GREENWOOD — The signs have been there all season that the offense would put it all together in a game for Greenwood. It finally happened Thursday afternoon in a big way for the Bulldogs.
Greenwood used a nine-run second inning to pull away from Booneville in a 12-2 five-inning win during the first game of a doubleheader. The offensive surge was the most runs the Bulldogs have scored so far this season, topping their previous best of seven.
“It’s been a matter of time because we have been hitting the ball hard and having good at-bats,” Greenwood first-year Coach Brandon Brewer said. “We haven’t had anything to show for it. We were able to get runners on base and execute after that to get things going in this one.”
Greenwood (5-3) needed the bats to get going in the game after falling behind early. Brooks Herrera hit a leadoff home run Booneville (4-3), while Peyton Tatum scored off a Dunn Daniel RBI single. That gave the Bear-cats a 2-0 lead after half an inning.
The Greenwood pitching staff locked in after that, allowing zero runs and the bats found success early and often.
The win was the fourth in a row for Greenwood, which is tied atop the standings in 5A-West play. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Booneville, who is tied atop the 3A-4 standings and have outscored conference opponents 58-3 in three wins.
The Bulldogs chipped away at the lead in the bottom of the first inning. Dawson Holt scored on a first-pitch, two-out double from Brady Pettigrew to cut Booneville’s lead to 2-1.
The second inning was when the Bulldogs took control of the game with their bats. Greenwood had 10 hitters reach base and used five hits to score nine runs for a 10-2 advantage. No. 2 hitter Holt and No. 9 hitter Austin Bercher each had two-run doubles to help break things open.
“From the top to the bottom, we were locked in especially in the second inning when things were going well,” Brewer said. “We just need to compete every inning. I think if we can do that, we’ll be alright. But it was great to see the production the entire lineup.”
Greenwood added to its lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. Weston Pschier and Bercher had back-to-back sacrifice flies to score Braden Skaggs and Hunter Houston for a 12-2 advantage.
The offense was backed behind a strong outing on the mound from Grant Karnes, who picked up the win. He pitched 4 innings while issuing 3 hits and 0 walks with 99 strikeouts.
After he allowed three hits and two runs in the opening inning, Karnes didn’t allow a base runner after that and finished his outing with 10 consecutive outs.
“Once I got the pitches located and my velocity went up as the game went along, I got it figured out,” Karnes said. “The offense really helped me out on the mound. It makes it a lot easier when you are pitching with a lead. Booneville started hitting the ball early. But I felt really good settling in after that.”
Bercher from the bottom of the order led the way for Greenwood with a three-RBI performance. Pschier and Holt had two RBI as well with Pettigrew and Skaggs also finishing with one each. Skaggs and Houston each scored a team-high three runs. Holt finished with two runs scored while Karnes, Austin Mitchell, Pschier and Bercher scored runs as well.
“Like coach said, we have a plan and I stuck with it,” Bercher said. “When we do that, our bats have been lights out. It helps to have a great coaching staff with the reports we get. I just like hitting the fastball and try to drive in runs. I just want to help this team win.”