The New Palestine baseball team used two big innings to rally from an early five-run deficit to beat Greenwood 10-7 Thursday at NPHS.
The Dragons trailed 5-0 in the third, but scored four runs in the bottom of the inning, then used a five-run sixth to take the lead. Kyle Gardner then slammed the door in the seventh to nail down the victory. Jason Hall-Manley had four RBI, and the Dragons got hits from throughout the lineup to rally for the victory.
The victory gave the Dragons an 18-7 record going into the final three games of the regular season.
Gardner (6-0) pitched five solid innings of relief, allowing three runs, four hits and fanning three. He allowed a two-run homer to the first batter he faced – Greenwood cleanup hitter T.J. Bass – which gave the visitors a 5-0 lead in the third – but then retired the next two batters to end the threat.
The Dragons immediately went to work, with Caleb VanderWal and Nick Rusche leading off the third with singles and Evan Fitzgerald following with a walk to load the bases. Keegan Watson drew a bases-loaded walk to plate the first run, and Hall-Manley followed with a bases-clearing double to the right-centerfield fence that cut the deficit to 5-4. Greenwood pushed the lead to 7-4 in the fourth on a two-out, two-run single, but that was all the Woodmen would get, as Gardner retired 10 of the last 12 Woodmen batters he faced.
The Dragons answered in the fifth, with Fitzgerald and Watson leading off with singles. A long flyout by Hall-Manley moved them both into scoring position, and Fitzgerald came home on Jacob Smith’s groundout to cut the deficit to 7-5. The Dragons nearly plated another run on Cody Long’s slow roller to short with Watson on third, but he was ruled out on a bang-bang play to end the inning.
It set the stage for the Dragons’ big rally in the sixth. Colby Jenkins led off with a sharp single up the middle, Pinch-hitter Patrick Hopkins coaxed a walk and Nick Rusche loaded the bases when his sacrifice bunt was mishandled. The Dragons tied the game on Fitzgerald’s single to left, and a bobble by the Woodmen left fielder allowed a second run to cross the plate. Watson followed with an RBI single and Hall-Manley an RBI double. Braden Roberts later drove in a run with a grounder to short to give the Dragons an insurance run and cap the five-run frame.
Hall-Manley led the Dragons’ nine-hit attack, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and four RBI. Watson was 2-for-3 with two RBI, a walk and a run. Fitzgerald was 2-for-3 with a walk, three runs and an RBI. Jenkins had a single and a run, VanderWal a single and two runs, and Rusche was 1-for-2 with two runs scored. Roberts also had a productive day with three walks and an RBI.
The Dragons are next in action Friday against New Castle on Senior Night. The doubleheader begins at 5:30 p.m., and a win would give the Dragons at least a share of the HHC title. A sweep would give the Dragons the title outright. NP will close the regular season at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Decatur Central – a game added to the schedule.
The Dragon JV won at Greenwood by an 11-2 score. Cameron Pitzer pitched a complete game allowing two earned runs while striking out six batters. The offense was lead by Luke Greene who had four hits to go along with two RBI. Nathan Hubbard and Jarrett Phelan also had two RBI each. That came on the heels of a 5-1 win over Mt. Vernon on Wednesday, in which Tyler Martin pitched five innings for the win and Tyler Swain got the save. Jack Walker had three hits and three RBI in that game. On Tuesday, the Dragons beat Eastern Hancock 12-0 in a JV game. Conner Roberts allowed one hit in five innings and fanned eight. Jack Walker and Dawson Schrod had two RBI each. The Dragon JV has a Saturday doubleheader with New Castle, then will visit Pendleton Heights in a single game at 5 p.m. Monday.