fourth run in two innings, to make it 13-3.
Man pulled within six runs, 13-7, with four runs of their own in the second. Just like the first inning, Blevins and Blankenship had a role in the four-run Hillbilly second.
Blevins started the scoring with a two-run double and Blankenship followed with a two-run home run over the center field fence.
Man pushed across two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning as Jace Adkins and Blevins drew bases loaded walks to bring Man within four, 13-9, after six innings.
In the seventh, Adkins would reach on an error and Blevins would single to give the Hillbillies runners on first and third with two outs. In an interesting move, Sherman coach Jeremiah Pettry elected to intentionally walk Blankenship and load the bases for Brady Hall-Montgomery.
The risky move paid off as Allen, who was the starting pitcher but pulled after recording one out in the first only to come back in relief in the fifth, got Hall-Montgomery to strike out swinging for the final out.
Allen was the winning pitcher for Sherman after allowing three runs on five hits. Allen struck out five and walked five in three innings. AJ Skeens tossed 3 2/3 innings of relief allowing four runs, only one earned, on five hits. Skeens struck out one, walked one and hit three batters. Jared Butcher allowed two runs on one hit and walked three in 1/3 inning.
Massey had three hits, two of which doubles, and drove in four at the plate for Sherman. Butcher had two hits and drove in three runs while Whitehead had two singles, a triple, scored three times and drove in two runs.
Allen and Skeens each had two hits and two RBIs for Sherman, who also got two hits from Logan Green and one hit from Josh Jenkins.
Thompson pitched well in relief for Man allowing two runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings. Thompson struck out five, walked two and hit one. Blankenship tossed two innings of hitless relief striking out four and walking two.
Man had 11 hits in the contest with Blankenship and Blevins combining for six of those hits. Blankenship had three hits including a two-run home run and drove in four runs while Blevins had a single, a pair of doubles and four RBIs for the Hillbillies.
Miller and Thompson each had two hits for Man, who also got one hit and one RBI from Adkins.