Kyle Smith comes through to help SF advance to 5-A final
The hitting style of Southern Fulton's Kyle Smith was best described as "streaky" by coach Dustin Fischer.
Thankfully for the Indians, Smith's streak kicked up again Friday afternoon in the semifinals of the District 5 Class A tournament against Shanksville, producing the game's only runs for the Indians.
On top of that, Southern Fulton pitcher Trent Rider threw a one-hitter for the Indians in a 2-0 victory over the Vikings to advance to the District 5 Championship and try to defend their district title.
Southern Fulton (17-4) will play Meyersdale (19-4) on Wednesday, site and time to be determined.
After three scoreless innings, and an obvious pitchers' duel emerging, Smith sent a deep ball to left field for a double with two outs on the board and a runner at first to bring in the only run the Indians needed. At his next at bat, Smith made contact again, sending the ball to the same spot on the field for a single to bring in an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth.
"We tried to play a little small ball and get some runners on there to score some runs," Smith said. "I was just playing like I normally do, trying to get hits."
"I thought we would hit a little better, but Kyle Smith broke out of his major slump, so I'll take two RBIs from him," Fischer said.
Smith was 2-for-3 for his first multiple-hit game of the year, accounting for half of Southern Fulton's offense.
"He was the only one who came prepared to hit," Rider said. "We've been struggling hitting all season, so I'm glad the guy who has been struggling has finally gotten hot and had the only RBIs of the game."
Shanksville starter Ryan Caton walked four batters in the first two innings, but Southern Fulton couldn't capitalize, flying out to end both innings.
"We pride ourselves on throwing strikes and playing good defense," Shanksville coach Lucas Mihelcic said, "but when you don't throw strikes, obviously we are in more pressure situations, but we have responded all year."
While Smith went to work at the plate, Rider ensured that Shanksville would not pose an offensive threat by striking out 12 Viking batters. He is now just two strikeouts away from 300 career Ks.
"I think we knew what we were going to get into with (Rider); we knew he was a talented pitcher," Mihelcic said.
Through three full innings, Rider had not given up a hit, but with two outs on the board in the top of the fourth, Rider waved off a pitch called by a Southern Fulton coach, a mistake he has admittedly done before. On the next pitch, Joe Hudak hit a line drive to left-center, crushing Rider's no-hit bid. But catcher Tanner Elbin and Cooper Grove took care of the runner, catching him on a steal attempt for the final out of the inning.
"If I wouldn't have shook the coach off I could have a no-hitter; that was my mistake," Rider said. "But no-hitters are just a bragging right."
"He's been waiting for warm weather and he's finally got it," Fischer said. "They just couldn't hit his fastball."