On a night that felt like it was made for football instead of baseball, Grove City scored a touchdown and added the two-point conversion to go up 8-0 after an inning and a half en route to a 16-8 Division I district semifinal win Monday at Grove City High School.
Billy McCague hit a two-run homer in the fourth before Joe Haskins added a clutch two-run double in the fifth, bringing the eighth-ranked Pioneers within two, 10-8, by the end of the fifth, but the ninth-seeded Greyhounds found more than enough offense to secure the win.
Grove City used two-out hitting to get the early advantage as Haskins, who was pegged with the loss, couldn’t maneuver his way out of trouble in the first. Down just 2-0 with two outs in the top of the opening inning, Orange couldn’t get the out it needed as the Greyhounds connected on a two-run double to make it 4-0, an RBI single by the No. 9 hitter to make it 5-0 and another run-scoring single by the leadoff man to give them a 6-0 lead before the Pioneers even had a chance to hit.
After Orange went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the opening inning, Grove City went back to work, this time off relief pitcher Luke Wolford, who retired the first two batters of the frame before back-to-back two-out knocks set up a two-run single to balloon the margin to 8-0.
Wolford settled down after that though, limiting the damage while his offense went to work.
The Pioneers got their first run in the second when, after Brai Beckel started things with a sharp single between second and third, Anthony Mancini singled him home three batters later, making it an 8-1 game.
After Wolford sat down the Greyhounds in order in the top half of the third, the Pioneers got their second run in the bottom half, getting a sacrifice fly from Jared Leet — a shot which scored Wolford, who led off the inning with a hit.
Grove City got both runs back in the fourth, bumping the lead back to eight, 10-2, but Orange plated a combined six runs in the fourth and fifth to make a game of it.
The rally started when Cole McCurry started the fourth with a solid single. McCague promptly followed with his two-run blast — an opposite field shot easily clearing the right field fence.
The rest of the squad’s runs came as part of a productive fifth — an inning Leet started with a single. Beckel then worked a walk and, after a wild pitch moved the runners up, McCague connected on a sacrifice fly to make it a 10-5 game with two out and one on.
Brady Harris kept the rally alive with an RBI single, making it 10-6, and, after a patient Mancini earned a walk, Haskins connected on his two-run double to shrink the margin to two at 10-8.
That was as close as the Pioneers would get, though, as the Greyhounds only added to their cushion the rest of the way, scoring a run in the sixth and five in the seventh to account for the final margin.