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Hauser beats Shawe 17-1 to end rough Hilltoppers season
, Courier Sportswriter
Friday, May 30, 2014 11:00 AM
FIRING AWAY: Shawe shortstop Whit Grote (above) fires to first base during Thursday’s sectional semifinal game against Hauser. Grote, who started the game on the mound, wipes his brow (below) while getting a visit from pitching coach Lee Daugherty (37). Shawe lost 17-1 to end its season. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
Hauser put an end to Shawe's forgettable 2014 campaign with a 17-1 win in the semifinals of the Class A Baseball Sectional at Post 9 Field on Thursday.
The Hilltoppers, who finished the season with a 1-22 record, had more lows than highs during a trying season. Still, the team stayed upbeat until the end and head coach Matt Forner was pleased with the progress his team has made.
"We started the season and the level for this team was down here," Forner said, putting his had two feet above the ground. "Now, we're up here (to the waist). We've made some real strides, we don't lose a single senior and we're going to have a couple of more kids come in next year to help us out. Next year, we start with a clean slate and the level will be higher. And we'll be better."
As was the case in nearly every one of its losses this season, mistakes were what doomed Shawe. Hauser banged out 13 hits - including three triples - but it was the five Hilltopper errors, 14 free passes (walks plus hit batters) and seven wild pitches or passed balls that did the most damage.
Still, Shawe made enough positive plays to keep Forner smiling. The biggest came in the second inning when Hauser's Jared Compton hit a laser shot into right field and the Hilltoppers' Jacob Lundergan was there to make the catch. The Jets' Rory Thayer tagged and scored on the play, but Shawe catcher Cameron Rampy fielded the throw and alertly threw down to catch Compton off the first-base bag.
"That play may have been the best play we made all season because of everything that was going on," Forner said. "It was a great catch, there were about 11 different things that were happening at once but Cameron saw the whole field and saw that he had a play and threw down for the out. We're starting to do things without thinking about them. It's starting to come naturally and that's what I am happy to see."
Hauser (13-11) scored two runs in the top of the first on one hit thanks to two errors, two walks, two hit batters and three wild pitches.
But Shawe came right back. Kaelan Jines reached on an infield single and then stole second. Freshman Ethan McCarter then singled up the middle to score Jines for what proved to be the Hilltoppers' only run on their only hits in the game.
Hauser scored three runs in the second, three more in the third and then blew the game open with a six-run fourth inning. The Jets closed the game with three more runs in the fifth.
Whit Grote lasted only one-plus inning on the mound and suffered the loss after giving up five runs - three earned - on two hits with two strikeouts, three walks and four hit batters. Jines went the next two and one-third innings and gave up nine runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and five walks. Grayson Rhoten gave up three runs on four hits over the final inning and two-thirds.
Jared Schoen went all five innings for Hauser to pick up the win. The sophomore struck out eight, walked one and hit two while allowing a run on two hits.
Brooks Bailey went 3-for-5 with two triples, three RBIs and five runs scored to lead Hauser's offense. Nathan Branum was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Will Rose was 2-for-2 with a triple, two runs and three RBIs and Thayer was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and four runs scored.
Hauser advances to the championship game on Monday where it will take on Jac-Cen-Del, an 11-0 winner over South Decatur in the first game. The Eagles' Dominique Norman lost his no-hit bid in the sixth and final inning.
While the season ended on a loss, Shawe didn't end the season winless thanks to a 4-3 victory over Milan in the Hilltoppers' regular-season finale last Saturday.
Rhoten belted a big two-run double in the first and the Hilltoppers made a strong defensive play to close out the win in the seventh inning.
"It was paramount to these players and it was paramount to the coaches that we got that win," Forner said. "I never had a doubt that a win was coming. I knew that we would win a game, I really didn't think it would come in the last game.
"It was probably the shortest speech I've given this team after the game. I was pretty emotional," Forner said. "But it was important for these guys to see that hard work pays off and to get a chance to get that win. It gives us something to build on next year."
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