PENDLETON — When the state tournament pairing were announced a month ago, Greenfield- Central baseball coach Robbie Miller didn’t hesitate. He knew exactly who he was throwing Game 1 against the Anderson Indians.
Of course, that was then.
After rain postponed the Class 4A Sectional 9 tournament at Pendleton Heights last week and revamped the schedule completely — forcing the Cougars to potentially play two games Monday — Miller decided to go with Plan B.
Instead of handing the ball over to ace pitcher Drey Jameson, a Ball State recruit, Miller called on senior Spencer Hert.
The move worked flawlessly as the Cougars run-ruled Anderson 10-0 in six innings to win their sectional semifinal at Bill Stoudt Field on Monday afternoon.
More importantly, the move saved Jameson’s arm for the evening’s sectional championship against Hoosier Heritage Conference foe New Castle.
“I scouted (Anderson), and the way Spencer has been throwing the ball the last three weeks, my mind changed,” Miller said. “It all worked out. I’m glad they didn’t make me look like an idiot.”
Contrarily, the skipper’s move was genius as the Cougars never trailed, defeating Anderson for the second time this year by 10-0 run rule.
Greenfield-Central (17-10) went up 2-0 after the third inning, and erupted for six runs in the bottom of the fifth to win its second straight game.
Freshman Adam Hutchison was 3-for-4, roping two doubles and a two-run home run over the right-center field fence in the bottom of the sixth to end the game. He finished with five RBIs.
“He threw me a high fastball, and I took it that way,” Hutchison said. “It felt good to get it and walk off. Hopefully, we can get a championship after (tonight).”
Anderson (11-16-1) was stymied by Hert throughout the afternoon as he threw 4.2 innings with six strikeouts during his 80-pitch victory.
Hert allowed just two hits and, despite six walks, Anderson never truly threatened due to a solid defensive effort behind the left-hander.
A pair of back-to-back inning-ending double plays shut down the Indians in the third and fourth frames. With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the fifth, Hutchison relieved Hert and left three stranded with a strikeout.
Hutchison struck out three and allowed two hits in 1.1 innings.
“Spencer threw well. He battled,” Miller said. “Hutch came in and had some trouble, but he got out of jams.”
The Cougars took advantage of six Indians errors, scoring a run in the first inning off a fielding miscue to go up 1-0. An RBI double by Hutchison scored Hert in the third to put Greenfield-Central in charge 2-0.
“I’m never worried about our pitching or our defense. It’s a matter of if we score runs, put the ball in play, I know good things will happen,” Miller said. “Early on we didn’t really hit the ball, but they didn’t make plays, and we capitalized and found some early runs. We finally figured it out in the fourth.”
The Cougars scored their six runs in the fourth behind two hits and three Anderson errors. Hutchison delivered a two-run double to put his team in front 6-0.
“If we keep our swings going like we did this game, it will probably get us the win,” Hutchison said. “We have a lot of confidence in Drey.”
Jameson enters the sectional title game with a 5-1 record and a 0.69 ERA. The senior has thrown five complete games, four shutouts and a no-hitter.
He has 86 strikeouts in 51.0 innings pitched with 24 hits against.
“We play with a different confidence when he’s on the mound,” Miller said. “He’s a gamer. Playing the game with the pitcher we want and everything on the line is all I can ask. That’s all these kids can ask.”
Greenfield-Central split with New Castle (21-8) during the regular season, winning the first game of the HHC doubleheader 1-0 and losing the second 8-0. The Cougars are aiming for their first sectional title since 2013.
Jameson pitched in the opener, one-hitting the Trojans with 10 strikeouts on April 8.
Greenfield-Central 10, Anderson 0, 6 innings
WP: Spencer Hert LP: Bailey Hunt
HR: Adam Hutchison (GC). 2B: Hutchison 2.
Notables: Hutchison 3-4, 5 RBI; Hert 4.1 IP, 6 K, 6 BB; Hutchison 1.1 IP, 3 K (GC).