GREENFIELD — Greenfield-Central’s first two baseball wins of the season came at the expense of Pendleton Heights. The Cougars hope their final win wasn’t also against Pendleton Heights.
Hayden Kissee pitched 6.1 effective innings and added a two-run home run to help Greenfield-Central defeat the Arabians 7-3 Thursday in the Class 4A Sectional 9 quarterfinals.
The host Cougars – defending sectional champs – will face Richmond (18-6) in the semifinals Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The prospects of a second straight G-C postseason title looked relatively grim just a week ago. Back in early April, the Cougars (13-10) opened 2014 with a doubleheader sweep of Pendleton Heights. As of late, though, G-C slumped, dropping five of their last seven regular season contests.
Thursday, G-C played like a sectional contender.
After Pendleton Heights put together a pair of first-inning singles for a 1-0 lead, Kissee didn’t allow another hit until the fifth inning. By then, the Cougars were ahead 6-1 and well on their way to the semifinals.
“That’s one of the better games we’ve played in a while,” said G-C coach Brian Murphy, who added with a laugh, “That’s not saying much. That doesn’t exactly mean we’re ready for the Yankees, but yeah … we played better than we have lately.”
Back-to-back doubles by Jared Banton and Slater Rush highlighted a three-run Cougars’ third inning, then Kissee helped himself with a two-run shot in the fourth off PH starter Quentin Miller.
The Cougars were 0-for-8 with four strikeouts to start the game against Miller.
“We got some key, timely hits,” Murphy said. “We didn’t see Miller the first time we played them. I don’t know if he was still coming off basketball or what. But I thought our guys did a nice job adjusting the second time through the order to what he was doing.”
G-C’s three runs in the third inning came with two outs, as did another run to make it 6-1 in the top of the fifth. Seth Adams singled, then pinch-runner Andrew McDowell stole second, advanced to third on a Syrus Fletcher single and scored on a balk.
Pendleton Heights (the home team on the scoreboard) pulled within 6-3 in the bottom of the fifth on a two-run double by Austin Ellingwood.
Rush completed the scoring in the seventh frame, leading off with a double and eventually coming around on a Pendleton Heights infield error.
Kissee, who allowed three earned runs on six hits with four strikeouts and three walks, gave way to reliever Mitch Gibson with one out in the seventh inning. Gibson recorded a strikeout and got a pop-up to end Pendleton Heights’ season.
In addition to strong pitching and hitting, the G-C defense came through.
Kissee walked PH’s Thomas Hall to open the fourth inning, but Rush (at second base) and Gibson (then at shortstop) turned a nifty double play to end the threat.
In the Arabians’ two-run fifth, Nate Grile attempted to score from first base on Ellingwood’s bases-loaded double. But the G-C relay from centerfielder Drew Jameson to Gibson to catcher Fletcher beat Grile to the plate.
“We made some nice plays,” Murphy said. “That relay to the plate was really good. That double play that Slater and Mitchell turned. It was good to see.
“It’s one of those things … you knew the kids had it in them, but it’s been so long since you’ve seen it.”
Murphy hopes to see more of it Saturday.
Richmond advanced Thursday in the second quarterfinal with a 11-3 win over Connersville.
New Castle (16-10) will face Anderson (14-18) at 5:30 p.m. in the first semifinal.
The championship is Monday at 6 p.m.
Greenfield 7, Pendleton Heights 3
SCORE BY INNINGS R H E
GC (13-10) 003 210 1 — 7 8 3
PH (17-12) 100 020 0 — 3 6 2
WP: Kissee. LP: Miller.
GC: Kissee 6.1 IP, 6 H, 4 K, 3 BB, 3 ER, 1-3, HR, 2 RBI; Banton 2B, RBI; Rush 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI; .
PH: Ellingwood 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Hunter-Cook 1-3, RBI.