If anyone forgot what a sectional atmosphere was like after a year without one, then the Washington Sports Complex was the place to be on Tuesday.
With major league scouts in attendance, four home runs, several lead changes, five Division 1 players and plenty of strike outs in a PAC battle, visiting Southridge (8-3) ended up winning, 9-8 over the Hatchets (10-6).
“These one-run games have been heartbreaking for us. They are no fun. We could have gone out 1-2-3 at the end, but we made it interesting. I really wish we got the win for (Nick) Sandullo because he deserved it.
“The positive was we showed a lot of fight,” said WHS coach Steve Reed. “We had a chance to get the win, and we almost did it with two outs. One of these days one of these games are going to go our way.”
Southridge opened with a pair of hits from Cam Gasser and Carter Whitehead, allowing Gasser to score, but Sandullo immediately settled down retired the next five in a row, including two Ks.
Washington’s Seth Holtsclaw led off the second with a hard single to left, Sandullo walked, and Miguel Cruz bunted to load the bases. Joah Horrall then tied the game with a single to right. WHS took the lead on Isaac Barnard’s RBI fielder’s choice making it 2-1.
Southridge did put two runners on in the third, but Sandullo was able to use a strikeout, a caught-stealing base runner and ground ball to extinguish the threat.
WHS added a run in the third as Caleb Armstrong reached (and was replaced by Damian Garcia on the base paths) with Holtsclaw driving him in with his second hit of the day and made it 3-1.
However, in the top of the fourth, Major League prospect Colson Montgomery made it 3-2 with a home run over the centerfield fence. U of E signee Ethan Bell added a two-run shot three batters later and Southridge had a 4-3 lead, however, Sandullo did strike out three batters during the frame.
WHS answered with a long ball, as Armstrong added a 3-run homer scoring Horrall and Logan Riester and pushing the Hatchets back to a 6-4 lead.
Southridge got a run back in the top of the fifth cutting it to 6-5. Raider Mick Uebelhor then replaced Carsen Niehaus on the hill in the bottom of the fifth and retired the Hatchets in order, keeping the Raiders within one run. Sandullo matched him on the mound in the top of the sixth with two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning. Uebelhor also retired the side in the sixth as well.
Hatchet Miguel Cruz came on in the top of the seventh, and with the bases loaded gave up a grand slam to U of E signee Chase Taylor to overtake the lead, 9-6 and WHS brought in Ashton Ostby to finish the inning.
But WHS was not done, as Gasser came in to pitch for Southridge in the bottom of the seventh and WHS was able to put Jack Fry and Holtsclaw on third and second and both would score on a Sandullo double to make it 9-8. Cruz reached on an error, putting the tying run on third and winning run on second, but Gasser was able to get the final out and secure the 9-8 win.
Ubelehor got the win and Cruz picked up the loss, while Sandullo struckout 10 and gave up just three earned runs and four hits in six innings.
The Hatchets travel to Forest Park on Thursday.