Morgan County Correspondent

Let’s gooo!

Pioneers erupt to win regional title

Mooresville players, coaches, administrators and a young child pose with their regional championship trophy after defeating Franklin 12-3 on Monday. (Steve Page photo / MCC)

MOORESVILLE — When Franklin’s Greyson Betts launched a two-run homer well over the left field fence in the fourth inning of Monday’s regional, the Grizzly Cubs enjoyed a 3-1 lead over host Mooresville.

Their fans cheered. But not for long.

Mooresville responded by sending 14 batters to the plate in the bottom of the inning, pounded out eight hits, drew two walks and scored seven runs.

Coach Eric McGaha then moved do-it-all catcher Hogan Denny to the mound, and Mooresville’s stopper blanked the Grizzly Cubs on two hits the rest of the way, striking out four and walking just one.

The Pioneer batters, with Selby Barton driving two doubles in the fourth inning, just kept pounding until they produced a 12-3 victory over their Mid-State Conference rival.

Mooresville, 30-3, advances to play Saturday against New Palestine, 25-5, at a site and time to be determined. The Dragons won the Jasper regional by shading Cathedral 6-5.

Denny said it was all about regrouping.

“We knew this would be a lot tougher game,” he said. “We rely on the guy next to us. We just rely on each other.

“Once we get the lead, it’s easier to play. When we relax, we play our best baseball.”

They looked relaxed and confident in the bottom of the fourth.

With one out, Barton ripped a double to left field. Brendin Oliver, Mooresville’s starting pitcher, lined a single to center, and Craig Teike came in as the courtesy runner. Freshman Liam Delp put down a perfect squeeze bunt, scoring Barton. Kaleb Kestler walked on four pitches, loading the bases. Denny ripped a single down the left-field line, plating Teike and Delp. The Grizzly Cubs intentionally walked Kaden Bruhn to reload the bases, and Tyler Denny walked on a 3-2 pitch, plating another run. Deklan Thompson singled to left, scoring Hogan Denny.

Franklin changed pitchers at that point, and the reliever hit Levi Dorn with a pitch, scoring Bruhn. One out later, Barton ripped a drive to right-center that got under the fence for a ground-rule double, scoring Tyler Denny and Thompson.

“It was a fastball,” Barton said. “He threw a changeup low, for a ball. The next pitch was a fastball down the middle. I got a little of the handle, but I knew it was good. I put it in a good place.”

The Grizzly Cubs finally got the third out, but Mooresville now led 8-3.

With Denny stopping the Cubs, the Pioneers banged out two more runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings.

Kestler reached on all four of his plate appearances, scoring three runs. Thompson had two hits, driving in three runs.

Hogan Denny was there for it all, including a spectacular restart to the game. The contest started on Saturday, but was stopped by rain in the bottom of the first, with two out, Denny on third and Dorn at the plate.

On Monday, Dorn drew a walk, and when the catcher nonchalantly flipped the ball back to the mound, Denny stole home.

“With the way the game stopped on Saturday, I wanted to get the energy on our side today,” Denny explained.

“We felt they would relax, with the throw back to the pitcher,” coach Eric McGaha said. “He’s one of those who can read it.”

Of the Pioneers’ big inning, McGaha said, “We have 11 seniors who are willing to sacrifice for one another. We have leadership from the seniors. They just don’t want to lose. I’m just so darned proud of them.”

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