South Caldwell eliminates Watauga Juniors
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Watauga's Junior Legion team saw a chance to even its playoff series slip away in a 6-4 loss to South Caldwell Saturday at Watauga High.
South Caldwell (21-1), which swept the three-game series 2-0, took a final 6-4 lead in the top of the sixth inning by breaking a 4-4 tie. Back-to-back sacrifice flies by Trent Wakefield and Nick Shields gave South Caldwell its two-run lead.
Watauga (12-10-1) looked like it had an answer when Adam Greene and Carson Isaacs opened the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back singles. Greene reached third on a Jesse Illich fielder's choice.
Tyler Sturgill's shallow fly ball was caught by South Caldwell right fielder Taylor Purus, who gunned down Greene trying to score on the play. The double play ended the inning, and Watauga went down in order the following inning.
Watauga took advantage of two South Caldwell errors in the third inning. Hunter Isaacs and Colby Illich opened the inning with back-to-back singles.
Isaacs scored on an error on a ball hit by Jesse Illich. Sturgill squeezed home Colby Illich with a bunt, and reached base when the throw to first went past first base.
Sturgill drove in a run with a single in the fifth, and scored on a Steadman Sauls sacrifice fly to tie the game 4-4. Watauga finished with nine hits off South Caldwell pitcher Phillip Page, who tossed a complete game. Justin Greer finished with two hits for Watauga.
Jesse Illich started on the mound for Watauga and reached the fifth inning before he started to struggle with finding the strike zone. Illich allowed six hits, all singles, and struck out eight.
Walks hurt Watauga. Of the five free passes Watauga pitchers gave to South Caldwell batters, four of them scored a run.
Page hit a two-run single off Illich in the fifth before Illich was pulled in favor of Isaacs. Dalton Manning reached base on an error, which drove in another run, but was caught in a rundown trying to get Page to score from third.
Sturgill foiled the play by calmly walking close to the pitchers mound and getting the ball to Greer, who was playing second. Greer chased Manning back to first and eventually tagged him out to end the inning.
Page, who hit a seventh-inning double, had two of South Caldwell's seven hits. Ethan James also had two singles, including one that drove in a third-inning run.