An improbable tournament run continued last week for Coach Kyle Brewer and his Manchester Greyhounds baseball squad in the Southeast District Division IV tourney. After going just 5-13 in the regular season, the Hounds entered postseason play with a new vigor and it paid off with the school’s first sectional championship in five years when the No. 10 seeded blue and gold pulled off a major upset on May 13, knocking off the No. 2 seeded Portsmouth Notre Dame Titans in a 3-2 thriller.
The formula for success was the same as it had been in the sectional semi-final win over Eastern Pike, pitching and defense. Again it was the right arm of sophomore Sean Frost leading the way with a complete game win, working out of a bases loaded, one out jam in the bottom of the seventh to secure the win.
“Coming into this game we knew that Notre Dame had a very strong team with great pitching, hitting, and defense,” said Brewer after the win. “With Frost on the mound, we felt we could control their hitting, which we did all throughout the game.”
“Sean gave us another dynamic performance and our defense did a fantastic job of backing him up.”
The Titans got on the board in their first at-bat, getting a run after two were outs when Frost hit a batter then gave up a run-scoring base hit.The Greyhounds tied the score in the top of the third. Rickey DeAtley began the frame by reaching on an error, stole second, and was bunted over to third by Leevi Francis. Frost popped out to first for the second out but Hunter Conley came through with a two-out single to center that plated DeAtley and evened the game at one apiece.
That lead vanished quickly when the Titans picked up a run in their half of the third, but that was the last time they crossed the plate against Frost and the Hounds.
In the top of the fifth, Bryan Young, leading off, was hit by a pitch and stole second. One out later, Francis got an infield hit that moved Young over to third and he came home when Frost helped his own cause with an RBI ground out to shortstop that tied the score. The Hounds loaded the bases after walks to Conley and Mason Applegate but the threat ended when Tyler Brummett went down swinging on a 2-2 pitch.
The game then came down to the decisive seventh inning. In the top half, the Greyhounds took their first lead of the game. With one away, Francis drew a walk and swiped second. A ground ball to second by Frost moved the go-ahead run just 90 feet away. Conley came to the plate and hit a ground ball that was momentarily bobbled by the Notre Dame first baseman. By the time he recovered, a hustling Conley had beat him to the bag while Francis came home to put the Hounds up 3-2.
The bottom of the seventh turned out to be pure nail-biter for Greyhound fans. The first two batters for the Titans reached on a single and a walk, putting the winning runs aboard with no outs. The next hitter laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved the winning run into scoring position and when Frost walked the next hitter on four pitches, the sacks were jammed and the nerves on high alert in the Manchester dugout.
Big players came up big in the clutch and that’s exactly what happened next as Frost dug down deep for just a little extra and got a strikeout swinging for the second out and the game boiled down to one final hitter. On the very first pitch, a pop up came Frost’s way and he snagged it to set off a celebration as the Hounds were sectional champions with a heart-stopping 3-2 win.
The Manchester offense produced just three hits off Notre Dame pitching but Frost allowed only six in his third consecutive complete game win, two of those in tournament play. The Greyhound righty walked four and struck out five in the victory which propelled the Hounds into the Division IV District Tournament.
Manchester moved on to face Waterford in the district semi-finals last Saturday night at the V.A. Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe. Look for a report on that game in the upcoming weekend edition of The People’s Defender.
Mark Carpenter can be reached at 937-544-2391 or on Twitter @adamscosports.
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Manchester Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Frost 4-0-0-1, Conley 3-0-1-1, Applegate 3-0-0-0, Brummett 3-0-0-0, Hoskins 3-0-0-0, Thornburg 2-0-0-0, Young 2-1-1-0, DeAtley 3-1-0-0, Francis 1-1-1-0, Team 24-3-3-2.
Manchester Pitching: Frost (W) 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 103 pitches.