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Trojans rally past the Lions for 5-2 victory

By RON GREESON - For The Courier-Times

New Castle’s fourth-straight varsity baseball win Wednesday evening was a case of simply getting the job done.

Despite a game that was rough in patches for the home team, the host Trojans rallied from an early 2-0 deficit versus Rushville at Sunnyside Field, posting a 5-2 win to move to 5-1-1 on the young, spring 2019 regular season.

The Trojans took advantage of opportunities from three different Lion pitchers to push runs across when scoring chances were presented, continuing the winning momentum from over the past eight days and keeping Rushville winless.

Tyler Thompson, Dakota Durick and Logan Cline combined on the mound to limit the Lions to just five hits, only one after the second inning.

Meanwhile, the Trojans pushed across three runs in the bottom of the second inning to nose ahead on the scoreboard, then added insurance runs in the fifth and sixth innings to provide a bigger cushion.

After the game, first-year Trojan Head Coach Tony Gregory was pleased the team found ways to win the game, and had praise for the visiting Rushville team.

“That’s a good team (Rushville),” Gregory said on the field while pointing to the Lions meeting on the outfield grass after the game concluded. “Their coach said he believes the team is pretty good, just off to a slow start, and I agree. They looked like a team that will win games, regardless of what the record says right now. He said he doesn’t know why the team has started the season like this, but still expects things to turn around.”

Indeed, early in Wednesday’s game, it appeared the first win might come against the Trojans.

Mason Springman had a one-out single for Rushville versus Thompson, the senior lefthander who started the game for New Castle. Springman then stole second on a pitch that resulted in a strikeout of Tyler Wilson.

But Duncan Draper worked a walk to put Lion runners on first and second with two outs.

Then Aaron Duncan singled into left field, scoring Springman with the first run of the game for the Lions.

Dakota Durick had a one-out single for New Castle in the home first inning and he stole second base, but the Rushville senior Draper retired Drew Barber and Triston Chesher to keep the home team off the scoreboard.

The Lions added a second run in the top of the second frame.

Adam Sizemore started the inning with a double, and he advanced to third base on a fly out to right field off the bat of Hayden Walls. Sizemore scored when Gage Rosenfeld, battling in the nine hole in the lineup, reached safely on an infield single, making it 2-0, Rushville.

An error then allowed the Lions’ Cameron Craig to reach, then a walk to Springman loaded the bases with just one out.

But Thompson bowed his neck and he, and then Durick, didn’t allow another run to score in the inning, forcing fly outs from both Wilson and Draper.

New Castle then began the offensive turnaround, taking advantage of wildness on the mound from Draper.

The rally developed after the first two outs were recorded.

It started with a single off the bat of sophomore Blake McKown, then Nic Besecker walked. Colin Holcomb, in the nine hole for New Castle, then drew a free pass to load the bases.

At the top of the order, Rylan Huntley then was hit by a pitch, forcing in the first Trojan run of the inning and in the game. Durick and Barber then both drew walks from Draper, plating the tying and go-ahead runs.

Sophomore Jacob Carroll then took the mound in relief of Draper, and recorded a called third strike against Chesher on a biting curve ball to end the rally, but the Trojans were ahead to stay.

Durick walked two batters in the top of the third inning, but retired Rushville without a run. Cline worked a leadoff walk for New Castle in the bottom of the third, but the next three Trojan hitters were retired in order to end that inning, and keep the hosts ahead 3-2.

The next scoring came in the bottom of the fifth for New Castle.

Barber began the at-bat with a hit-by-pitch against Lion hurler Jacob Carroll. Chesher then reached on an infield single, and Cline followed with a bloop single to right center to load the bases with no outs recorded.

Jacob Lucas was retired on a soft line to second base, with the bases remaining loaded. Cole McDaniel then hit a sharp grounder down the third base line, which was fielded in a diving play for a force out at third base.

But a run crossed to make it 4-2, Trojans.

Then there were runners on first and second base with two outs. Nic Besecker then hit a high pop out in front of home plate which fell among three Lion fielders for a hit, loading the bases and allowing the inning to continue. But Holcomb fouled out, moving the game to the sixth inning.

Senior Logan Cline took the mound for New Castle, and retired Rushville in order in the top of the sixth inning.

In the home sixth, Huntley doubled to start the inning, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Barber then scored Huntley with a sacrifice fly.

Cline walked Duncan to start the top of the seventh, but got the next three outs to close out the victory.

“All three of our pitchers got the job done, with Tyler struggling a bit with his control early,” Gregory said. “Dakota (Durick) threw pretty well, even though he bounced a couple of pitches. Logan is our unofficial closer, and came in to do that job at the end.”

The new head coach is pleased with the progress of his charges.

“The kids are getting used to my calls, and I am getting used to how to use their talents,” Gregory said. “It just takes a little time for that to happen, and we easily could have won either of the games we didn’t win earlier in the season.”

He spoke of the upcoming road games.

“We have three tough games coming up this weekend (at Guerin Catholic Friday and at Richmond for a doubleheader Saturday), so we were able to save some arms with the pitches we got out of Dakota tonight. He did a good job to help our team.”

The Trojans will be without Brandon Matney for around a month, at least, due to a fractured bone in his foot, according to Gregory.

“Brandon has to stay off the foot for three weeks, and then he sees the doctor,” Gregory explained. “We hope he will be able to play again by the end of the season, or the sectional.”

Rushville was scheduled to play at Greensburg Thursday.