By KEVIN HARRIS
NEW ALBANY —
The Silver Creek 13-14-year-old Baseball All-Stars have lots of experience about coming through in big games.
On Wednesday evening at Mt. Tabor Park, that experience assisted the Creek Stars a bunch.
Silver Creek, which won the 13-year-old District 5 title and was the 13 state runner-up last year, rallied from a 3-0 deficit to defeat Jeff/GRC 5-3 in pool play of the District 5 Tournament.
Silver Creek (3-0) is now in first place by itself in the division standings, while Jeff/GRC and Highlander Youth Recreation are tied for second at 2-1.
Down two runs after five innings, Silver Creek scored two runs apiece in the top of the sixth and seventh innings.
A well-executed squeeze play turned the momentum toward Creek in the sixth.
With one out and runners on second and third base, Silver Creek’s Michael Feeler laid down a bunt between the mound and first base off of Jeff/GRC relief pitcher Bradley Cross. As Jeff/GRC made the 1-3 putout, right fielder Mason Hall easily scored from third on the suicide squeeze to cut Jeff/GRC’s lead to 3-2.
Then Creek’s Blake Wurm smacked a Cross pitch to deep left field to knock in Drew Bush from third to tie the game at three.
“That was a big play. It gave our kids a little confidence,” Silver Creek manager Jeff Hawn said. “It made our kids and our dugout that much happier. Everybody was ready to hit then.”
In the top of the seventh, Creek immediately loaded the bases when Jacob Balz walked, Derek Hall hit a double to left-center field and Justin Brown drew another walk.
Jeff’s Matthew Harbeson, who relieved Cross after the Brown walk, struck out Brian Campbell. But Mason Hall drove in Balz from third on a fielder’s choice to give Silver Creek its first lead of the contest at 4-3.
Jeff/GRC (2-1) tried to turn a double play in that situation. Second baseman Adam Starr flipped the ball to shortstop Jacob Cochrum at second for the forceout. But Cochrum could not get the throw to first in time to get Mason Hall.
“We just couldn‘t turn that double play. That‘s the play we had to have,” said Jeff manager Rob Harbeson, who saw his team turn two double plays earlier in the game. “When you get those opportunities, you’ve got to cash them in.”
Two batters later, Matthew Harbeson walked Feeler with the bases loaded to extend Creek’s lead to 5-3.
All three of Jeff’s runs happened in the bottom of the first inning.
A fielding error, a walk and a single by hard-hitting third baseman Cam Northern loaded the bases with none out against Silver Creek starting pitcher Cody McAfee. Cochrum drove in Cross from third on a sacrifice fly to center.
After McAfee walked Jeff/GRC’s Kyle Hayes to load the bases again, Harbeson drilled an opposite-field single to right to knock in Austin Hall and Northern.
“We came out and strung a couple of hits together,” Rob Harbeson said. “We were patient at the plate, but we were still aggressive. Matthew Harbeson came out and ripped that two-RBI hit into the outfield. That kind got us going.”
The Jeff scoring ended once Wurm hit the mound. Wurm came in for McAfee in the bottom of the second and proceeded to shut Jeff down. In 5 2-3 innings of work, Wurm allowed no runs on three hits with one strikeout and one walk. Derek Hall got the final Jeff/GRC batter out in the bottom of the seventh to collect the save.
“He was a big part of today’s win,” Hawn said about Wurm. “We wouldn’t won that game if he didn’t pitch like he did. He was unbelievable. That was a good Jeff hitting lineup and he was able to shut them down.”
Wurm’s effort left Rob Harbeson impressed.
“You‘ve got to give them credit. He came in and did a good job,” the Jeff/GRC skipper said. “He kept us off-balanced. We got a couple of good hits, but we couldn’t string them together.”
Silver Creek’s defense did an outstanding job of backing up Wurm. Creek did not make any errors during Wurm’s stint. Silver Creek turned two double plays and McAfee, who moved to catcher when Wurm took the mound, threw out Cochrum stealing in the bottom of the third.
Hawn said having McAfee behind the plate makes his team’s defense much better.
“He is our No. 1 catcher,” Hawn said. “Once we got him back there, it felt like normal for the boys. The defense got back in line and that’s when they started making plays.”
At the plate, Wurm went 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Northern led the Jeff/GRC bats, going 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored.
Austin Hall, who started Jeff, yielded one run (unearned) on four hits in 3 1-3 innings. He walked two and struck out none. Cross threw 2 2-3 relief innings, surrendering four runs (all earned) on four hits. Cross walked four, hit one batter and had no strikeouts.
On Tuesday, Silver Creek scored seven times in the first inning on four hits and four Clarksville errors and went on to win 15-5 in five innings.
Both teams play today. Silver Creek will face HYR at 5:30 p.m., followed by Jeff/GRC versus Clarksville at 8 p.m.
DISTRICT 5 TOURNAMENT
SILVER CREEK 5, JEFF/GRC 3
Silver Creek 000 102 2—5 8 1
Jeff/GRC 300 000 0—3 5 1
W — Blake Wurm. L — Bradley Cross. S — Derek Hall. 2B — Wurm (SC), Derek Hall (SC), Cam Northern (J).
Records — Silver Creek 3-0, Jeff/GRC 2-1.