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Hornet baseball rallies to top Athens
The Wellsboro Varsity Baseball team rallied from a 6-3 deficit in the bottom of the sixth to hand Athens a 7-6 loss during Senior Night on Wednesday, May 9.
The win also locked up the NTL Large School Division championship for the Hornets, their first league championship since 2012.
“A good win. A hard fought win tonight,” head coach Philip Prough said following his 85th career win. “Our guys showed resilience in coming back late. It wasn’t our best game but the guys kept battling and competing. And when you do that, good things can happen.”
Athens jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first as Kaden Rude stole home after leading off with a base hit. As the Hornets tried a pick-off at second base, Rude jumped on the chance to steal to put the Wildcats up 1-0. Wellsboro answered back in the bottom half of the inning as senior Johnny Rowland scored on an RBI single by senior Caleb Tennis.
The Wildcats answered back in the top of the second with two runs, to take a 3-1 lead, from an RBI double by Nick Watkins. Again the Hornets answered in the bottom half of the inning, this time, however, they only managed one run.
Senior Parker Mann walked to get on base then senior Dalton Prough drilled a double that landed 20-feet from the outfield fence to score Mann to cut it to 3-2.
Both teams added a run each in the third. Athens’ Nate Kennedy doubled and scored on an RBI double by Joe Parshall to increase their lead to 4-2, then sophomore Carson Davis scored on an RBI single by junior Taynton Repard after reaching on an error to cut it to 4-3. The Wildcats later added two more runs, one each in the fourth and the sixth, to increase their lead to 6-3.
After the sixth the Wildcats went to the bullpen after Keegan Rude hit the pitch count limit. That’s when the Hornets went to work.
Mann led off the inning with a base hit then stole second to move into scoring position. A walk by Prough and a single by Rowland loaded the bases for junior Cam Tennis. Tennis singles over short stop to score both Mann and Prough to cut it to 6-5. After Davis was called out at the next at bat by runner interference, Caleb Tennis came through in the clutch. Before that, Rowland took advantage of a pass ball and slid across home plate to tie it at 6-all. Tennis then singled to score Tennis for the game’s winning run.
Athens had a shot at redemption in the top of the seventh but Wellsboro’s defense came up huge. The Wildcats’ Ethan Witherow led off with a base hit then Parshall reached on error to put two men on. Wellsboro then went to the bullpen as Prough came on to relieve Rowland. Prough got Keegan Rude to strike out then turned a double play as he caught a bunt attempt by Lane then threw over to first to get Parshall out and end the ball game.
Caleb Tennis led Wellsboro at the plate, going 3-for-4 with 2 RBI’s. Cam Tennis and Rowland were both 2-for-4, and Davis, Repard, Prough (double), and Mann all had the remaining hits. Rowland scored the win on the mound in six innings of work, giving up 12 hits and striking out 4 on 82 pitches. Prough scored the save with a six-pitch 7th inning.
Rowland’s win was the 6th of the season (6-0) and the 18th of his career, giving him sole possession of 2nd place all-time for wins in a career.
“We were able to get into their bullpen by getting deep counts early in the game,” continued Prough. “That was really the story of tonight’s win. Securing the NTL championship was one of the team goals this year. It was good to do that while having Johnny on the mound to secure his place in Wellsboro baseball history by becoming the 2nd all-time winningest pitcher. Having both happen on the same night is a great memory for the team and him.”
Wellsboro (13-2, 12-1 NTL Large School Division) hosts Towanda on Friday, May 11.