By Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal
HATLEY – Being down with two outs is no problem for Hatley hitters.
The Tigers came from behind twice to beat East Union 7-6 Monday night and advance to the Class 2A state semifinals, scoring six of their seven runs on two-out hits.
Hatley will host Bruce on Thursday to open the best-of-three series.
“Our guys never quit. That’s been our motto all year,” said Hatley first-year head coach John Harris. “Never quit, and no regrets.”
East Union (24-10) opened up the game hot at the plate, with Trey Barkley leading off with a double and Dustin Pratt knocking him in with a double of his own.
Pratt and Cody Bo Dillard, who walked, then came around to score on Austin Basil’s RBI single.
Hatley (24-3-1) didn’t stay behind for long, scoring four runs in the bottom half of the first. Hunter Schrock began the two-out hitting with a single and Sawyer Weaver doubled. After Caleb Walters walked, first baseman Tyler Bowling knocked them all in with a three-run double and Josh Carlisle added an RBI single.
The Tigers plated another run in the second on starting pitcher Russ Johnson’s RBI single.
The Urchins got to Johnson, who got the win here on Friday, again in the fifth when Barkley led off the inning with a solo shot to dead center to tie it.
Alex Boland sent Dillard, who reached on a force out, home on his RBI triple and crossed the plate on Tray Davis’ sacrifice fly for a 6-5 lead.
Hatley took the lead for the final time in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Johnson and Weaver were hit by two Pratt pitches, while Schrock drew a walk. Walters’ two-RBI single gave the Tigers their lead.
You gotta believe
“We always believed until the very end that we could come back and win the game,” Harris said. “They just kept battling and never gave up. It showed at the end.”
Schrock relieved Johnson with two on in the fifth and pitched a scoreless final two innings, despite walking three East Union batters.
“It was tough work,” Schrock said. “I just went out there and threw strikes and put my trust in my team.”