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Hornets beat Bison in extra innings

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SHUTOUT STRIDE: Rossville starting pitcher Payton Dennison shut out Benton Central for six innings before being relieved to start the seventh.
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WINNING MOMENT: Rossville’s Corbin Beard (11) puts his arm around teammate Mark Soiseth (5) after Soiseth’s eighth-inning bunt brought home the winning run in the Hornets’ 1-0 win over Class 3A No. 8-ranked Benton Central on Friday.
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CAUGHT IN A TRAP: Rossville catcher Reid Douglas runs Benton Central’s Matthew Taylor back to third, where he was tagged, in a seventh-inning rundown during Friday’s game.
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UP, UP AND AWAY: Rossville’s Evan Price goes airborn near home plate after the winning run scored in the Hornets’ 1-0 win over Benton Central on Friday.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Pitching and defense prevailed into extra innings of a baseball battle between two state-ranked teams in host Rossville and Benton Central until the Bison’s defense finally cracked in the eighth inning for a 1-0 Hornets win.

“Let me start with (Benton Central),” Rossville head coach Brad Scott said. “That’s a damn good ballclub. Top to bottom in that order is solid.

“(Hornets starting pitcher) Peyton Dennison came out and he did a phenomenal job on the mound,” he added. “I can’t say enough about him and our defense. We played clean defense and we threw strikes and it gives us a chance to win.”

Rossville (5-1) came into the game ranked fourth in Class 1A by the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association, while Benton Central (7-2) was ranked eighth in Class 3A as a larger school.

“I’m super proud of every player on this team from starters to our dugout to everybody, just super proud,” Scott said. “That sums this game up – pitching and defense – both ways. I mean one run. It could have gone either way, but that’s a big win for our ballclub though.”

Benton Central brought in their best pitcher, Matthew Taylor, after Rossville’s Adam Terrell hit a single between third and short in the seventh inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Kirby Meeks moved pinch-runner Dirk Shaw to first, Taylor sandwiched two strikeouts around an intentional walk to Rossville’s Dawson Jacoby and a hit-batsman in Evan Price to get out of a bases-loaded jam.

Taylor wasn’t as lucky in the eighth, with Rossville’s Kelton Saylor getting on board after the Bison’s shortstop rushed a throw to first that bounced away from the first baseman. Taylor didn’t help his cause when he couldn’t handle a bunt by Corbin Beard cleanly putting two Hornets on board.

Taylor, who looked first at third base, then threw away an ensuing bunt by Mark Soiseth at first, allowing Saylor to come home with the winning run.

“Guys have to execute bunts,” Scott said. “They brought their ace in there late and I’m just super proud of how we executed our bunts at the end and made them make the play. Unfortunately for them at the end, they didn’t make that play.”

Meanwhile, the Hornets did make plays in the field when the game was in the balance.

Meeks came in to relieve Dennison for Rossville in the top of the seventh inning. He gave up a single to Taylor on a liner to short center to start the inning and hit Taylor Varnado, putting Bison on first and second.

After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, Meeks fielded a ball hit back to the pitcher, going home to catcher Reid Douglas who caught Taylor in a pickle before he was tagged out at third for the second out. Meeks got out of the inning getting the next batter to fly out to center.

“There in the eighth they had a runner at second and third with one out and a chance to score there and a ground ball there back to the pitcher and we got them in a pickle,” Scott said. “We executed though. Early on a couple weeks ago, we would throw that ball away. All the guys on the team were phenomenal today and executed when their number was called.”

He also highlighted a hustle play by Douglas at catcher in the fifth inning that may have saved a run. A runner was at third for Benton Central after a sacrifice bunt when Douglas made the play.

“They had a chance to score there in the fifth and they had a squeeze bunt attempt where our catcher (Douglas) literally had to dive just to keep the ball foul (on the first-base line),” Scott said. “That effort right there, that’s the play of the game in my opinion.”

After a walk, Benton Central’s Justin Tucker hit a hard liner to shortstop Dawson Jacoby who caught Kolton Rider lingering off first for a double play to end the threat.

Meeks got the win for the Hornets in relief, striking out two and allowing a hit in two innings of work. Dennison struck out four allowing three hits and a walk in his six innings.

Dennison, Saylor, Soiseth and Adam Terrell registered the only hits for the Hornets in the game, with Jacoby walking twice and Terrell once.

Rossville had a doubleheader scheduled at Tri-County on Saturday, with their next game at home against Sheridan at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

At Rossville

BISONS 0, HORNETS 1

Benton Central 000 00 00 — 0 4 5

Rossville 000 000 01 — 1 4 3

Benton Central ab r h bi

Totals 25 0 4 0

Rossville ab r h bi

D. Jacoby 2 0 0 0

E. Price 2 0 0 0

P. Dennison 4 0 1 0

K. Saylor 4 1 1 0

C. Beard 4 0 0 0

M. Soiseth 4 0 1 0

A. Terrell 2 0 1 0

K. Meeks 2 0 0 0

L. Mathews 2 0 0 0

L. Andrews 1 0 0 0

Totals 27 1 4 0

Pitching ip h r er bb so

Benton Central

C. Hall 6 4 0 0 2 1

M. Taylor(L) 1 0 1 0 1 2

Rossville

P. Dennison 6 3 0 0 1 4

K. Meeks(W) 2 1 0 0 0 2