Gators down Raiders to claim series win
Greenwood has captured another series.
One week after winning a District 14 set against Warren Central, the Gators added another series win to their resume on Wednesday with a 12-1, five-inning victory over Warren East in the rubber match at Raider Ballpark.
“I think it’s huge,” Greenwood right fielder Mac Ausbrooks said of the series-clinching win. “Just from our past years not really showing out like we could to our full potential, I think we’re really growing into our shoes. We’re just playing good ball out here. Clean baseball wins games.”
While Warren East took Game 1 with an 8-5 win on Monday, Greenwood (12-5, 5-1 District 14) bounced back with a 5-4 victory Tuesday to even the series before claiming it a day later.
The Gators built a 4-0 lead in the first inning, extended it to 5-0 in the second and were later up 8-0 after four. They then went on to plate another pair of runs in the fifth to put the Raiders (6-12, 1-5) away in a quick fashion.
“This district – it’s just a bear,” Greenwood coach Jason Jaggers said. “You can’t look at Warren East’s record and think that you’re just gonna roll through ‘em. We’ve been in their shoes before and we found a way to make it out of the district tournament – and don’t be surprised if Wes gets that bunch ready.
“He’s got a lot of young, talented players over there and don’t be surprised if they find a way to sneak into the regional tournament – no matter what seed they are – so you can’t ever count them out. We’re definitely happy to be able to take two out of three.”
Mac Ausbrooks led the way for Greenwood with a 2-for-3, 5 RBI outing, while Lance Upright finished with a hit and pair of RBI. Dell Henk started on the mound for the Gators and allowed just one run with just five hits and four strikeouts in a complete-game performance.
Everything went Greenwood’s way from the start.
Scoring four quick runs in the top of the first inning, it took the Gators no time to put Warren East in an early hole. With the bases loaded after a pair of walks and a hit by pitch, Upright doubled on a line drive to left field to score a pair of runners and make it 2-0.
Shortly following Upright’s hit, a fielding error by Warren East allowed Ausbrooks to cross the plate – and a wild pitch during the next at-bat scored a courtesy runner from third base and pushed the Gators’ lead to 4-0 after half an inning.
Henk’s solo homerun in the ensuing inning gave Greenwood another run. On the third pitch of the at-bat, Henk received a pitch he liked straight down the middle, took a hard swing and sent the ball over the wall in left center to make it 5-0 Gators.
“Getting out and putting the bats together right away really helped us out and kept the bats working all throughout the game,” Henk said. “We’ve been hitting well again.”
After a scoreless third inning, Greenwood put together a dominant fourth.
Leading 5-0, Ausbrooks – who led the Gators to the walk-off win Tuesday – laid down a double to plate a pair of runs, and Braxton Garner followed up with a single to send another runner home and extend Greenwood’s advantage to 8-0.
“Ever since I was in Little League, I’ve always been taught to see it,” Ausbrooks said. “The first-pitch fastball is a really common pitch, so to see it right down the middle and make contact with it is a pretty good idea just to get on base. It’s an easy pitch to see.”
Ausbrooks stuck again in the fifth with a double into centerfield to score three more, and Garner came up with an RBI single in the next at-bat to put the Gators up 12-0.
“That’s what he does,” Jaggers said of Ausbrooks. “Mac’s kind of done that his whole career. The older he’s gotten, he’s been a big-time hitter for us. He’s doing a great job of finding the gap for us right now. When you’re able to do that, you know you’re seeing it pretty well.”
Will Howard’s single scored Ryan Hawks in the bottom half of the inning, but that’s as close as Warren East would get.
“We gave ‘em 10 free bases via walk or hit by pitch and then I think we had four errors – so that’s 14. So, we left 14 guys on base last night and decided to give them 14 guys tonight,” Warren East coach Wes Sanford said. “That makes it difficult and puts us in a very tough spot. We’ve gotta finish a series. We’ve gotta be able to play every game like it’s the last one we’ve got.”
The Raiders will look to bounce back Friday as it hits the road to take on Grayson County at 5:30 p.m. Greenwood will be back in action Monday as it begins a three-game series with Bowling Green at 6 p.m.