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Southern captures first sectional title

Southern’s Conner Lewis slides into third base with a triple as Badgers’s Tim Steh takes the throw Wednesday. (Morning Journal/Anthony Fiuza)

SALINEVILLE — It was a day of firsts for the seventh-seeded Southern baseball team as it coincidentally had most of its success in the first inning of a 13-1 rout of 14th-seeded Badger on Thursday, making it the first sectional championship victory in school history.

The Indians (14-12) scored eight runs in the opening frame and marched to the beat of a lineup which set the school record for wins in a season.

“Well it’s big. We have a young team, big senior class,” Southern senior Conner Lewis said. “With winning this sectional title I think it’s something to keep striving for when it comes to the younger players in future years.”

The Indians got two RBIs from Lewis, who set a school single-season record with 26 RBIs.

Brock Smalley also made history for the Indians as he picked up his 30th career hit, which is the most for a Southern player in a season.

Sam May and Kamron Ammon each posted two RBIs during the Indians’ win. Teammate Timmy West led the team in RBIs with three.

But, even though the Indian bats came alive, their baserunning became a major thorn in the side for the Braves defense which had four errors.

“There’s been times this year that we’ve made mistakes on the bases, but today the kids were really focused on getting good jumps and running the bases well,” Southern coach Gerard Grimm said.

Badger coach Bill Hamilton said the Indians are a “solid squad” and that if it wasn’t for errors it would have been a different contest. He also noted that Southern’s baserunning created too much damage.

“I think when we got down, my guys weren’t as sharp as they could have been. They (Southern) took advantage of every extra base they got, all the overthrows, and the bobbles,” Hamilton explained.

Southern pitcher Timmy West kept the Badger’s lineup in check with eight strikeouts in five innings of work. He only gave up two hits and one run which came at the top of the first inning.

Jack Lendak had the lone RBI for the Braves.

Game notes

• Southern will play Heartland Christian at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Cene Park on Field No. 1 in a district semifinal. The winner of that game will meet the winner of Lisbon and Warren JFK in the district final.

• Heartland beat Southern twice in the regular season. The victories (7-0 and 3-2) both came on Southern’s field.

• Lewis said it helps to win via the mercy rule because it gives his Southern teammates some extra rest before playing Heartland.

“It’s big. We can rest our pitcher and we’ll get them on Tuesday,” Lewis said.

• He added Southern has to attack the first pitch, have less strikeouts and commit no errors.

• Even though Southern has a younger team, Lewis believes the program can win a championship.

“If we make districts, I think we’ll win it,” he said.

B: 1-0-0-0-0 — 1- 2-4

S: 8-0-1-4-x — 13-11-1

S — Timmy West, wp (5IP, 2H, R, 8K, 0BB) and Aiden Spahlinger.

B — Brad Hamilton, lp (3IP, 7H, 9R, 8ER, K, 3BB), Timothy Steh (IP, 4H, 4R, 0K, 3BB) and Luke Springer.

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