GREENFIELD — At the plate with runners in scoring position for the second time on Tuesday night, Spencer Hert knew the pitch he wanted to see.
It was just a matter of catching a glimpse of one at the right time.
Down 0-1 in the count in the bottom of the third, the Greenfield-Central senior stayed patient, zeroed in and he didn’t miss.
With the Cougars trailing 4-2 in their home opener, Hert blasted a go-ahead three-run home run en route to a 7-5 win against the defending Class 4A state champion Roncalli Rebels.
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“That’s where all my home runs go for some reason. I don’t know why. They all go to right-center. It’s OK with me,” Hert quipped after the Cougars knocked off the state’s fifth-ranked team in 4A. “The wind was blowing out, too, so all I was doing was looking for an outer pitch. I finally got one.”
The shot propelled the Cougars into new territory. At 3-0 on the season after sweeping Lawrence North 3-0, 5-2 on Saturday, the streak marks the longest the team has strung together in more than two years.
The win also avenged an 11-0 loss to the Rebels last April on Indianapolis’ south side.
“We flipped it around this year,” said Hert, who finished 2-for-3 with four RBI. “Hopefully, we can keep the momentum going because I want to keep winning. This is fun.”
The source of the Cougars’ power so far, according to head coach Robbie Miller, is in his hitters’ approach, similar to Hert’s.
“I’ve told Spencer for a few years, he can be a great hitter, if he tries to go the other way,” Miller said. “When he doesn’t try to do too much, he’s pretty good. He stayed short, got it up in the wind, and it went.
“I tell them all the time, ‘quality at-bats.’ And they’re doing it right now. I don’t remember a bad at-bat tonight.”
Drey Jameson recorded the Cougars’ first of seven hits with a first-inning single to left field. Hert later drove in Jameson with a line drive to left and one out.
Greenfield-Central pulled ahead 2-0 off a two-out single to left field by Noah Ramsey to bring home freshman Adam Hutchison. Seth Robertson moved Hutchison into scoring position prior with a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt down the first-base line.
Hert’s homer was a response to a four-run Roncalli rally in the top of the third as Tommy Hansen matched the Cougars designated hitter nearly swing for swing.
Hansen went 2-for-3 with four RBI and had an RBI double in the fifth inning. He crushed a three-run home run in the third to chase Cougars starter Blake Wilson despite a solid outing from the sophomore.
Wilson was charged with one earned run and had two strikeouts in 2.2 innings pitched.
“When they scored their runs, we walked a guy and had an error. The guy made great contact and did what he was suppose to do,” Miller said. “But our guys, they’re battling and competing every chance they get.”
Kyle Kirkpatrick came in on relief and earned the win with 2.1 innings logged in his varsity debut. Bradley McDowell recorded the five-out save.
The Cougars added a pair of insurance runs in the fourth and fifth innings, both coming off of sacrifices.
Ramsey executed a suicide squeeze in the bottom of the fourth to score Robertson. In the fifth, Braxton Turner scored Brandon Vaughn from third with a sacrifice fly to left field.
Vaughn advanced from first base to third off an errant pick-off throw to first. Ramsey had two RBI and was 1-for-2.
“I have all the confidence in the world in Noah. In the fourth, it was a squeeze, and they didn’t know it was coming. That was the best part of it, and our guys just go and do it,” Miller said. “We did that again in the fifth. That’s what you have to do to win games.”
Greenfield-Central 7, Roncalli 5
WP: Kyle Kirkpatrick (GC). LP: Max Linton (RHS). SV: Bradley McDowell (GC).
HR: Spencer Hert (GC), Tommy Hansen (R). 2B: Tommy Hansen (R).
Notables: Spencer Hert 2-3, run, 4 RBI; Adam Hutchison 1-3, run; Noah Ramsey 1-2, 2 RBI; Drey Jameson 1-3, run; Nick Atwood 1-1, run; Landen Davis 1-3.