By KEVIN HARRIS
It took a couple of innings for the Borden Braves to get their bats warmed up in the Class A Lanesville Sectional semifinals on Friday at Ed Jaegers Memorial Field.
But once the Braves started hitting, there was no turning back as they defeated New Washington in six innings, 13-3. Borden (8-12) plays in today’s 2 p.m. sectional championship game against Class A No. 5 South Central. The Rebels defeated Rock Creek Academy in five innings in Friday’s second semifinal, 16-0.
The Braves ended up with 15 hits and had four players with multihit performances.
“In games like this, it’s difficult to hit when you know you are sort of the favorite. You want to come out and put some runs up,” Borden coach Brian Agnew said. “They did a very good job of keeping us off the bases. We didn’t score a bunch until the third. We got them in some trouble.”
David Vansant, the Braves’ No. 7 hitter, went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Teammate Kyle Kruer was a home run away from the cycle. The sophomore went 3-for-5 with a double, a triple, two runs scored and an RBI.
“We should have told him to hit the ball a little harder then,” Agnew joked about Kruer coming up short of the cycle. “David Vansant was huge for us at the plate.”
Borden clean-up hitter Jared Sanders was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs, and Braves’ junior Brian McGee went 2-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs.
Leading 1-0 in the top of the third inning, Borden scored four runs to go up 5-0, sending 10 batters to the plate.
Kruer got the Braves’ scoring started in their by lacing a single to left field off Mustangs’ starting pitcher Danny Nix to knock in Sam Beckort from second base. Two batters later, Sanders smacked a bases-loaded single to left to plate McGee.
“We were hoping to stay away from a big inning defensively and put a run or two on the board early,” New Washington coach Scott Matthews said.
That was followed by Nix walking Josh Vollstedt with the bases loaded to put Borden up 4-0. Nix immediately got pulled for left-handed reliever Lane Johnson.
“Nix did a good job. He just ran into trouble in the third inning,” Matthews said. “They started hitting him and then you compound that with three walks. I thought both of our pitchers did a nice job.”
The Braves increased their lead to five runs when Vansant knocked a one-out single to left to score junior Garrett Vick from third.
The Mustangs (2-18) got their first run in the bottom of the third. Senior Dustin Cooper collected a two-out single to drive in Joe Kehrwald from third.
Borden added two more runs in the fourth to extend its lead to 7-1. After McGee smacked a double to the right-center gap, Kruer plated him with a triple to deep center. Kruer later scored on a 5-4-3 double play.
New Washington pulled to within 7-3 in the bottom of the fifth with a pair of runs. Following a two-out double by James Clemons, Cooper knocked in Clemons with a single to center. Nix followed two batters later with a double to left to score Cooper. Shortly thereafter, Agnew pulled Vick, Borden’s starter, for Kruer.
Borden iced the game in the top of the sixth with six runs as 11 Braves batted.
Borden began the frame with four consecutive hits with the biggest knock being an RBI single to left by Sanders. Vansant and teammate Caleb Hart each had back-to-back RBI base hits with one out.
After Johnson walked in a run with the bases loaded, McGee collected a two-run single to right to plate Vansant and Hart.
“Something we did well that we haven’t done well all year was getting big hits in big situations,” Agnew said. “We put runners on base, we had some good quality at-bats and we reaped the benefits from that.”
Vick got the victory on the mound. He pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits. Vick struck out six, walked one and hit one batter.
“[Vick] did a nice job on the mound for us,” Agnew said. “I could’ve left him in, but there was no sense in doing that. I wanted to take care of his arm and make sure he was good to go, just in case we needed him [today].”
Borden got swept by South Central in a doubleheader during the regular season. The Braves only lost 2-1 in the opener, followed by a 7-3 setback in the nightcap.
“South Central is a very strong team,” Agnew said. “We knew going into the season if we were going to be there at the end [of the sectional], it would be against them. They are very well-coached and they have excellent players.
“I just told our guys if we have any chance at all against them, we’re going to have to play a perfect game.”
Cooper was the only multihit player for the Mustangs, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. In two-plus innings of work, Nix surrendered five runs (four earned) on four hits. He struck out three and walked three.
New Washington says goodbye to five seniors in Cooper, Corey Snider, Jason Beevers and Josh and Jake Harbin.
ROCK CREEK-SOUTH CENTRAL
The Lions had no answer for Rebels’ starter Cory Ray. The freshman tossed a one-hit shutout as he pitched 4 1/3 innings of no-hit ball. Rock Creek junior Jake Cundiff broke up the no-hitter in the top of the fifth with a one-out single.
South Central scored 10 runs in the third inning and wound up with 14 hits for the game.