One poor defensive inning and another big inning for Wayne County was enough, as the Rebels ran into another tough starting pitcher — a theme of the summer.
"We had a lot of fly ball outs. Like I said earlier, that's something we've struggled with hitting the ball down. Hopefully, we're learning that when we hit the top half of the ball and drive it down, things happen and we're more successful. Hopefully, this is a good learning experience," HC coach Chris Wigley said. "Had a shaky second inning on defense, possibly could have been a six-pitch inning and been in 0-0, but missed a couple thrown balls."
For the game, out of 18 total outs, half were in the air with five fly ball outs and four pop up outs.
The Yellow Jackets got four runs in the second — only one earned — as the first two batters reached on errors and a third runner scored on an error. Wayne County then added four more runs in the sixth to end the game early.
One bright spot in the game for the Rebels was the continued solid play of shortstop Dalton Smith. With usual shortstop Lane Fortune spending some of the summer behind the plate and now out with an injury, Smith is getting a shot — and making the most of it — as it will give Wigley more options come next spring.
Smith had seven assists on the 16 outs HC recorded in the game, made a nice play deep to hold a possible double to a single and almost made a run-saving play up the middle.
"Dalton has always been an option there and he has taken this opportunity and has definitely shown he can play that spot. That might free us up. Lane Fortune is the best athlete on this team and one of the best athletes in the school. He might be the best center fielder in the area, so that's an option. Don't know where we're going to go, but it's an option," Wigley said. "It's good to know we've got guys that can play more than one spot."
Even with the loss, it is still possible for the Rebels to end up in Sunday's championship game. Currently, Central is 3-0 with one game left and Wayne County is 2-0 with a pair of games to play today — one game will be between the two.
"This being our last tournament and a chance to play for the championship in a tournament with this many strong teams in it, I'm proud of them. Maybe we'll get a shot. I think it will come down to runs allowed. I think we've given up 16 in four games, which is not terrible. We'll see what happens," Wigley said.