Ausbrooks, Gators shutout Franklin-Simpson
In a matchup between two of Region 4’s top offensive teams, Greenwood was the more explosive club against Franklin-Simpson on Thursday evening at Bowling Green Ballpark.
Following offensive-powered wins over Clinton County and Allen County-Scottsville earlier this week, the Gators carried their hot hitting streak into Thursday and used it to rack up 10 hits and earn a 4-0 shutout win over the Wildcats for a third consecutive victory.
“We’re having a lot of good at-bats,” Greenwood coach Jason Jaggers said. “We’re starting to hit a lot of balls hard and get some guys on base. Our strikeouts are way down. Pitchers are starting to come back around. Those are all starting to improve and the guys are really starting to come together.”
Greenwood (19-12 overall, 11-7 Region 4) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the opening inning and followed up with two more runs in the ensuing frame to build a 3-0 advantage. Franklin-Simpson’s best chance came in the fourth when it loaded the bases, but the Wildcats couldn’t score any of the three baserunners.
Franklin (22-10, 8-6), who tallied 24 combined hits in games against South Warren and Bowling Green on Monday and Tuesday, finished with just two and could never get anything across the plate.
“Tonight’s offense … not very good. Not a whole lot you can say,” Franklin-Simpson coach Kyle Gammons said. “It seems that we have a problem stringing three or four games together. Played a lot of games lately, and to me it’s mental approach. We just haven’t been very good playing from behind. That’s something we’ve gotta correct quickly.”
Maddox Burr led the way for the Gators with a 2-for-4, RBI performance, while Mac Ausbrooks also went 2-for-4 at the plate. On the mound for Greenwood, Ausbrooks tossed a five-strikeout shutout with just two hits in a complete-game fashion.
“I was feeling really good,” Ausbrooks said of his outing. “A little bit of fatigue at the end like normal throwing a lot of pitches. It helped a lot being on the mound and just throwing strikes.”
Both sides return to action Friday as Greenwood travels to Glasgow for a 5:30 p.m. contest and Franklin-Simpson plays at 6 p.m. at Allen County-Scottsville.
Franklin-Simpson recorded the first hit of the evening on a single from Rylan Thomas in the bottom of the first, but Greenwood’s defense stranded him and quickly put its offense to work.
After John Hicks reached on an error in the top of the second, Burr followed up with a single into centerfield to score his predecessor and gave the Gators a 1-0 lead.
Greenwood carried its momentum into the next frame, scoring a pair of runs on two hits to increase the advantage to 3-0. With Adam Schneller on after reaching an another Franklin-Simpson error, Cade Thornton doubled and Dell Henk followed with a sacrifice fly out to put the Gators in a comfortable spot.
“The other night we regrouped as a team and discussed a lot of things we needed to work on as a team,” Ausbrooks said. “I think that’s made us come together a lot tighter and allowed us to come on the field and come together just like we did at the beginning of the season — and beat a really good team.”
The Wildcats finally strung together an offensive rhythm in the bottom of the fourth and loaded the bases. Clay Spears singled and Jacob Curtis was hit by a pitch to give Franklin two on with no outs, and Quentin Kitchens was soon walked with just one out.
Despite being in a great spot to scratch some runs across, Franklin-Simpson failed to do as a strikeout and pop out ended the inning with the bases loaded and Greenwood up 3-0.
An RBI single by Adam Schneller in the sixth pushed the Gators’ lead to 4-0 — and the scoreboard remained the same throughout the remainder of the contest.
“We came in on Friday (after being swept by South Warren) and for an hour and a half just talked as a team,” said Jaggers. “What could we do to finish the season strong? It was a good discussion. We talked about how we could grow apart or we could get closer together.
“These guys have really gotten closer together and are really starting to rebound.”