MONTICELLO — Sending Kirk Baugh to pinch hit late in the game against Greenwood in the Class 5A state tournament on Friday may have been the grandest decision of White Hall coach Skip Carr’s career.
After Nathan Lee drew a bases loaded walk with two outs to put White Hall behind 2-1 in the top of the sixth inning, Carr sent Baugh, a freshman with limited at bats this season, to pinch hit for Mike Acosta, the No. 9 hitter.
Baugh worked Greenwood pitcher Chris Hunt to a full count before fouling off a fastball straight back. Hunt then gave Baugh another fastball in same spot, and the freshman sent the pitch over the fence in straightaway centerfield for a grand slam.
White Hall added another run in the seventh inning and Tyler Zuber threw 101 pitches in a complete-game, 6-2 win over Greenwood.
“If I have made a better call, I have forgotten about it,” Carr said with a smile. “I wouldn’t have put (Kirk) in if I didn’t think he could do it. We have confidence in him and we knew he was a real good hitter.”
Baugh did not even know if he was going to play in the game, but was ready if called upon.
“I was just really hoping to get up to bad, and when I did I was happy,” he said. “I didn’t think anything else except hit a line drive, I blocked everything else out and watched the ball.
“He threw all fastballs and I figured he would throw another one and it was in the same spot of the last pitch.”
Hunt had worked out of jams with runners in scoring position in the three innings before. He had thrown 98 pitches after walking Lee, and Greenwood coach Randy Gardner figured Hunt would make it through the inning.
“He has thrown that many pitches all year, and it was one bad pitch in that spot,” he said. “He probably didn’t throw a bad pitch other than that. I thought he had the guy before (Baugh) struck out and that’s why I left him in.”
White Hall scored another run in the seventh inning when Zuber singled to right field to score Hunter Hale for an insurance run.
Zuber gave up a run in the third inning on a sacrifice fly, and then a run in the fifth inning on an RBI single. He left six batters on, including two in the fifth and two in the sixth inning.
With the bases loaded with one out in the fifth, he fielded a comebacker to the mound to start the 1-2-3 double play to get out of the jam.
When Zuber ran into trouble in the sixth inning with a walk with two outs, Carr visited the mound with Tyler Carr warming up in the bullpen.
“I thought I was about to get pulled and was going to tell him no,” Zuber said.
But Skip Carr just wanted to talk to his pitcher. Zuber got a ground out to end the sixth and needed just six pitches in the seventh inning to end the game.
“I was absolutely going to leave him in there,” Carr said. “I was just giving him a little bit of a break.”
Zuber finished with five strikeouts and walked three batters.
“I thought I had real good control and tried to hit my spots with my fastball,” he said. “My curveball was a bit off in the beginning of the game, but I gained more control of it in the middle.”
White Hall plays at noon today in Monticello against Nettleton in the semifinals.