By WAYNE PHILLIPS
Sports Editor Emeritus
South Greene's Daniel Lowery and Ben Seaton combined to knock in all seven runs, and Seaton went the distance on the mound to lead the Rebels to a 7-4 win over county rival West Greene in a Blue Ridge Athletic Conference game Monday afternoon at Tusculum's Pioneer Park.
The Rebels bunched all their runs in a two-inning spurt, which turned out to be enough for Seaton, who allowed 10 hits but managed to work himself out of some jams despite a pitch count that grew to 105 by the time the game ended.
"Ben doesn't play any other sports, so he's pitched enough during the off-season that his normal pitch count will be around 100," winning coach Phillip Cutshaw said after his Rebels improved to 4-1 on the year and a perfect 3-0 in the BRAC.
The Buffs wound up out-hitting the Rebs 10-9, but they couldn't overcome the two big innings that propelled South Greene to victory.
"It was a good game," Buff Coach Mark Bowles said. "Little things are such a big part of baseball, and there were some little things that made a difference. But give South Greene credit. They got some really clutch hits."
Nothing was more clutch than the back-to-back two-run singles that Lowery and Seaton contributed in the bottom of the third inning which allowed South Greene to come back from a 2-0 deficit and take a 4-2 lead.
Then in the fourth, both Lowery and Seaton came through again with run-scoring base hits that were smacked with two outs, allowing South Greene to open up a 7-2 lead.
"We've talked about coming through with big plays, and those two certainly did that today," Cutshaw said. "It was good to get those seven runs because West Greene kept battling and we never got anything off their reliever (Braxton Potter)."
The Rebs chased West Greene starter James Marshall in the fourth after scoring the seven runs. Potter came on in relief and went the rest of the way, not allowing a hit and giving up only one base runner to a walk in the fifth.
The Buffs got an early 2-0 lead, manufacturing a run in the first and third innings. Alex Gregory, who had three hits on the day, slapped a single to left with one out in the first, went to third on a double by Marshall, then trotted home on a wild pitch.
In the third Gregory again started it with a single up the middle, went to second on a balk call against the pitcher, scampered to third on a slow roller back to the mound by Marshall, then scored on Tyler Crigger's infield groundout.
South Greene got the leadoff runner on in each of the first two innings but couldn't capitalize. Todd Neas, who collected three hits on the day, started the first with a double to the gap in left-center, went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Dallas Malone, but was left standing there when Marshall got a bouncer back to the mound and a strikeout.
In the second Jon Zavaletta walked to start the frame but was later erased on an inning-ending double play turned by pitcher Marshall, who fielded Justin Casteel's bouncer to the mound, wheeled and fired to Potter at short who gunned down Casteel at first.
But the third time was the charm for the Rebs. Dylan Yates struck out to start the inning but reached first when the ball got past the catcher and rolled to the bricks. After one out, the Rebs pieced together four straight hits which included the big two-RBI blows by Lowery and then Seaton.
In the home half of the fourth South Greene struck for three more. Logan Tweed reached on an error and Neas followed with an infield hit. The runners advanced on a catcher's error. With two out, Lowery swatted a two-run single up the middle to get his third and fourth RBIs of the game, and Seaton then mashed a double to left that scored Lowery.
That forced a pitching change with Potter replacing Marshall and the Rebels were quiet the rest of the way.
West Greene scored two in the fifth and it could have been much more productive after they loaded the bases with nobody out. Austin Greenlee started it with a base hit to right, Gregory hit a double to left and Marshall was hit by a pitch to load the sacks.
Crigger hit a chopper back to the mound that ended with a force at home plate. Derrick Livingston bounced a ball up the middle for an infield hit that scored one run, and the second run came across when the Rebs made an error trying to field the ball and throw home.
But Seaton got out of the mess with no additional damage, retiring the next two batters on a fly to right and a pop-up to short.
The Buffs also got the lead-off batter on in the sixth, a double by Tanner Earley. But the next three batters were retired. They had two runners on in the seventh, a one-out single by Crigger and a two-out hit by Potter, but Seaton coaxed the third out on a fly to the outfield to end the threat and the game.
Neas with three hits and Lowery and Seaton with two hits each led the Rebels. West Greene got three hits from Gregory and two hits from Tanner Earley.
Seaton was the winner on the mound, striking out three and walking two. Marshall took the loss for the Buffs, who drop to 1-5 on the year and 1-2 in the conference.
The two teams meet again this afternoon at West Greene.
"Hopefully the field with dry enough that we can play," Bowles said. "It was a mess today."
The cold and wet March weather has played havoc with everybody's schedule, Cutshaw said.
"It's the worst I've seen since I've been coaching," he said. "Here it is the first day of April and we've only played five games. It's hard to get much done with practice in the gym, but that's what we've tried to do."