By Gregg A. Sims
Washington Times Herald
LOOGOOTEE — Barr-Reeve’s hopes of winning the Class A baseball sectional championship at Loogootee disappeared into the glove of River centerfielder Austin Woodruff in the fifth inning of the Class A title game Monday afternoon.
The Patriots had taken a 3-0 lead in the first inning that starting pitcher Chase Allen had held into the fifth.
But the Vikings had loaded the bases in the top of the inning with two outs when Heath Graber launched a long fly ball into the wind in left center that leftfielder Collin Vieke missed as he attempted to run the ball down in the gap.
But Woodruff was also closing and as the ball just missed the glove of Vieke, it found Woodruff’s webbing as he slid to make the catch before rolling over behind Vieke.
It wasn’t certain at first where the ball had gone on the cloudy and windy afternoon, but Woodruff rolled over and flashed the ball in his bare hand for all to see.
“Their centerfielder (Woodruff) made a great play,” Barr-Reeve coach Nathan Lester said. “That was three runs right there. You change the complexion of the game if he doesn’t make a diving play.”
That was one of three Viking rallies that fell just short after the early 3-0 Rivet advantage gained in the bottom of the opening inning.
The Vikings received a walk to Brandon Wagler in the fourth inning and Addison Wagler singled with one out. But Brandon Wagler was lost on a fielder¹s choice as was Addison Wagler without a run scoring.
Allen hit Stan Kemp with one out and Adam Graber chased him to second in the fifth with a single. Cain Miller walked to load the bases before Brandon Wagler flew out to left field.
That set the stage for what appeared to be a potential bases-clearing shot by Graber before Woodruff ended the frame.
Collin Wirth then hit a home run to open the bottom of the inning, and the Patriots were leading 4-0.
Addison Wagler opened the sixth with a double down the right field line and he scored on a Myron Stoll single to close the gap to 4-1.
Adam Graber singled to open the seventh and Cain Miller was walked to give the Vikings two on with no outs.
Brandon Wagler hit a 2-1 pitch that turned into a major league pop up caught by Allen off the mound and then Heath Graber forced Adam Graber at third on the evening¹s only controversial play.
Graber hit a high hopper to Rivet thirdbaseman Tanner Thomas that caught Thomas on a short hop. Having lost the play at first by mishandling the hop, Thomas then ran and dove at the bag at third to try and catch Adam Graber running from second.
Adam Graber was called out by Thomas touching the bag before Graber could reach.
It was a play that was not popular with a large Barr-Reeve crowd.
“The umpire said he stepped on the base,” Lester said. “I was watching him (Thomas) and it looked like he was trying to swipe tag him. In those situations you’re not always going to get the call. The bottom line is we had a chance, man - we had a chance. We just didn’t come through with big hits when we needed them.”
Addison Wagler then plated Barr-Reeve’s second run of the game with a single, scoring Miller from second.
Logan James was then retired on a ground ball to end the game.
“We really made a couple of different runs at them,” Lester said.
The Patriots welcomed Barr-Reeve starter Heath Graber with three consecutive one-out singles before Graber hit Wirth and issuing consecutive walks for the 3-0 lead.
Lucas Graber left his spot behind the plate and finished the game, allowing the home run in the fifth.
“We spotted them three runs in the first inning,” Lester said. “I hate that for Heath. He struck out the first hitter and I thought this might be his night. He was just struggling and couldn’t find it.”
Lester, as are many coaches in other sports having to compete in Sectional 63 of Class A, was philosophical after the game.
“I thought we were good enough to win this,” Lester said. “It’s unfortunate that teams like North Daviess, Loogootee, Vincennes Rivet and Barr-Reeve have to play in the same sectional and beat the tar out of each other. If you can come out of it in any sectional, you’ve done something.
“Big plays win big games and he (Woodruff) made a big play. That ball could have scored three and we have a runner at third and Addison led off the next inning with a double. There’s run number four. It was just frustrating. We had a great season (18-7).”
Barr-Reeve 000 001 1 - 2 7 1
Vincennes Rivet 300 010 x - 4 6 0
Heath Graber, Lucas Graber (1) and Lucas Graber, Stan Kemp (1). Chase Allen and Gavin Benock. W-Allen. L-Heath Graber. HR: VR, Collin Wirth. 2B: BR, Lucas Graber, Addison Wagler.