Sacred Heart jumped out to an early lead and held off Tipton, beating the Cardinals 6-4 in the final of the Kaysinger Conference Tournament Thursday at Dey Field at Liberty Park.
Gremlins starter Caleb Tanguay struck out six Tipton batters in the first three innings before changing things up and pitching to contact. He got the win in six innings of work, allowing seven hits and two runs.
“I was just getting worn out a little bit,” he said. “The first inning I was dealing. We just played really good. The score speaks for itself.”
It was Tanguay’s first start in a while and his fastball was working, especially early on. He struck out the first two batters of the game before issuing a pair of two-out walks. He got another strikeout to get out of the jam. In the second inning he retired the Cardinals one-two-three, then worked around a two-out double in the third and a one-out single in the fourth.
“This was the longest outing he’s had all year and it might be the longest outing he’s had in his life,” said Sacred Heart coach Jaric Reid. “He’s wanted this game for over a year so we let him go that long. I think he got a little tired out there. He was up around 90 pitches in the fifth and sixth inning. He was battling through it. He was pitching to contact and letting his defense work for him.”
Tipton got a pair of hits off Tanguay in the fifth before breaking through with a pair of runs in the sixth.
“We just had to let the game come to us,” said Tipton coach Andy Turner. “He’s a good, quality pitcher. We just had to be disciplined at the plate to get the pitch that we knew we were going to be happy with.”
Tipton committed six errors in the game and four Gremlin runs scored on wild pitches.
Sacred Heart got on the board with a run in the first inning. Jack Smith was hit by a pitch, took second on an error on a pick-off attempt and went to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a Tanguay single.
“Before the game, coaches told me not to worry about batting, just to pitch,” he said. “I just went out there and made contact with the runner on third. Fortunately it got in the outfield and we scored a run.”
The Gremlins added three more in the third inning. Michael Hohne reached on a one-out error and stole second. After a walk to Smith, Ben Smeltzer bunted but the throw to get Hohne at third was off-line, allowing Hohne to score and Smith to advance to third. Smith and Smeltzer both scored in the inning on wild pitches.
Wild pitches brought home two more runs in the fourth.
“You’ve got to credit Sacred Heart, they put the ball in play,” Turner said.
On the mound for Tipton, Luke Mercer allowed two hits in 3 2-3 innings. Grant Huhmann came on in relief, working out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and allowing one hit in 2 1-3 innings, striking out four. He retired Sacred Heart in order in the sixth.
“Grant has been an outstanding pitcher all year,” Turner said. “I thought Luke pitched a good game. Unfortunately we just had the small errors. If you look at both pitchers, they pitched very well.”
Tipton got on the board with two runs in the top of the sixth. With two out and runners at second and third, Nik Fowler-Hainen hit a sharp grounder that Gremlin second baseman Kohei Kodama couldn’t handle and David Richardson scored. Bryce Crowe followed with a single up the middle to score Dylan Cooper.
“Later in the game, they’ll get on to that starting pitcher,” Reid said.
The Cardinals got two more in the seventh. Richardson singled to score Logan Hirst and Ryan Wood scored on a groundout. Tipton had the tying run on base before a strikeout ended the game.