Cool under pressure
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — A two-out, seventh-inning rally to tie the game put the mojo squarely in Washington Township’s third-base dugout.
It took South Central two batters, specifically Carson Husmann and Kyle Schmack, to reclaim it in the eighth.
Husmann singled, and scored the go-ahead run on a Schmack double, then pitched a scoreless bottom half to secure a nervous 4-3 victory in a Porter County Conference tournament semifinal Wednesday at Senator Park.
“You just have to know the game is still tied, anyone can win this,” Schmack said. “They may have scored, but they’re not ahead, it’s still our game 100 percent of the way. We’ve got to go in knowing that and we did. We probably should’ve taken advantage a little more when we were up, but I’ll take a win whenever we can get it.”
Schmack followed Husmann’s hit with a drive into the right-field corner to easily plate the tie-breaker. It was a similar swing plane to the one Schmack took in he first inning, when he put the Satellites up 2-0 with an opposite-field home run, his first long ball at the spacious yard, off Steven Hernandez.
“Especially today, they threw a lot of outside pitches,” Schmack said. “I don’t think I saw even one inside off-speed pitch. Especially against lefties, you’ve got to have a right-center, up the middle approach and it paid off.”
After working the first seven innings, allowing one earned run, Schmack yielded to Husmann, who worked around a one-out single to record the save as Todd Snyder secured a grounder near the second base bag for the game-ending force play.
“I love to take the ball in that moment,” Husmann said. “The momentum was definitely on their side. The fans were going crazy, they were going crazy, but we found a way to hone back in, and Kyle came up clutch.”
Satellites coach Ryan Kruszka said the eighth inning was a tossup between Husmann and Intagliata, and pitching coach Jarad Miller opted for Husmann.
“I trust his decision. It was the right choice,” Kruzka said. “That’s the guy you want to have the baseball.”
Intagliata doubled and scored on a Wes Battleday squeeze in the fourth and the margin looked like it would be plenty for Schmack, who breezed into the fifth with a one-hitter. Two-out errors by Snyder at second and Battleday in right preceded a James Hernandez single and it was quickly 3-2.
“Kyle threw a fantastic baseball game. Hats off to him, for the most part, being able to keep his composure and keep pitching, doing what he had to do,” Kruszka said. “We shouldn’t have put ourselves in that situation. That should be a different baseball game with a little more cushion.”
Schmack had Washington (17-4) down to its last strike when Myles DeBold laced a triple inside the first-base line to tie the game. After a protracted Hernandez at-bat that included a blooper over third base landing barely foul, he struck a sharp one-hopper to shortstop Trent Smoker, who made the play to extend the game.
“Things don’t always go your way. Both games we played them, we could’ve easily walked off the field winners,” Washington coach Randy Roberts said. “We fought. We have to work hard to try to make our breaks. We have to work hard and see what we can do to see them again down the road. I would expect to.”
The resiliency is a quality Kruszka wasn’t surprised to see from his team after the Senators comeback.
“I’m proud of the way they battled back,” he said. “They didn’t give up after their rally. To split the game between defense and offense, OK, now it’s our turn. All the guys responded. The heart of our order was really impressive, putting the bat on the ball.”
Schmack was 3-for-3 with an intentional walk, while Evan Walters and Intagliata each had two hits.
“I feel like, it’s high school baseball, am I going to punish Kyle for being good by walking him?” Roberts said. “We have to find a way to win the battle against those two (Schmack and Husmann), but it’s not like they’re the only two.”
Porter County Conference Tournament
South Central 4, Washington Township 3 (8 innings)
Winning pitcher Kyle Schmack homered and drove in three runs.