Rockets rally to pick up first win

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Shelby County defeats Illinois team in marathon contest

By Brian Stone

Having gone nearly 12 full innings without deciding a winner, the Tuesday night contest between Shelby County baseball and a visiting Lake Zurich, Ill. team seemingly would not end.

Luckily for the Rockets, first baseman Hunter Housley was up to the task at hand.

With shortstop Caleb Collins waiting on second base in a 7-7 tie game, Housley took the first two pitches of the at-bat before roping a ball to left field and scoring his teammate, earning SCHS its first win of the season in a walk-off 8-7 victory.

“It was a great team win,” Rockets coach Devin Hicks said. “Guys never gave up and pulled for each other the entire game. We came back from down in the second inning and guys never doubted we were going to win it.”

Down 5-0 to its second Illinois-based opponent in as many nights, it was looking as if Shelby (1-3) was headed towards its fourth consecutive loss to start the season before the offense started gaining momentum.

The Rockets would go on to score six runs from the fourth to the seventh innings of play, largely due to the hitting of J.P. Marcum and Brandon Moore, each of whom turned in two RBI performances at the plate.

“As an offense, we needed to make some adjustments from the first three games,” Hicks said. “We focused on being aggressive to fastballs over the plate, being on time with the fastball, and having a two-strike approach from 0-0 count.”

Shelby plated three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning alone thanks to hits from Marcus Collins and Blake Palmer, knotting the game at 6-6 and sending the contest into extra innings.

Neither team was able to muster much offensive success until the 10th frame, when each team plated one run and the game rolled on.

Down 7-6 at that point, Caleb Collins would score on an error by the Bears (1-2), continuing the back-and-forth struggle between the two teams.

Lake Zurich had a chance to pull ahead of Shelby in the top of the 12th, but stranded two base runners to end the inning thanks to some stellar pitching by its reliever in Palmer, who tossed the final eight innings for the Rockets, while striking out five hitters and allowing just one earned run in picking up the victory.

“We were very excited with the command, poise, and competitiveness that Palmer showed [on the mound],” the Shelby coach said. “It seemed like once we got down five [runs] early, every pitch, play, swing we took had focus and conviction. It was a fun game to coach and I’m sure our fans enjoyed the heck out of it.”

Catcher Matthew Ellis was a large part of the team’s success at the plate, going 3-4 with one run scored and being hit by a pitch in one of his at-bats.

Shelby was slated to take on North Bullitt at home on Wednesday night, but the game was cancelled due to poor weather conditions.

The Rockets will attempt to pick up its second win of the year at home once again tonight, when it welcomes last season’s state runner-up in Simon Kenton (1-1).

First pitch for that game is slated for 6 p.m.