The defending North Half champs stormed back to win a doubleheader Tuesday, as Ingomar advances back to the North Half Championship after defeating Myrtle 9-5 and 4-0.
After falling 6-2 last Friday, Ingomar coach Andy Wilbanks reminded his team to play like they have been all season and not to try to do too much.
“I told them just to play every inning, you know, pitch by pitch, and don’t try to do too much,” Wilbanks said. “Everyone just play for Ingomar baseball and do their own part while not doing too much, and we’ll be successful.”
With their backs against the wall, Ingomar came out firing with five runs in the first, setting the pace and putting the Hawks in a hole.
Beau Cummings started on the mound for Myrtle, but only lasted two-thirds of the inning before Jimel Judon took his place.
Austin Gregory and Preston Broom started the game with back-to-back walks, followed by a single by Tanner McCullum. A dropped ball in the outfield brought in a run while Josh Hodges made it to first. John Logan was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for the Falcons again, followed by another error, scoring a run. Ben Foshee and Gregory were walked scoring two more runs before Judon would get the final out on a strikeout.
Justin Jordan started Myrtle’s half of the inning with a single, but Hodges was able to sit down the next three batters on strikeouts, leaving Jordan stranded.
The Hawks would get on the board in the fourth, as Judon was walked and Trey Barkley was hit by a pitch. Cummings advanced the runners, and a pop out to second scored Judon, making it 5-1 after four.
Ingomar answered in the fifth, as a double by Gregory scored Logan, who reached earlier on a walk.
Hodges knocked a solo home run in the top of the sixth to make it 7-2.
Moving to the bottom of the sixth with one out, Wilbanks made the call to relieve Hodges, replacing him with Broom, but after three runs on three errors, Hodges returned to the bump to close out the game.
Barkley was the first to reach base with a single, and with two outs, Myrtle got to work offensively, as a throwing error placed Barkley and Russ Yates in scoring position. Another error by Ingomar’s defense led to a run scored, and the third error scored two more runs, making it 7-5 going into the final inning.
A two-run bomb by McCullum scored Gregory, who reached base on a walk, and made it 9-5.
Judon walked in the bottom half of the inning, but Ingomar was able to hold on to force the deciding third game on their home field.
McCullum and Hodges each had two hits in the first game, while Hodges struck out 11 with only three hits.
Yates and Whittington led the Hawks offensively, each hitting doubles.
In the second game of the night, Ingomar’s defense came alive, as Myrtle was held to only four hits in the game.
“We knew we had to come into the second game and play defense,” Wilbanks said. “Preston did a great job for us tonight throwing strikes, and they hit the ball pretty well, but we knew if we played good defense, we would have a good shot to win.”
Ingomar again got on the board first after an error scored Broom, making it 1-0.
The Falcons would extend that lead in the third, as an error scored Gregory with one out. Ingomar would load the bases after a single by Hodges and a walk by Clay Kidd, but Justin Hood would get the Hawks out of the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.
Broom pitched a great game, not allowing any hits in both the third and fourth innings, showing why the Falcons’ pitching staff attributes to most of Ingomar’s success.
“Our pitching has been tremendous,” Wilbanks explained. “Our guys go out there and throw strikes. They get frustrated sometimes and we’ve been playing a little bit of bad defense lately, but the backbone of our team are our pitchers. When they go out and throw strikes and we play good defense, we have a good chance to win.”
Wilbanks didn’t have to worry about his team’s defensive effort, as a huge fly out to Foshee in the fourth brought the Falcons and their fans alive. Foshee later had a one-out single, and scored on a wild pitch, making it 3-0.
“Foshee is going to give us 100 percent every time he steps on the field,” Wilbanks said. “Tonight was his night to make a big play and a big hit. He makes a great catch in the outfield, saving a double or a triple, then comes up to bat and gets a hit to start the inning off and eventually scores a run, so he did a tremendous job for us tonight.”
A solo shot by Hodges in the fifth made it 4-0, which would be the final as Ingomar advances to play West Union in North Half Championship, starting on Thursday.
Cummings and Hodges each had two hits for their respective teams. Broom finished the night with five strikeouts, while Hood gave up four runs off seven hits with 11 strikeouts.