Article:    
Sheridan grinds out tourney-opening win
5/14/2019 2:29 PM

Generals' bats quiet, but Trowbridge comes up big

THORNVILLE - It was closer than it preferred, but top-seeded Sheridan moved on in the Division II sectional tournament.

The Generals' offense never got tracked in its tournament opener against Washington Court House, but they made the most of their few opportunities in a 2-1 win on their home field.

Nate Johnson pitched six strong innings and Logan Farmer drove in both runs for Sheridan (21-5), which will host either Washington Court House Miami Trace, the fourth seed, or fifth-seeded Greenfield McClain at 5 p.m. on Thursday. The winner advances to the district at Ohio University.

The Blue Lions, the eighth seed, finished 6-15.

"They were a lower seed and they fought us," Johnson said. "It just goes to show that we need to keep fighting because we're going to face teams that are a lot better than them."

Sheridan coach Doug Fisher saw his team win despite getting only five hits off control specialist Jared Hall, who effectively kept many of the Generals off-balance.

"I didn't want a 2-1 ballgame or something that close to start things out, but we've played close games all year," Fisher said. "We've been winning with pitching and defense, and when you get to the tournament you know that everyone is going to be playing their best."

On a unseasonably cool, windy day, the right-hander Johnson needed some escape acts to avoid trouble. He stranded two runners in the first inning by getting a strikeout looking. He got another strikeout to end the second to leave a runner on second -- after the Blue Lions scored on a groundout to take the lead.

Washington Court House's inability to cash in was a popular theme.

The Generals tied the game in the third when Reece Trowbridge ripped a one-out single and scored one batter later when Farmer, a lefty, slugged a double to the gap in left field. It wasn't the last time the Blue Lions would hear from them.

The Blue Lions left two runners on in the fourth and another in the fifth before Sheridan scratched out the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth, a rally sparked by Trowbridge, its senior shortstop.

After an out to start the bottom of the fifth, Trowbridge just missed a home run with a hard shot over the head of the left fielder. He still managed a triple, which led to the go-ahead run when Farmer hit a ground ball near the second base bag. With the infield back, the second baseman could only make a play at first.

"It was a fastball middle-in," Trowbridge said. "I was able to get my hands inside and put a good swing on it. ... I was trying to sit back since he was a slower pitcher and just take what he gives me."

Johnson yielded a lead-off walk in the sixth, but induced a lineout to right field and struck out consecutive batters to end the inning. His day was over, due to a high pitch count, and reliever Drew Campbell took over in the seventh.

He, too, yielded a lead-off walk, but he recorded back-to-back strikeouts, then got a lineout to end it.

"For a 2-1 game there was a lot of opportunities," Fisher said.

That Johnson was able to gut out a win on a day when he wasn't as sharp as usual brought a smile to the face of his shortstop. He finished with six strikeouts and allowed 10 runners to reach, but conceded only four hits -- all singles.

"He battled out there," Trowbridge said. "He grinded through the game. He didn't have his best stuff today, but he got it done, especially when they had runners on base."

Trowbridge said the team has been in so many close games that their confidence never wavers.

"We're pretty confident in our defense," Trowbridge said. "As long as our pitchers throw strikes, we're going to win most games."

Fisher said Johnson didn't want to come out of the game, which was understandable.

"He's done that a few times this year," Fisher said of Johnson fighting his control. "He's a gamer. He wants to finish. He recovers quick from throwing a lot of pitches and he was up in the 100s in the seventh. We just thought with it being a 2-1 game and the top of the order coming up, I just liked Drew to start the inning instead of coming in in the middle."

Trowbridge's triple and two singles accounted for all but two of the team's hits.

sblackbu@gannett.com

740-450-6723

Twitter: @SamBlackburnTR 

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