PLYMOUTH — James Hackworth and Jacob Eaton delivered a strong one-two punch on the mound for Post 27, and Plymouth’s batters came through in their last time at the plate with four hits for three runs to break a 2-2 tie and claim a 5-2 sectional-opening win over visiting Valparaiso Post 94 at Bill Nixon Field Friday.
The two teams will face off again in the two-team, double-elimination tourney today at 1 p.m. with a potential third game scheduled to follow directly.
“Any time as far as double-elimination, winning the first one is so important,” said Plymouth Post 27 coach Mike Hite.
“I think our team is in the right frame of mind now, and we need to close it out. We didn’t close it out a couple weeks ago in our home tournament, unfortunately, but this is sectional time, and I think they’ll rise to the occasion.”
Hackworth gave up two earned runs off six hits and just one walk with eight strikeouts pitching seven and a third innings for the no-decision. He shut Valpo out through seven innings but gave up a two-run shot to right to Post 94’s Nate Majcher — who finished 3 for 4 — in the bottom of the eighth that knotted the score at 2-all. Eaton came in to shut the door on Valpo, earning five outs against five batters faced, including three strikeouts.
“James Hackworth pitched great, close to eight innings of shutout baseball,” said Hite. “He really gutted it out. He had them off balance and did a fantastic job.
“Eaton was a key. He’s been a stopper for us the last few games of the season, probably close to the last 10 games of the season. He did exactly what we needed him to do. He came in with not much time to warm up in the bullpen, threw strikes and got outs.”
Post 27 jumped on Valparaiso pitcher Bobby Humphreys 1-0 in the first as lead-off hitter Aaron Christenberry was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a walk and third on a sacrifice bunt from Brody Andrews before Kyle Cartwright drove him home with a ground-out to short. Humphreys settled into a duel with Hackworth, and the score remained frozen until Christenberry scored again in the top of the eighth, reaching on a fielder’s choice, taking second on a single from Sean Knepper and scoring on a hard grounder off Humphreys and through the gap into center to give Post 27 a 2-0 edge.
After Majcher’s two-run homer in the eighth, Evan Jurjevic led off the ninth hoofing out a single on a slow hopper to second, and Chase Peters scored him with an RBI double to left-center for the game-winner. Nicholas Latham singled to move Peters to third, and Christenberry drove both home with a two-out flare into shallow center to give Post 27 some insurance.
“They came through in the clutch,” said Hite. “That’s exactly what we needed. They came back in the bottom half of the inning before that and tied the score, and we came back and answered. It’s tournament time… and it was good to see the guys come through again.”
• PLYMOUTH POST 27 5,
VALPARAISO POST 94
At Plymouth Sectional
Plymouth: 100 000 013 — 5 9 0
Valparaiso: 000 000 020 — 2 6 1
James Hackworth, Jacob Eaton (W, 8) and Nicholas Latham; Bobby Humphreys (L) and Austin Cooley.
2B: Chase Peters (P), Garrett Walter (V)
HR: Nate Majcher (V)
Records: Valparaiso 13-9, Plymouth 17-13.