SIDNEY – The Sidney Cowboys scored 11 runs over the first three innings and held on late for a 12-8 win over East Mills, Tuesday, July 14.
The win moved Sidney into a district final for the first time since 2015.
“The kids are excited,” Sidney head coach Brad Johnson said. “We wanted them to embrace the moment, every pitch. Our seniors didn’t want this to be their last game. We told them to be good today and make sure this isn’t the last time you play competitively.”
The Cowboys took advantage of opportunities in the opening innings. They scored three runs in the first inning after East Mills had put two on the board in the top of the first. A walk and a Garett Phillips single started the inning. A wild pitch moved the runners up and then an East Mills error scored Leighton Whipple. A two-run single by Cale Phillips gave Sidney the early 3-2 lead.
East Mills tied the game in the top of the second, but then the Cowboys took control with a five-run home second that included just one hit and four Wolverine errors.
“We hit the ball well,” said Johnson. “They had the errors, but we were putting the bat on the ball. If you put it in play, good things happen.”
Meanwhile, Whipple began to settle down on the mound. After giving up another run in the third inning, he shut the Wolverines down, retiring 11 consecutive batters at one point.
“I just want to thank my defense,” said Whipple. “They helped me get settled in.”
A two-out walk in the sixth inning ended the consecutive batters retired streak and Whipple’s day on the mound right at 90 pitches, which kept him available to pitch in Saturday’s district final.
“Leighton threw strikes and placed the ball where he wanted it,” said Johnson. “He wants the ball and works hard. I would have liked to seen him finish it, but this kept him available for Saturday.”
Brett Gruber came on to pitch and got some defensive help immediately when Will Oswald made a diving catch in center field to end the sixth inning.
Gruber doubled, stole third and scored on an error in the bottom of the sixth to extend Sidney’s lead to 12-4, but the Wolverines showed some fight in their final at-bat.
After a strikeout to start the inning, the next four Wolverines singled, cutting the Cowboy lead to 12-6 and loading the bases. An error added another run and brought the tying run to the on-deck circle. Gruber responded, though. Andrew Jackson hit a groundball to short and the Cowboys recorded the out
at second base, allowing a run to score. Mason Crouse followed with a comebacker to Gruber, who threw to first from his knees to end the game.
Garett Phillips led the Cowboy offense with two hits as they improved to 8-3 on the season.
East Mills’ season ended at 7-7.