By MICHAEL CHILDERS, CJ Correspondent
It takes five wins to make it to the Forcht Bank/KHSAA Baseball State Tournament.
The Southwestern Warriors are one-fifth of the way there now, as they took down Monticello in the first round of the 48th District Baseball Tournament on Monday night at Warrior Stadium. With the five-inning, 11-1 victory over the Trojans, the Warriors advanced to the championship game and next week’s regional tournament.
Alex Eaton’s ball club did exactly what they needed to do to make it back to the regional tournament once again. The third-year Southwestern coach is hoping that his squad can come away with the program’s first regional title since 2004.
“We came to the ballpark today and did what we had to do,” praised Eaton. “I’m excited that we get to go back to the region tournament - we’ll see what happens. I told our guys that we’re one-fifth of the way there, but we are going to take it one day at a time. I have high hopes for our guys, and I like the situation that we’re in.”
The Warriors, after failing to score in the opening frame, tallied four runs in the second frame to run out to a 4-0 lead over the Trojans. Austin Bubnick (double), Jacob Burchett, Trevor Stacey (double), and Logan Starnes, all came up with big hits in the frame for the Warriors.
Southwestern continued to light up the scoreboard in the third frame, as the Warriors put three runs across the plate to grab a 7-0 advantage over Monticello. Lucas Turpin, Vincent Boils, and Bubnick, each had a hit and scored a run in the Warriors’ three-run inning.
Monticello plated their first and only run of the contest in the fourth inning. An RBI single from Zach Massengale would do the trick, allowing a fellow Trojan to score a run to cut the Warrior lead to 7-1.
Heading into the bottom half of the fifth inning, the Warriors needed four runs to get the ten-run mercy rule - and that’s exactly what happened. Southwestern took advantage of two errors, two hit by pitches, and two walks, to score their game-ending four runs.
The pair of Stacey and Bubnick led the charge for Southwestern at the dish, as both players had two hits apiece. Stacey finished with a contest-high three RBI’s and a double, while Bubnick had an RBI and a double in the win.
If the Warriors, who had eight hits in the game, can hit the ball they did in the win over the Trojans, the Warrior skipper feels that his team can make a deep run in the postseason.
“The guys hit the ball up the middle and to the right side tonight,” told Eaton. “If we can continue to do that and not try to pull the ball, we’ll be alright. It’s a good sign for us, because we’ve been successful when we’ve not tried to pull the ball.”
Brandon Tucker, a senior, went the distance for the Warriors in the win. The Warrior senior gave up four hits and struck out four batters in the five-inning shutout.
Southwestern, who moved to 24-8 with the win over Monticello, returned to action last night in the 48th District Baseball Championship.
MHS - 0 0 0 1 0 - 1 4 4
SW - 0 4 3 0 4 - 11 8 1
W - Tucker (SW)
L - Stinson (MHS)
2B - Stacey, Bubnick (SW)
RBI - Massengale (MHS); Stacey 3, Burchett 2, Starnes, Bubnick (SW)