Nashville seniors Austin Anderson and Ryan Brink combined to hold Gibault to one hit and Cody Bauza hit a two-run home run as the Hornets won 3-2 win Monday in the title game of the IHSA Class 2A Red Bud baseball regional.
The Hornets (28-6) took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning when, with one out, Hayden Heggemeier singled off Gibault ace Collin Kessler. Bauza then hit the next pitch — a fastball — over the right field fence. Nashville added an unearned run in the fifth inning and used the pitching of Anderson and Brink to hold off a late Hawks rally to win the regional title.
“He (Bauza) has had a good year and he came up with the big hit for us tonight,” Hornets coach Chad Malawy said “The thing about both those at bats were that both the single by Hayden (Heggemeier) and the home run,were on first pitch fastballs. We tell our hitters all the time to be ready for the first pitch.”
The win moves Nashville into the Benton Sectional at 4 p.m. Wednesday where it will take on Carmi (White County) in the first of two semifinals at Benton Community Park. Carmi (White County) defeated Fairfield 7-3 in the title game of the Fairfield Regional on Saturday.
Anderson retired the first 10 hitters before Tyler Brinkmann reached on an error with one out in the fourth inning. Alex Stern then broke up Anderson’s no-hit bid with a one out double in the fifth.
Anderson struck out the next two hitters to end the inning.
“I had all my pitches working well tonight,” Anderson said with a smile. “”It kind of got away from me a little in the sixth. But I have confidence in this team and my defense. I knew we would be fine.”
Gibault (20-15) scored two runs in the sixth inning without a hit. With one out and a runner on first base, Anderson walked Brinkmann and hit Mark Branz with a pitch to load the bases.
After striking out Blake Metzger for the second out, Anderson walked Austin Sweeney to force in a run then hit his second batter of the inning — Stern — to force in the second run and make the score 3-2.
Anderson then then got Josh Papenberg to fly out to center field to end the threat.
“Austin pitched very well. In the sixth, I don’t know if he got tired or what it was. His pitch count was getting up there,” Malawy said. “I asked him a couple of times and he kept saying ‘coach, I’m fine.’ It was great that we had both our No. 1 and our No. 1A pitchers ready to go tonight. Both he and Ryan (Brink) did a great job.”
Brink replaced Anderson in the seventh inning and retired the Hawks in order, striking out a pair, to end the game.
“It was a good year. We’ve now had 20 wins or more in four of the last six years,” Gibault coach Andy Skaer said. “Collin (Kessler) pitched a good game. He just made one mistake and good hitters make you pay when you do that. We had a chance in the sixth inning. We just didn’t get the big hit.”