Tuesday, May 01, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Bison win district on slam

Leader sports editor

Carlisle sophomore Deron Ricks got a two-out grand slam in the sixth inning and junior relief pitcher Chris Hart held off a furious McCrory charge in the seventh to lift the Bison to an 8-7 victory Saturday at McCrory and earn the No. 1 seed in the regional tournament this weekend in Poyen.

“We had guys make plays,” Carlisle coach B.J. Greene said. “We made a few mistakes that a good team is going to capitalize on, and McCrory is a good team. But we got base hits and outs when we had to have them.”

It was a shaky beginning for the Bison. The Jaguars took the early lead, scoring two runs in the first and another in the second to go up 3-0.Carlisle committed an error on the first pitch of the game and ace pitcher Trey Wilson walked the next batter. The third batter doubled to score both runs.

“It wasn’t our best start, but Trey’s a good pitcher and he settled down and threw a great game,” Greene said.

Wilson struck out two in the second inning, but not until a another run scored. Wilson walked the leadoff hitter, who stole second and moved to third on a sacrifice grounder. He then scored by sneaking in after a slow throw back to the mound.

“That was just laziness on our part,” Greene said. “We have to be better than that.”

The score stayed 3-0 until Carlisle finally got some offense going in the bottom of the fourth inning and tied the game.

Ricks singled and moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Dylan Brazeal then doubled to drive the run in. Hayden Hoover singled to score Brazeal and Hart singled to score Hoover.

No one scored in the fifth inning and McCrory took a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth with a solo home run. Then came Carlisle’s big inning.

The Bison got five runs, all with two outs, to take an 8-4 lead.

Hoover singled to start things off. Hart walked and Tommy Inman got a base hit to load the bases. Trey Wilson then popped up for the second out of the inning. Deric Herring was hit by a pitch to drive in Hoover and tie the game.

Ricks then worked the count full. With runners on the move, Ricks slammed the 3-2 pitch over the fence in left field.

The celebration didn’t last. Carlisle still had to get three outs and McCrory had some fight left in it.

Wilson walked the Jaguar leadoff hitter in the seventh.

“I went to the mound and told him if that guy gets to second I’m taking you out,” Greene said. “He pitched a great game but that’s what I had to do.”

Wilson got the next batter to hit a grounder to third base that should’ve been a double play ball, but the Bison failed to get the runner at first.

Wilson walked the next batter and Greene put Hart on the mound. The first batter he faced hit a hard line drive that bounced over the left-field fence for a two-RBI ground-rule double that made it 8-6.

Hart responded by striking out the next batter. A blooper to shallow centerfield scored the runner at second to make it 8-7 with two outs and a runner on second base. Hart got the next batter to pop up to second base to seal the victory.

“It’s been a long year,” Greene said. “I think we’re playing alright. Can I say we’re playing our best baseball right now? No. Honestly I think we played our best in the middle of the season, and that kind of scares me.”

Carlisle is facing a familiar foe in the first round of regional. Last year, fourth-seeded Magnet Cove knocked top seed Carlisle out of the regional in the first round and ruined the Bison’s bid for a state-tournament appearance. This year, Carlisle faces that same Magnet Cove team.

“They were second in their conference and got beat early at district,” Greene said. “They have two lefties that can throw it around 83-84 miles per hour. Left-handed, that’s hard to hit. I’ve told them that this time of year, you’re going to have to score runs to win ball games.”

The Bison’s impressive record of 23-5 would be little consolation for another early exit.

“We’ve made mention of that,” Greene said. “Are you going to be that team that has great seasons, but when it counts don’t do anything? I feel very confident about this whole tournament. We have more pitching than anyone in this region, but we have to get past the first round for that to matter.”