Franklin Central pitcher Bailey Buescher had kept the Franklin Community High School baseball team off-balance for six innings.
Nonetheless, Grizzly Cubs coach Ryan Feyerabend said he was optimistic.
“I felt we had one good inning in us,” Feyerabend said. “I won’t say he got rattled, but he stepped down just a little bit, and I knew we had a good shot to get runners across.”
The Cubs rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh to edge the Flashes 3-2 Wednesday night in the Class 4A Center Grove Sectional opener.
Franklin (12-10) will play Greenwood (15-10), an 8-0 winner against Martinsville in Tuesday’s late first-round game. The teams will meet in Monday’s semifinals.
Center Grove and Whiteland will meet in second semifinal Monday. The championship game is set for 6 p.m.
Greenwood senior pitcher Reid Werner was masterful with a no-hitter in Tuesday’s second game, striking out nine and not allowing a runner until a walk in the seventh.
Werner, who also had three RBIs, struck out nine.
In the first game, sophomore catcher Alec MacLennan singled to start off Franklin’s rally, and speedy sophomore Jonah Rockey came in as a courtesy runner.
“Jonah is the fastest kid I’ve seen around the base paths,” Feyerabend said.
Sophomore Lucas Bramlett reached on an error, and Rockey scored on junior Jerris Lee’s single. Then with one out, Bramlett slid past the Franklin Central catcher on junior lead-off hitter Stone Peddycord’s grounder.
“Every game this year has looked like this,” Feyerabend said. “We don’t blow people out. We play quality defense and get quality starts and we compete.”
Franklin had just two hits, one a homer by senior pitcher Andrew Hartkorn, before getting two hits in the seventh.
“You have to give credit to their left-hander (Buescher), he was awesome all night,” Feyerabend said. “He had a lot better velocity than we (knew). We knew he had decent off-speed. But with the heat, he had his fastball really working.
“We were a little taken aback the first couple of innings. We stayed at it. We have a handful of seniors who are big in big moments.”
The Flashes (8-13) went ahead 2-1 in the top of the seventh when Austin Guisinger and Eric Rigsby singled and Gusinger scored on Buescher’s sacrifice fly.
Hartkorn, a senior, had pitched the first six innings, giving up seven hits and one run. Austin Frankl pitched the seventh and got the victory.
“Andrew Hartkorn has been lights out for us all year,” Feyerabend said. “Obviously, he makes good pitches and hits home runs. He does it all. He pitches out of jams.”
In the second inning, Franklin Central’s Cole Humphrey doubled to lead off. Noah Weeks followed with a single, but Hartkorn retired the next three batters.
The Flashes also wasted a lead-off double by Humphrey in the sixth inning.
“It’s second nature to me if someone gets on, it’s not a big deal to me. I buckle down and throw strikes,” Hartkorn said. “My defense does the rest of the work.”
Hartkorn hit a home run in the third to give Franklin a 1-0 lead. The Flashes tied it in the fifth
“As soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone,” Hartkorn said. “It was just me. It was top to bottom.”
Hartkorn pointed out the rally started with the No. 6 hitter.
“They’re younger than the top of the order,” Hartkorn said. “But they stepped up just like we did.”
In the second game, Greenwood took a 1-0 lead on Werner’s sacrifice fly.
The Woodmen scored two in the second inning on Brayton England’s double and two wild pitches. Another run came in an on an error.
Greenwood pushed the lead to 6-0 in the third with the big hit being Lucas Marko’s two-run double.
Werner had a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth.
Braves cruise in opener
In a game that didn’t end until after 10 p.m., Indian Creek breezed to a 21-0 win against Northwest in Tuesday’s first round of the Class 3A Danville Sectional.The Braves (15-1) will play tournament-host Danville in a semifinal Monday.