By CODY LEIST
PDT Sports Writer
ROSEMOUNT — At one point Monday, Clay led New Boston 14-7.
Normally that score would be associated with football. Instead, that was the score after five innings of play in a Division IV Southeast Sectional Semifinal baseball game between two schools that don’t offer the sport in their respective schools.
The No. 10 Tigers added one more in the sixth but that’s all the scoring that would take place as the No. 7 Panthers advanced with a 14-8 home win. They will travel tomorrow to play No. 2 Notre Dame for a spot in the district tournament.
“The offense stepped up real big tonight,” Clay coach Jeff Dixon said. “We were real aggressive on the basepath tonight, guys were getting from first to third on base hits and second to home and they were running really hard around the bases.”
The Panthers pounced out to an early 4-0 lead in the first with one hit and two walks issued by Glenwood starter Nate Payton. He allowed six free passes and hit a batter in his 3 1/3 innings of work.
The first of the two walks in the first was taken by Connor Phipps. Officially, Phipps was 0-for-0 as he was walked on all five trips to the plate.
The Tigers batted around in the third to take a 5-4 lead. Hits by Dustin Fitch and Jacob Crosier in the home half knocked in Phipps and Fitch to make it 6-5.
The third lead change came in the next half of an inning when Brendon Herrforth and Trey Branham crossed home plate to make it 7-6. Branham was driven in by Levi Horsley after he hit a single down the left field line.
Glenwood coach Jimmy Bailey was pleased with how his team bounced back on two different occasions to take the lead.
“We have great kids with great attitudes and they’ve learned the game quickly,” Bailey said. “There’s still a lot to learn but they have picked up on some things very quickly.”
The fourth and final lead change came in the bottom of the fourth. Clay sent 11 to the plate and doubled its run production for a 12-7 lead.
Phipps and Fitch scored the final two runs in the fifth, which were more than enough for Panthers starter Jared Ruby. The senior recorded his second win of the season with 11 strikeouts despite hitting four Tiger batters, two of them off the body off Zayne Stephenson.
“Ruby started off real well the first two innings,” Dixon said. “He was able to get the defense behind him and a lot of times we’ll struggle when we make a couple of errors and our pitchers get frustrated.
“I think that made him throw a little bit harder and he was throwing it a little less accurate. He was starting to throw some balls and hit those guys.”
Ruby got out of a first-and-third situation with two outs in the fifth. He was able to confuse Stephenson at first and was tagged out at second by Taylor Swayne to end the inning.
Payton tried the move himself in the first but failed when Fitch stole home and Crosier was able to return to first safely. The Panthers accounted for four stolen bases in the game, two by Fitch.
In his Clay baseball debut, Zach Phillips was 1-for-4 with a single and a run. Eric Grimm, who also joined the roster later in the year, was 0-for-3 with a walk.
“We’ve had to come together as a team as we’ve dropped some players with two injuries,” Dixon said. “…The guys, they just come together and they just want to go out there and play as hard as they can.”
Tomorrow’s meeting will be the first of a back-to-back between the Panthers and the Titans. Game One will be at Notre Dame while Game Two, a regular season makeup, will be Thursday at Clay.
Glenwood will play one more game to end its season, a regular season makeup with Eastern. The Tigers will try to send out Branham and Horsley, the lone seniors, out with a win.
“Levi and Trey both as seniors came in knowing that it was going to be rough,” Bailey said. “They were used to a lot of success in basketball … to have these kids come out and be leaders is just something I won’t forget.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or email@example.com.
Glenwood 0 0 5 2 0 1 0 — 8 5 5
Clay 4 0 2 6 2 0 x — 14 8 4
Glenwood — Herrforth 0-2 (BB, HBP, SB, 2 R), Branham 1-3 (BB, 2 R), Horsley 1-4 (3B, RBI, R), Shonkwiler 0-2 (2 BB, RBI, R), Moore 2-2 (2 2B, BB, HBP, SB, RBI), Stephenson 1-2 (2 HBP, R), Spicer 0-2 (BB, R).
Clay — Ruby 0-4 (BB, SB, 2 R), Phipps 0-0 (5 BB, SB, 4 R), Kelley 1-4 (HBP, 2 RBI, 2 R), Fitch 2-3 (BB, 2 SB, 2 RBI, 3 R), Gleason 1-4 (2 RBI), Swayne 1-4 (RBI), Phillips 1-4 (R), Grimm 0-3 (BB).
W — Ruby (2-4)
L — Payton (0-5)
Records — Glenwood 0-19; Clay 7-13.