WATERFORD, Ohio — The Tornadoes put a scare in the league champs, but the Wildcats held off the storm and finished their perfect league campaign.
The Southern baseball team allowed Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division host Waterford to score three runs in the seventh inning and claim a 3-2 victory, on Tuesday in Washington County.
With two outs in the top of the first inning, the Tornadoes (12-5, 11-4 TVC Hocking) scored the game’s first run, as Billy Harmon drove in Dylan Smith.
The Tornadoes loaded the bases in the third inning, but back-to-back strikeouts allowed Waterford (20-4, 16-0) to escape unscathed.
Southern pushed its lead to 2-0 in the top of the fifth inning, when Trey Pickens scored on a Blake Johnson sac-fly.
The Purple and Gold loaded the bases again in the top of the sixth, but a double-play ended the frame.
Over the first six innings, the Wildcats left seven runners on base, including six in scoring position.
In the bottom of the seventh, Tyler McCutcheon scored on a Jordan Welch groundout for Waterford’s first run of the game. Then, Noah Huffman scored on a Braden Bellville sac-fly to tie the game at two.
On the very next at-bat, Clay Hayes beat out a throw for an infield single, with Isaac Huffman scoring from third for the game-winning run.
Hayes was the winning pitcher of record for the Wildcats, striking out two batters in two innings of relief, while allowing one hit. Bellville started on the mound and struck out five batters in five innings for WHS, allowing two runs, on four hits, five walks and two hit batters.
Blake Johnson suffered the loss in a complete game on the mound for Southern, allowing three runs, on five hits and three walks, while striking out six Wildcats.
Southern’s offense was led by Clayton Wood and Logan Drummer, both of whom were 2-for-4 with a double. Dylan Smith singled once and scored once for the Purple and Gold, Harmon and Johnson both drove in a run, while Pickens — who reached base successfully in all four plate appearances — scored one run.
Hayes led the Green and White, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Both teams committed two errors in the game. Southern left 10 runners on base, three more than Waterford.
This was the third of Waterford’s 16 league games to be decided by a single run. The Wildcats also topped SHS on April 18, by a 14-7 count in Racine.
Southern returns home to finish off the regular season, hosting Federal Hocking on Wednesday and Nelsonville-York on Friday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.