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May 1, 2012

H.S. BASEBALL: Dragons explode

Fourth-ranked Silver Creek rally from 5-0 deficit to down Pioneers, 11-6

SELLERSBURG — For the first 2 1/2 innings on Tuesday evening at Silver Creek High School, it did not look like the Silver Creek baseball team was going to snap its two-game losing streak.

Visiting Providence bolted out to a 5-0 lead, which included a pair of home runs. But in the bottom of the third inning, the Dragons’ high-octane offense kicked into high gear.

Class 3A No. 4 Silver Creek scored five runs in the third and four runs in the fourth en route to defeating the rival Pioneers, 11-6.

“I was concerned, especially after losing the last two games,” Dragon senior Jared Vest said about the 5-0 deficit. “But there is always that hope that something will spark us and we can come back.”

The Dragons’ first run in the third came on a one-out RBI double by Lucas Barnett. With two out, Jacob Armstrong came home on a fielder’s choice by Jamie Valvano to pull Silver Creek within three runs.

Then Vest provided the Dragons (13-3) the spark they needed.

Vest launched a fastball from Providence starting pitcher Brenden Popson over the left-center field fence for a three-run home run to tie the game at five.

“I felt before that we felt down,” Vest said. “But after (the homer), we got into a groove playing again and we got amped up.”

The Pioneers (7-8) got the lead back in the top of the fourth. With two out, junior Justin Starr took a 2-0 pitch from Armstrong, the Dragons’ starter, and drilled the ball over the fence in dead center field to give Providence a 6-5 lead. It was the second of two homers for Starr, who hit a three-run blast in the second inning that landed in nearly the same spot.

But the Pioneers’ advantage was very short-lived.

In the bottom of the fourth, Barnett tied the game at six with an RBI single. Two batters later, Shae Durham smacked an opposite-field base hit into right to plate Layne Taylor and Barnett to give Silver Creek its first lead of the contest at 8-6.

The Dragons went up three runs thanks to a delayed double steal with two out. After Valvano swiped second base, Durham charged home from third once Providence catcher Cristian Ensley tried to throw out Valvano. For the game, Silver Creek stole seven bases.

“The delayed steal was a big key for us today,” Dragons’ assistant coach Scott Jennings said. “We put pressure on them by running hard.”

Silver Creek added two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth when Brooks Howell collected a two-out, two-RBI single to center.

Durham did a good job of keeping the Pioneers’ offense at bay with a solid relief pitching performance.

The sophomore right-hander threw the final three innings, yielding no runs on one hit with a strikeout and a walk.

“Shae did a good job,” Jennings said. “He threw strikes, let them hit the ball and we made the plays behind him.”

Junior Andrew Hunt contributed to Providence’s outstanding start with one swing. On Armstrong’s first pitch of the game, Hunt smacked the ball over the right-field fence to put the Pioneers up 1-0.

Starr hit his three-run shot in the next frame with two out. George Knott gave Providence the 5-0 advantage in the second when he came home from third after Tyler Simms advanced to first on a passed ball after swinging at strike three.

But the Pioneers could not maintain the momentum thanks to five errors.

“It was good at the start, but we didn’t handle the lead well. They came back and put us away,” Providence head coach Scott Hornung said. “We can’t make plays right now to finish off games.”

Barnett went 2-for-3 with a double, a run scored and an RBI. Taylor was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two stolen bases, while Howell went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Durham had two runs scored, two RBIs and two stolen bases, while Valvano contributed two runs and two steals.

Despite a rough outing, Armstrong got the victory to improve his record to 3-0. In four innings of work, the senior right-hander gave up six runs (five earned) on six hits. He walked five and struck out two.

Starr went 2-for-3 with four RBIs and two runs scored. Knott also went 2-for-3.

Popson suffered the loss, as he surrendered eight runs (one earned) on six hits in three-plus innings. Popson struck out two, walked one and hit one batter.

Following the game, Hornung sent a stern message to his players in his post-game speech.

“I want them to play with a sense of urgency — to play every pitch 100 percent. We need to show eagerness to play the game,” Hornung said. “The reason I’m acting that way to them is we’ve got the potential to do that.”

Silver Creek will host a critical Mid-Southern Conference game at 6 p.m. on Thursday against Class 3A No. 3 North Harrison. The Cougars are currently undefeated in MSC play, while the Dragons have one conference loss.

Providence will entertain Madison at 6 tonight.

PROVIDENCE    140 100 0— 6  7 5

SI. CREEK    005 402 x—11 10 1

    W — Armstrong (3-0). L — Popson (2-4). 2B — Barnett (SC). HR — Hunt (P), Starr 2 (P), Vest (SC).

    Records — Silver Creek 13-3, Providence 7-8.

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