Greenwood Christian baseball coach Doug Hagist had seen the scenario played out before.
Too many crucial errors proved costly.
“Morristown played well, but I don’t think we played as well as we’re capable,” Hagist said. “I feel like we felt we gave this one away.”
Morristown rallied from a 4-0 deficit to eliminate GCA 7-6 on Saturday in the first round of the Class A Morristown Sectional. The Yellow Jackets advance to today’s semifinal meeting with Indianapolis Lutheran.
The Cougars, who finished with a 14-10 record, took a 1-0 lead on a run-scoring single by sophomore catcher Colton Flint in the first inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Hagist chose to pull starting pitcher Trey Harney, who had seven strikeouts and allowed just one hit. Harney had made 58 pitches, and if he reached 60 pitches he would not have been available to pitch Monday because of IHSAA rules.
“People can get upset with me, but I was playing to win the whole sectional,” Hagist said. “When I play to win the sectional, I’m keeping our No. 1 pitcher under 60. But if you look at what happened after that, we were up 1-0 and we got up 4-0. Then our No. 2 pitcher (Charlie Overton) got in a little trouble. We brought in a freshman (Preston Van Til) at the end. He threw strikes. They hit the ball hard maybe once. Everything else should have been caught. It was walks and miscues. I don’t regret (pulling Harney), but if people want to blame me, I’ll take it.”
Hagist said the players agreed they were playing to win three games. Hagist said the plan no matter what the score was to limit Harney to under 60 pitches so he could be a closer Monday. Harney said he knew of the plan and agreed it was the right decision.
“It was the errors; it wasn’t pitching,” Hagist said.
The Cougars had expanded the lead to 4-0 in the top of the fifth inning. Sophomore Mason Wright doubled and scored on an error. After a walk, two more runners came home thanks to aggressive base running on a fielder’s choice.
The Yellow Jackets tied it with four runs in the bottom of the fifth. Morristown loaded the bases on two singles and a walk with one out. On a chopper hit back to the mound, Overton hastened a too-hard throw to the catcher, it got past and two runs scored.
“He could have just ran it home,” Hagist said, to get the force out. “But I remind myself Charlie is a sophomore.”
Morristown’s Bryce Bryant followed with a two-run double. The Yellow Jackets scored three more in the bottom of the sixth to take a 7-4 lead on two singles, a walk and two more errors.
The Cougars battled back in the seventh, loading the bases with a single and two walks. Sophomore Wyatt Schlageter delivered a two-out, two-run single to GCA back within a run, but Morristown pitcher Jacob Rains got Wright to fly out to end the game.
“The kids fight hard and I’ll give them that. They’re young,” Hagist said. “They got a lot to look forward to, but they’re disappointed, I’m sure.”
The Cougars’ lone seniors were outfielders Aden Sloan and Caleb Parson.
Hagist said his young players are talented.
Flint had three singles and a walk and threw a runner out. Hagist said freshman Caden Camden made a great play at third base to get the team out of jam.
“They just struggle mentally and struggle with errors,” he said. “There is a lot to look forward to, but it’s frustrating right now.”
Harney said the experience should be a benefit.
“We’ll be back next year,” he said.