8-run 7th inning lifts Tigers

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE Seneca East's Rickie Lacy throws a pitch during the district semifinal game against South Central in Clyde Thursday.

CLYDE –With two outs in the fifth inning, Seneca East’s season appeared to hang in the balance.

The Tigers were trailing South Central 3-0, and to that point had accomplished little against Trojans starting pitcher Isaiah Seidel.

And with two out in the fifth and a runner on first, it looked like the trend would continue.

But Carter Lacy slapped a single to left. It turned the order over, and brought up one of Seneca East’s best hitters, Rickie Lacy, for his third plate appearance.

Rickie Lacy clubbed Seidel’s pitch to center.

“I saw that pitch,” the Tigers’ leadoff hitter said. “It was right down the middle, and it was a meatball. And when it came off the bat, it felt amazing.”

The ball was hit over the South Central outfielders.

Andrew Kalb and Carter Lacy scored. And Rickie Lacy had appeared to turn second when the throw in from the outfield was wild and went out of play.

That meant he was awarded home, tying the game at 3.

“That definitely made me feel better, that we weren’t down,” Rickie Lacy said. “Because we were down from the second hitter of the game.”

The Tigers would be down again, but only briefly. The Trojans scored a run in the bottom of the sixth to regain the lead, 4-3.

But Seneca East responded with two runs in the top of the sixth, then broke the contest wide open with eight runs in the seventh. The Tigers won, 13-4.

With that win, the Tigers improved to 16-11, and will face Norwalk St. Paul today for the Division IV district title. The Flyers reached the final by routing Hopewell-Loudon, 14-1 in the day’s second game.

Seneca East fell behind early, after Simon Blair hit an RBI double, and Seidel followed with an RBI single. The Trojans then made it 3-0 with an unearned run in the third.

But starting pitcher Rickie Lacy was able to keep his team in it until the offense got going. He went six innings, allowing four runs, three earned on six hits, three of which came in the first inning.

“He had runners on early, and I was going ‘Uh, oh,'” said Seneca East coach Rick Bowerman said. “He’s a grinder. He’s gonna get out, and he’s gonna say, ‘OK, give me the ball.’ If you noticed a couple times, when they got base hits, he wanted that ball right away. He wants to get that next batter out.”

Lacy struck out eight batters.

“It was very tough, but with the support of my teammates, it made it a lot easier,” Lacy said. “Because without them, it would have been extremely hard to stay up with myself. There were times I thought about getting down, but they helped me up.”

After the Trojans retook the lead in the bottom of the fifth, Seneca East answered, getting a little help from the South Central defense.

Tyler Turek walked to open the inning, then Hunter Martin laid down an exceptional bunt between third and the mound. Seidel’s throw to first was wild, and went into right. Turek went to third, Martin to second.

Chase Foos struck out, but then laid down another bunt toward first. Another wild throw — this time by the first baseman, allowed two runs to score, and SE had its first lead, 5-4.

The Trojans mustered one final threat in the sixth. With one out, Dylan Copus was hit by a pitch, and with two out, Philip Madison reached on a wind-aided pop-up single that dropped in the infield.

That brought up Blair. The count went full.

But another pitch wasn’t required. With South Central pinch runner Shane Vanderpool at second, Lacy noticed something from the mound.

“I saw him — the first time when I came up to throw it home — he was running right as I picked my leg up,” Lacy said. “So, next time, I did that pivot-pickoff, and he was running to third.”

Lacy ran Vanderpool toward third, then threw to SE third baseman Turner Bridgford.

The inning was over.

So, too, was the drama.

Because in the seventh, Lacy added a two run single, Daniel had an RBI single, and Seneca East put up eight runs, turning a tight game into a lopsided final.

There were also a number of defensive miscues by the Trojans.

“We did give them a couple runners,” said South Central coach Ty Dendinger. “They executed, we didn’t.”

Jake Hall closed the game by striking out the side in the seventh. He is slated to start today against the Flyers.

If Thursday was any indication, facing St. Paul’s lineup with be a tough task.

In the nightcap against the Chieftains. The Flyers had 12 hits, scored seven runs in the second and seven runs over the final two frames to run-rule H-L.

Lars Livengood went 4 for 4 and scored three runs.

H-L (19-7) also committed six errors in the loss.

“It got away from us. We’ve been playing well, and they handed it to us,” H-L coach Tony Swanagan said. “We had that bad inning, but honestly … we had some errors, but they swung the bat too. You’ve got to give them credit.”

Noah Miller started for the Chieftains, and lasted 1 1/3 innings, allowing six runs, all earned.

Ethan Oswalt drove in Hopewell-Loudon’s only run, with a base hit in the first inning.

Cody Balliet had two hits for the Chieftains.