In the fifth inning, the Lions finally got something going offensively with two runs to cut the deficit to 8-3, but the damage could have been much greater.
The threat started with a single from Ben Blackwell and a double from Trevor Resler, which was followed by a two-run single by freshman Landon Bell. Bell took second on the throw home and leadoff hitter Gage Harder drew his second walk of the game to put runners at first and second for the Lions’ 2-3-4 hitters. Graman, however, found himself and retired Hayden Bell, Miller and Branden Wilz without surrendering any more damage.
Miller was relieved by Blackwell and he proceeded to throw three perfect innings to keep Loogootee’s hopes of a comeback alive, but the Lions couldn’t get any closer than 8-3. In the top of the seventh, the Warriors recorded four runs to effectively put the game out of reach on a Brett Ridgway two-run double and a Jordan Meurer’s two-run single.
“Ben (Blackwell) threw real well for us,” Woolems said. “That’s a situation of trying to figure out how much your guy has got and how deep he can go. Maybe we should have went to Frank (Bratton), but I thought he gave us three great innings. He kept the ball down and got outs.”
In their final time at the plate, Loogootee gave the home crowd something to take home with them. After Landon Bell and Harder made the first two outs of the inning, Hayden Bell, Miller and Wilz recorded back-to-back-to-back solo home runs to cut the North Knox lead to six. Gabe Nolley nearly made it 12-7, but his drive to center field fell short of the fence and ended a frustrating afternoon for the Lions.
Three straight homers for any team is exciting, but it left Woolems and the rest of the Lions’ faithful thinking what might have been after stranding two in the bottom of the fifth.
“That’s the game of baseball — we get three solo shots in the seventh where if you get one of them in that spot with the same three guys at the plate, it’s a completely different situation,” Woolems said.