SELLERSBURG — Sans seven seniors — five of whom start — short-handed Silver Creek fell behind Borden 6-0 Tuesday night.
Facing their largest deficit of the young season who would the Dragons turn to? A freshman of course.
Fifteen-year-old Holden Groher showed why he’s already committed to play collegiately at Indiana, spearheading Silver Creek’s 14-8 come-from-behind win. Groher pitched the final 5 2/3 innings to pick up the victory in relief and helped his own cause with a pair of hits and four RBIs as the Dragons (7-0), who are ranked No. 4 in Class 3A, stayed perfect.
“We went down 6-0 early and we weren’t sure what we were going to do, but I always have confidence in my team,” Groher said. “The team had my back. Everyone hit well, it was just so fun to be a part of it.”
Silver Creek, though, was missing a big part of its team, a septet of seniors who are on a class trip to Washington D.C.
Some 600 miles away, the Dragons were digging themselves an early hole.
Silver Creek starter Tyler Wheeler struggled with his control early in the game. He hit Borden’s leadoff batter, starter Lucas McNew, who stole second, then scored on Kyle Leftwich’s RBI-single.
In the top of the second the Braves batted around, helped by a hit batter and a pair of walks, in scoring five times. Enter Groher, who had previously pitched only once this season. He walked the first batter he faced to load the bases before striking out Jonah Hall to escape the inning.
Groher then helped himself in the bottom of the third when he launched a two-run home run off right-handed submariner Zach Knight, who had relieved McNew.
“It was actually funny because Coach gave the steal [sign] and you’re not supposed to swing when he gives the steal [sign],” Groher said. “But I just saw a pitch and I thought, I couldn’t let this one go.”
The Dragons took the lead with a six-spot in the fourth thanks in large part to Groher’s two-RBI single and Wheeler’s three-run double.
McNew knotted the game at 8 with a two-run homer in the top of the fifth before returning to the mound in the bottom of the inning.
In the home half, Jack Hawkins reached first on an infield single. He moved to second on a sacrifice, then scored when Davis Dewitt beat out a close play at first for an infield single of his own.
Things snowballed from there as the Dragons plated another run in the fifth, then four more in the sixth.
That was more than enough cushion for Groher.
“Holden did a great job," Silver Creek coach Joe Decker said. "Even in that [second] inning, it was a tight situation when he came in and got the third out to get us out of the inning. Other than the McNew home run that’s really the only mistake he made. Other than that he was really, really good the rest of the game.
"It was good for him to have that kind of an outing. He’s really good, but he hasn’t had to throw a lot. Sammy [Barnett]'s thrown a lot and Tyler’s thrown a lot and it was good to get Holden back on the mound.”
The loss was a bit of deja vu for the Braves (3-5).
“It seems to be our MO here. Two years ago we got off to about a six- or seven-run lead and couldn’t hold onto it and we kind of experienced the same thing here tonight,” Borden coach Eric Stotts said. “I think we got a little complacent offensively. And then, of course, we had some pitching woes there towards the middle and latter part of the game. We just weren’t able to out-hit those mistakes. Unfortunately, for us, they ended up surging there in the midway point of the game and we couldn’t sustain and hold them.”
Dewitt led the Dragons’ 13-hit attack with three while Wheeler added two.
“It’s always a good week for us to see how the younger guys react, how they step in and play in this situation,” Decker said. “When you’ve got seven guys gone you’ve got to rely on other guys. I thought Jack Hawkins did a great job of getting us going that one inning and then Davis Dewitt had a big hit. Those guys haven’t been playing much. The guys that haven’t gotten a chance to play a lot did a good job. So it was good to see them do that. It just makes it harder on me to figure out who gets to play and who deserves playing time.”
SILVER CREEK 14, BORDEN 8
Borden 150 020 0— 8 12 1
Silver Creek 002 624 X—14 13 1
W — Holden Groher (1-0). L — Lucas McNew (2-1). 2B - Cory Anderson (B), Tyler Wheeler (S). HR — Groher (S), McNew (B).
Records — Borden 3-5, Silver Creek 7-0.