Riverside wins second straight regional baseball title
Riverside claimed its second consecutive 2A regional baseball title, defeating rival Buffalo Island Central 9-6 Saturday afternoon at Marked Tree. The victory gives the Rebels a number one seed in this week's state tournament, which begins Thursday at Parkers Chapel. Riverside will open state tournament play against the fourth seed from the East, Palestine Wheatley, at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Riverside jumped on BIC in the first inning, scoring four runs. Matthew Fraser was hit by a Brice Towery pitch to open action. Izzy Garcia's bloop single just over first base put runners on the corners. Gavin Stone banged an RBI single, giving the Rebels a 1-0 lead. Towery then uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Garcia from third as well as Stone, who raced home all the way from second, putting Riverside on top 3-0. Luke Baker added an RBI single to centerfield to cap off Riverside's four-run opening frame.
BIC fought back, scoring a run in the second on a bases loaded walk by Rebel starter Charlie McClure. The Mustangs had a chance to score more, but left the bases loaded as Riverside hung on to a 4-1 lead.
BIC struck again in the top of the third, scoring four times to take a 5-4 advantage, chasing McClure from the game. Dax Hurst got things started for the Mustangs with a lead-off single. Andrew McFarlin laced a double off the left field fence, putting runners at second and third. Brice Towery then hit a sharp grounder up the middle that ricocheted off the second base bag into left field, scoring two runs and slicing the Rebel advantage to 4-3. Brandon Towery belted a double into the right centerfield gap, putting runners at second and third. Chayse Carmichael stepped to the plate and slapped a two-run single into right field, putting the Mustangs on top, 5-4. The Rebels went to their bullpen, bringing in sophomore right hander Dillon Turner, who avoided further damage during the inning.
Riverside bounced back in their half of the inning, getting one-out singles from Stone and Larry Tilley. Turner tied things up by lining a sharp single into left field, scoring Stone and sending Tilley to third. Baker grounded out to second, driving in the go-ahead run and giving the Rebels a 6-5 lead.
The Rebels picked up another run in the fourth to move ahead 7-5 before the Mustangs answered with a run of their own in the top of the fifth. With the bases loaded and only one out, BIC had a chance for more, but Kaleb Dublin's line drive was stabbed by Rebel second sacker Izzy Garcia, who stepped on second for an inning ending double play that snuffed out the rally. Riverside added insurance runs in the fifth and sixth and Turner closed the door on the Mustangs the rest of the way, giving the Rebels the championship.
Turner picked up the win in relief, working four 1/3 innings, allowing one unearned run on just three hits. McClure pitched the first 2 2/3, giving up five runs and six hits. Brice Towery suffered the loss, working five innings, allowing eight runs and 13 hits. Brandon Towery pitched one inning, giving up a run and one hit.
Stone led Riverside at the plate, going 3-4, while Baker also rapped out three hits. Garcia, Tilley and Turner all had two hits apiece while Cannon Smith and Chandler Tate both added doubles.
The Rebels began the tournament with a hard fought 4-3 come from behind victory in eight innings over Midland. Midland took a 1-0 lead, stringing three hits together in the fourth inning. Riverside came back to take a 3-1 lead with a three-run outburst in the sixth. Stone started the rally with a line drive off the third baseman's glove. Tilley hammered a shot off the right field fence before a fielder's choice loaded the bases. Baker's sacrifice fly evened the score at 1-1. Smith followed with a ringing shot just inside the third base bag, scoring two runs and giving the Rebels their first lead of the contest.
Riverside carried a two-run advantage into the bottom of the seventh, but a two-out, two-strike base hit tied the game, sending it into extra innings. The Rebels wasted little time grabbing the lead back. Tilley and Turner started the winning rally with back to back hits and were sacrificed to second and third on a perfect Baker bunt. Smith brought in the game winning run with a long sacrifice fly to left centerfield. Stone sat down Midland in order in the bottom of the seventh to secure the win.
Stone went the distance, allowing just six hits while striking out 12. Tilley had three hits, including a double. Fraser tripled, Smith doubled while Stone and Turner added singles.
Riverside gained revenge over Rector, who had defeated the Rebels in the district tournament, thrashing the Cougars 12-1 in Friday's semifinals. The Rebels scored three runs in the top of the second to take a quick lead and never looked back.
Tilley pitched a complete game, scattering eight hits while allowing just one run. The junior right hander fanned two and did not issue a walk. Tilley helped himself at the plate, going 3-4 with a double and an RBI. Baker also slammed three hits and drove in a pair of runs. Fraser doubled and drove in two runs while Garcia singled and had three RBI. Tate and McClure both went 2-4 while Stone and Turner added singles.