Riverside entered Saturday's 3AA South District Tournament having won only three games all season. The Rebels can now make it four as Riverside mercy ruled Cross County 11-1 to advance to Monday's semi-finals while earning a berth in the upcoming Regional Tournament at Monette.
The Rebels had dropped both regular season games to the Thunderbirds including a narrow 9-8 loss Monday afternoon at Cross County. Riverside came into the game playing some of their best baseball of the season. "We've really been hitting the ball well lately," said Riverside Coach Kevin Hall. "I've seen a lot of improvement in our team. They have been putting in a lot of hard work and it shows. We have a very young team, four freshman, four sophomores, and only two juniors and seniors. We are real excited about advancing to the Regional Tournament. I am happy for the kids."
Riverside jumped to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning. Garrett Weaver laced a one out single and advanced to third when Beau Hogan reached on an error. After Glen Graham grounded out, advancing Hogan to second, Weaver scored on a wild pitch to give the Rebels a 1-0 lead. Two pitches later Hogan scampered home on another wild pitch from Cross County starter and losing pitcher Dylan Karnes.
Cross County answered with an unearned run in the bottom of the first, thanks to a walk and an error, but starting pitcher Garrett Weaver handcuffed the Thunderbirds the rest of the way, pitching a complete game to earn the win. Weaver, who had struck out 16 Thunderbirds on Monday, fanned 14 more Saturday to give him 30 strikeouts in his last two starts. The sophomore right-hander allowed only two hits and issued just two walks in five innings of work to earn the victory.
"We have had a lot of adversity this year and have taken it on the chin several times," said Hall. "We've lost some very close games. We've been right in it and would lose at the very end. Our pitching staff is really coming around. Garrett Weaver has really turned it on. He's gotten better every start."
The Rebels blew the game open in the second inning, scoring six times to take an 8-1 lead. Cody O'Guinn got things started by reaching base on an error when Thunderbird shortstop Tyler Moore dropped a pop up. Cody Richardson laid down a bunt which Karnes fielded but threw wildly past first, allowing O'Guinn to score to give the Rebels a 3-1 lead. Richardson went all the way to third on the play. Weaver ripped his second hit of the game to centerfield to drive in Richardson for a 4-1 advantage. Hogan blooped a single to right just over the outstretched glove of second baseman Ricky Jones to put runners at first and second. Graham then lofted a lazy fly ball to right field that was misplayed by Cesar Ley, loading the bases. Caleb McCluskey made the score 5-1 when he hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Weaver.
Tyler Timms then ripped an RBI single down the third base line, scoring Hogan to push the lead to 6-1 and forcing the Thunderbirds to make a pitching change. Jeremy Coates entered the game for Cross County and immediately gave up a base hit to Casey Hook to load the bases. Cory Snyder hit a Texas leaguer to centerfield that dropped safely in for a single, scoring both Graham and Timms to cap off the big inning for the Rebels.
Riverside scored three more runs in the fourth inning to build the lead to 11-1. The big hit in the inning came off the bat of O'Guinn who drilled a run scoring triple over the head of centerfielder David Wheeler, driving in Casey Hook, who had singled earlier. Wheeler's throw to the infield sailed wildly for an error, allowing O'Guinn to race all the way around the bases to make the score 10-1. The Rebels added their final run when Cross County's third wild pitch of the game scored Richardson, who had legged out an infield hit and advanced to third on Weaver's third single of the game.
Riverside will play Bay Monday afternoon in the semi-finals of the tournament.
After losing Monday afternoon's one run game to Cross County, Riverside played Bay Tuesday in a game that had been delayed from an earlier date because of rain.
With the score tied 6-6 in the bottom of the seventh, Casey Hook belted what appeared to be the game winning hit to left field, but pinch runner Aaron Richey lost his footing rounding third and had to return to third. Caleb McCluskey drilled a line drive that appeared to be headed into centerfield, but Bay pitcher Garrett Bollinger got his glove up just in time to snare the ball for the final out, sending the game into the eighth inning.
The Yellowjackets picked up a pair of runs and shut down the Rebels to earn the 8-6 win.
Tyler Timms pitched eight innings, giving up eight runs, only two of which were earned. The senior righthander scattered six hits and struck out three to fall to 1-5 on the year.
Beau Hogan and Casey Hook had three hits apiece to lead Riverside against Bay. Hogan belted a pair of doubles, drove in two runs and scored a pair of runs. Glen Graham had a hit and a pair of RBIs, Nick Bagley had a hit, scored a run, and had one RBI. Tyler Timms had an RBI single while Garrett Weaver had a single and scored a run.
Two big innings doomed the Rebels in the 9-8 loss to Cross County on Monday. The Thunderbirds scored five runs in the first and added four more in the fifth, three coming on a homerun off the bat of David Wheeler.
Caleb McCluskey had three hits, including a three run homer, drove in four runs, and scored once to lead the Rebel offensive attack. Garrett Weaver also lashed three hits, drove in three, and scored a run. Tyler Timms had a pair of hits, Cody O'Guinn had a single, scored twice, and added an RBI. Beau Hogan also had a base hit while Cameron Casey scored three times and Aaron Richey scored once.
Garrett Weaver pitched six innings, allowing all nine runs, three earned. Weaver struck out 16, walked four and gave up eight hits.