(Town Crier photo/Trent Fletcher)
The Indians rallied from a three-run deficit with a four-run fifth inning to pull out a 9-8 victory in the nightcap in a game shortened by rain as the two teams split the double dipper.
In the first game, it was a pitcher's duel between Owens and Marked Tree's Jeffery Thompson. The Rebels threatened in the bottom of the first inning when Alex Smith hit a two out double to the gap in right centerfield. Owens then laced a hard hit single to center, but Smith was nailed at the plate, ending the inning.
Riverside came up with another two-out rally in the bottom of the third inning and this time cashed in. Shortstop Michael Dewitt doubled off the right centerfield wall and came around to score on an RBI single to left off the bat of second baseman Tyler Timms to give the Rebs a 1-0 lead.
The Indians knotted the game in the top of the fourth when Ron Thompson led off the inning with a single to center. Jeffery Thompson then followed, drawing a base on balls, to put runners at first and second with nobody out. Will Drace moved the runners to second and third on a ground out before Andy Lung scored Ron Thompson from third with a sacrifice fly to centerfield, tying the score 1-1.
Owens got out of any further damage by enticing Michael Scott to pop out to end the inning.
Riverside wasted no time in regaining the lead in their half of the fourth as Owens helped himself by leading off the inning with a solid single to left center. Left fielder Matt Snyder laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, advancing Owens to scoring position. Then, Thompson committed a balk, sending Owens to third with only one out. That brought Mann to the plate, who laid down a suicide squeeze, scoring Owens in what proved to be the game winning run as Riverside took a 2-1 lead.
Marked Tree threatened to tie the game in the top of the sixth when Ron Thompson led off the inning with a single up the middle. Jeffery Thompson then hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Kevin Winford, who threw to second for the force out. When Riverside's Timms attempted to complete the double play, Jeffery Thompson was also called out when Ron Thompson committed an illegal slide, impeding the throw to first baseman Alex Smith and the Indian rally was snuffed out.
Marked Tree threatened one last time as Lung led off the top of the seventh with a single to center, and was sacrificed to second by Scott. Justin Muse grounded back to the mound for the second out as Lung advanced to third with the potential tying run. William Ruthven then drew a walk and stole second, putting the lead run in scoring position.
That brought designated hitter Phillip Bickerstaff to the plate. Owens then bore down, striking out Bickerstaff, giving the Rebels the 2-1 victory in the opener. Owens threw a complete game, finishing with three strikeouts and only two walks, while Jeffery Thompson fanned seven Rebels while walking only one.
In the nightcap, the Indians jumped on top in the first inning by scoring four runs, three of which were unearned as the Rebels helped Marked Tree by committing two errors. Jeffery Thompson and Will Drace provided base hits in the four run outburst.
The Rebels struck back with a six run second inning capped off by a two run homer off the bat of Tyler Timms. M. J Emery and Michael Dewitt also delivered two run doubles in the inning to put the Rebels on top 6-4.
Riverside got RBI hits off the bats of Emery and Anthony Reece to take an 8-5 lead entering the bottom of the fifth. That's when the game and the weather both turned in Marked Tree's favor.
The Indians exploded for four runs on six hits, including a big two-out, two-run homer off the bat of Malone, tying the game at 8-8. Ron Thompson then doubled and scored what proved to be the winning run when Jeffery Thompson blooped a single to right centerfield, giving the Indians a 9-8 lead.
Before the Rebels could come to bat in the sixth inning, the skies opened up, and after a 15 minute delay, the umpires called the game, giving the Indians the win and a split of the doubleheader.
"I thought the first game was just a great high school baseball game," said Rebel coach Kevin Hall. "It was a very well played game, neither team made an error, and both pitchers went all the way and did really good jobs," said Hall.
"The big play of the game was the squeeze bunt by Jeremy Mann in the fourth inning. We put it on with two strikes so if he doesn't make contact it's a double play and the inning is over. Jeremy did a great job getting the bunt down. I was really proud of our pitching and defense in the game," added Hall.
"In the second game, we caught a bad break with the weather, but you have to give Marked Tree the credit. They came up with four two-out hits. They are very well coached and have a really good ball club," said Hall.
On Thursday afternoon, Riverside traveled to Hughes for another conference battle against the Blue Devils and came away with a 12-1 victory.
Riverside used the long ball in scoring their first six runs of the game as Tyler Timms hit a solo homer and Matt Owens followed up with a two-run shot in a three-run first inning. After failing to score in the second inning, Jeremy Mann blasted a three-run shot to give the Rebels a 6-0 lead in a game called after five innings.
Mann (2-1) went the distance to gain the victory for the Rebels, allowing only two runs in five innings of work. Mann gave up one unearned run, while striking out seven and walking one.
Riverside, which improved to 8-5 overall and 3-1 in the league, was led at the plate by Owens, who went 4-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Mann went 3-4 with four RBIs while scoring three times while Timms drove in two runs and scored a run. Matt Snyder also went 2-4 with an RBI.
Riverside concluded the week by hosting Rivercrest in a non-conference doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Lake City. Unfortunately for the Rebels, the Colts stampeded the Rebels by sweeping the twin bill, winning the first game 8-5 and taking the nightcap 6-4.
In the opener, Riverside jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead highlighted by M. J. Emery's two-run single. Leadoff hitter Michael Dewitt, who started the game by reaching first base on an error by Colt second baseman J. A. Beall, scampered home with the Rebels first run before Riverside loaded the bases, setting up the two-run hit by Emery.
The Colts tied the game with three unearned runs in the third inning as the Rebels committed three errors, two of which could be contributed to a strong crosswind that played havoc with the players all day.
The Colts took the lead for good in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Trey Coffman and then tacked on three more runs to pull away for the victory.
J. A. Coffman pitched five innings to get the win before Chad Hardin came on in relief to pick up the save for the Colts. Coffman, 1-1, struck out four, walked three and scattered eight hits, while Hardin fanned three batters and allowed no hits.
Rivercrest, 11-4-1, was led by Jarod Hart who went 3-4, while Andy Winkleman and Beall went 2-3.
Michael Dewitt, 1-2, took the loss despite giving up only one earned run. Dewitt scattered 11 hits while striking out one and walking only one. However, the Rebels committed seven errors in the game, which aided the Colts in producing seven of their eight runs.
Riverside was led at the plate by M.J. Emery, Tyler Timms and Matt Owens, who each had two hits. Emery finished with three RBIs while Owens drove in a run and scored three times.
In the second game, Rivercrest broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning, and went on to post a 6-4 victory to complete the doubleheader sweep.
Murphy Smith picked up the victory in relief of Jarod Hart, going 4 1/3 innings, striking out one, while giving up only two hits. Hardin came on in the seventh to get his second save of the day for the Colts.
Hart led Rivercrest at the plate, going 3-3, while Hardin went 2-3 with two RBIs and Chad Welch added an RBI single.
Riverside, 8-7, was led at the plate by Alex Smith and Michael Dewitt, who each provided two hits and one RBI. Matt Snyder, 3-4, took the loss for the Rebels.
Riverside coach Hall commented on the upcoming week, calling it the biggest of the year. The Rebels travel to Bay on Monday to play a crucial conference game against preseason league favorite Bay. Each team comes into the game with one conference loss apiece.
The Rebels then host Turrell for a league doubleheader on Tuesday at Caraway before Cross County comes to Lake City for yet another league encounter Thursday afternoon. Riverside and Cross County are scheduled for a make up game Wednesday with the site of the game yet to be determined.
The Rebels will close out the week by hosting the Craighead County Baseball Tournament Friday and Saturday at Lake City.