Ausbrooks leads Gators to Game 2 win over Purples
It was Mac Ausbrooks’ night on Wednesday.
The junior performed at a high level – both offensively and defensively – and led Greenwood to an 8-4 win over Bowling Green in the second game of a three-game District 14 series at Corey Hart Ballpark.
“He did a great job,” Greenwood coach Jason Jaggers said of Ausbrooks. “Mac’s been like that for us all year long. He was able to get ahead with the curve ball and stay around the zone and battle around some tough jams early in the game.”
Starting on the mound for the Gators (12-7 overall, 5-3 District 14), Ausbrooks didn’t allow a single run with just one hit through four innings of work. He allowed four runs on three hits in the fifth, but still earned the win and improved to 3-2 when on the bump in 2018.
To go along with his pitching performance, the right-hander also delivered at the plate with a 2-for-4, three RBI outing.
“I felt good knowing that it was Bowling Green and they’re one of our biggest rivals,” Ausbrooks said. “Throwing as well as I did against them, it felt really good.”
In the bottom of the first inning, Ausbrooks singled to score a pair and gave Greenwood an early 2-0 lead. He came up big again two frames later, sending a solo home run over the left field wall to push the Gators’ advantage to 6-0.
Behind Ausbrooks’ all-around night, four other Gators each finished with hits to help Greenwood bounce back from Tuesday’s 2-1 loss and even the series at 1-1.
“I think our dugout was much better tonight,” Jaggers said. “Everyone was into the game and cheering on their teammates. We’ve talked about it all season; the dugout needs to stay in it. If you’re not in the lineup that day, make sure that you’re cheering on your teammates. Tonight, they did it. It really helps our guys.”
The Purples (7-8, 2-3) scored all four of their runs in the top of the fifth – courtesy of two-out, two-run hits by Will Garske and Bo Morton – but it wasn’t enough for a comeback.
Greenwood struck first in the bottom half of the opening inning, scoring a pair of runs on Ausbrooks’ single. With Maddox Burr and Adam Schneller both on after reaching on back-to-back passed balls, Ausbrooks sent a line drive into right field and gave the Gators a 2-0 lead after one.
“We capitalized on some opportunities and some mistakes in the first inning and were able to get some runs across,” Jaggers said. “I felt like we had A-B’s and put some good swings on the ball.”
Greenwood put together another productive frame in the second and pushed its advantage to a comfortable 5-0.
In a rough defensive inning for Bowling Green, the Gators used a wild pitch and passed ball to score a pair – just after Burr recorded an RBI single into left. Greenwood scored all three of its runs in the second with two outs and inherited much momentum.
Ausbrooks delivered – and in a big way – on the offensive end in the third. With one out and no one on, the pitcher sent a solo shot over the left field wall to put the Gators up 6-0 entering the fourth.
“To put up that many runs against them early, that’s really good,” Ausbrooks said. “It felt good throughout the game and we didn’t let up.”
Leading by six, Greenwood’s lead soon grew to 8-0 in the fourth. After Dell Henk was hit by a pitch and John Hicks singled, Cade Thornton sent a ball all the way into the right corner to score both runners and give himself a triple.
Bowling Green finally broke through in the fifth and added four runs to its side of the scoreboard. Garske doubled to centerfield and plated a pair, while Morton earned a two-run single. Despite the big inning from the Purples, they still trailed 8-4 – and Greenwood held that same lead from there.
“We didn’t compete very good the first three or four innings … at all” Bowling Green coach Matt Myers said. “We gave them a lot of their opportunities early; passed balls, and then walks and miscues left and right. Not very competitive. But, in a loss, I was really impressed with how we played offense (late).”
The two sides will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday at Greenwood to determine the series winner.