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Almost like calling a shot, the Shelby County Rockets knew they had to put up at least seven runs in beating Spencer County on Wednesday.
And the Rockets did just that, actually tacking on an extra run to down the Bears (6-8), 8-2.
The runs were important for the 30th District race, which now has three teams tied with one loss. Shelby County is 2-1 in district play, but Anderson and Spencer are both 1-1 with games remaining against Eminence.
The tiebreaker is a complicated formula based on runs allowed in the district. Shelby wanted to score at least seven runs against Spencer to ensure Anderson maintained a lower total (and hence the No. 1 seeding). which would mean the Rockets wouldn't have to face favorite Anderson in the first round.
“We wanted to come out and put pressure on them to make plays and make them beat us,” SCHS Coach Bart Roettger said.
Shelby did just that, starting in the second. Two Spencer County errors gave Taylor Boone a chance to hit, and he came away with a two-run single. Then in the bottom of the third, another Spencer error led to John Hunter’s RBI single.
After Spencer scored one in the top of the fourth, the Rockets answered again, this time on Jared Clarkson’s sacrifice fly to left.
Eric Standafer added an RBI double, and just like that the Rockets were up, 5-2.
However, to move the district seedings around the Rockets still needed two more runs.
In the fifth, Shelby all but ended it.
With two outs, James Wright stepped up with the bases loaded. He already had hit the ball hard twice right at Spencer outfielders, and he had reached with a bunt single.
This time he found the gap in the outfield, and the Rockets' base runners took care of the rest. Boone and Matthew Purdom scored, and Nick Hamblen forced Spencer County into a throwing error to clear the bases.
“He [Wright] has been really hot since we got him in the lineup,” Roettger said. “He’s been hitting over .400 since we put him in, and he’s started four of the last six games.”
Standafer then took care of the rest of the game. The junior pitcher threw 6 2/3 innings of two-run baseball, stifling Spencer County most of the night.
“We really wanted him to go all the way, but he started to run out of gas a little, and he was already over his pitch count with 107 pitches,” Roettger said. “Tre Bailey came in for the last out, but Eric was outstanding all night.”
30th District breakdown
With two more district seed games to be played, the results can change, but as of now the Shelby is 2-1, Spencer and Anderson counties are 1-1 and Eminence is 0-1.
Assuming the Spencer and Anderson beat Eminence – as the will be favored to do – three teams would be tied at 2-1.
The tiebreaker is runs allowed in district play. Shelby has allowed 12 runs, Spencer nine and Anderson seven. If neither team allows any runs to Eminence, Anderson wouldl get the No. 1 seeding, Spencer the No. 2 and Shelby the No. 3.
Spencer and Eminence played last night. However many runs the Warriors score against Spencer adds to the number of runs Anderson would have to allow in their district finale against Eminence for Spencer to get the No. 1 seeding.