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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Homestead's Carter Mathison pitches to Snider's Andrew Dane during a doubleheader at Homestead on Saturday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Homestead's Nik Martin prepares to catch the ball as Snider's Simon Dellinger races towards first during the first game of a double header at Homestead on Saturday.

Sunday, May 05, 2019 1:00 am

Homestead 7-14 Snider 5-12

Spartans shake off nerves to sweep Panthers

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

Homestead coach Nick Byall said his team looked rattled for the first time all season late in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader against Snider.

But while the Spartans (14-3) gave up five hits and made two errors as the Panthers (5-7) put up eight runs in the sixth inning, they also fought back and posted a big inning of their own to win 14-12. 

The drama-filled second game came after Homestead claimed the first game 7-5.

“It was a long day, and you get deep in pitching, and it can go that way,” Homestead coach Nick Byall said of the offensive slugfest. “Our defense, at times, didn't help us out, either. ... Sometimes it goes that way. You hope it doesn't, but you never know with game two of a doubleheader.”

As they did in the first game, the Panthers scored one run in the first inning of game two, and Homestead quickly responded by scoring two runs as Snider starting pitcher Jeffrey Tolbert issued a walk, a Panthers infielder dropped a pop fly and Eli MacDonald and Graham Kollen hit consecutive singles. The Spartans' lead grew to 5-1 in the second inning as Carter Mathison hit a three-run home run to right. 

“It was just where I wanted it, and I hit it,” Mathison said of the second-inning blast off of Tolbert.

Grant Simmons, who started the second game for the Spartans, got two outs in the fourth inning, but gave up three more runs and loaded the bases before being replaced by sophomore right-hander Jayden Lepper, who got a strikeout to end the inning.

Homestead scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth to pull ahead 8-4, and they would need them later. Lepper faced 12 batters during the fifth, giving up three consecutive singles to start the inning. The first seven batters of the inning each reached base and Reese Kuhns and Jeffrey Tolbert each hit doubles. But as Homestead was playing its third game in less than 24 hours, Lepper and Homestead did not have a bullpen full of rested pitchers to relieve him.

“Some of the pitchers got hit at times – some of it was, too, that they didn't get a whole lot of help from that defense, and had some tough-luck hits, too, dribblers that are tough to make a play on,” Byall said. “We weren't as sharp as we wanted to be on the mound, either, but we decided to stick with those guys and see how they compete. You learn things in these games where guys are in different spots and get different chances.”

Homestead got one run back in the bottom of the fifth and then got its own big inning, scoring five runs with Snider's Dominic Deisler on the mound to regain the lead, 14-12. 

“Just the compete-level that our guys showed – there was a time there when we looked a little rattled, and we tried to collect ourselves there and we did,” Byall said. “That's the biggest thing, that we didn't quit when we had that terrible inning.”

After a nightmare fifth inning, Lepper retired six of the final seven Snider batters (Deron Swanson reached on an error in the sixth) and earned the win.

Snider's Kuhns and Swanson and Homestead's Mathison each went 3-for-5 at the plate in the second game.

Mathison was the winning pitcher in the day's first game, giving up five runs, four of them earned, while striking out four in a complete-game effort.

“I found the strike zone a lot – started to lose it at the end, and then found it again,” Mathison said. “We got the win, so that's good.”

vjacobsen@jg.net