TIOGA CENTER — Like they say, it’s hard to beat a team three times in a row and Tioga proved that point after they took advantage of some key Edison errors to claim a 6-5 victory in Class C sectional semifinals on Wednesday.
The Tigers overcame their regular season defeats against the Spartans where they lost 4-1 and 10-2 in their previous matchups.
Thomas Cook started off on the mound for Tioga and managed to keep the Edison offense at bay after the top of the first inning.
Pierce Hendershot led things off for the Tigers forcing a walk and advanced into perfect scoring position. Mason Booser hit a blooper towards third, bringing home Hendershot on an error. John Worthing notched a single and beat the throw then his brother Brady tapped a bunt down the first baseline and beat it to bring in Booser, putting the Tigers up 2-0.
Although Cook struck out during his at bat, he took the out with pride as the catcher attempted to throw down to second, but came up short. Brady Worthing beat the throw down and John Worthing managed to steal home to slide in safe, pushing the Tigers to a quick 3-0 lead.
In the top of the second, Cook managed to shut down the TAE offense again which lit a fire in his teammates as they stepped up to the plate.
In the bottom of the inning, Seth Franks grabbed a single on a grounder to short then advanced to second on an overthrow. Hendershot forced another walk and Franks stole his way to third and then tagged up when Booser popped one up to left field, adding another Tiger tally. Hendershot then took off and made his way around the bases, eventually scoring on an crucial error by the Edison shortstop as Tioga jumped ahead 5-0.
Although Tioga was on a roll, the momentum changed hands in the third inning as the Spartans got into a groove and weren’t ready to give up just yet.
Edison fought hard to force back-to-back walks then Xander Burch stepped up to the plate and drove one into right field, bringing both runners home trimming the deficit to 5-2. A single to center by Josh Tryon then a two-run RBI double by Tyler Lewis allowed Edison to close the gap to 5-4.
A lead off double by Derrick Barto and a walk to Christian Weaver gave the Tigers a second wind in the bottom of the third. Then Franks tapped a single into the gap to bring home Barto, pushing Tioga up 6-4.
Although Edison managed to grab another run in the fifth by taking advantage of an error, Hendershot came in for the last four innings of the game to take over the mound for the Tigers and grabbed the win.
“Wow, just wow” said Tioga coach Kevin Evanek after the game. “That’s all I can really say at the moment.”
Evanek couldn’t have been more proud of his team and said he had to change things up a bit from their normal routine in order to come away with the win.
“I kind of switched my strategy up a little bit and had Thomas (Cook) start instead of Pierce (Hendershot). I think everyone was expecting Pierce to start and Thomas came in did exactly what we needed him to. We had the lead going through three innings and then Pierce came in and shut the door,” added Evanek. “It was a game of momentum for a while. We had it then they had it there in the fourth and we had to work to get it back. Their guys started throwing harder when they scored some runs and then Pierce threw just as hard when we needed to get the flow back our way so it was great.”
“I think we rattled them there a little bit on the safety squeeze there early on in the second, but it was all good. It was enough” noted Evanek. “Edison is a great team. They beat us twice this year, but we made up for those earlier losses”
Cook struck out three batters and gave up three hits, three walks, and four runs over three innings of work. Hendershot struck out seven of the 17 batters he faced, giving up three hits and only one walk in relief.
“We did take advantage of a few mistakes, but we made a couple ourselves as well so thankfully it ended in a wash.
“We’ve been on a roll lately,” added Evanek. “Our pitching’s been good, our fielding’s been good, and now our hitting is coming together so as long as we keep all three going together I think we can keep doing good things. We’re just going to keep doing what we always do and play small ball. We will get our swings in tomorrow in the cage and we will be ready to go on Friday. ”
The Tigers will look to take on Deposit/Hancock on Friday for the Sectional Finals.