Sullivan South's shortstop broke out of his slump in style by smacking a two-out, three-run triple in the fifth inning to help the Rebels pick up a key 7-3 Big 9 Conference win at Daniel Boone on Saturday.
The triple broke open a tie game and spelled the beginning of the end of a strong effort by Josh Aldridge, Boone's starting pitcher. After giving up a run in the top of the first inning, Aldridge settled in and retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced, striking out nine.
South manager Anthony Richardson said the key to getting to Aldridge was as simple as getting some guys on base.
"We got him into the stretch and he struggled a little bit," Richardson said. "We just had a big break that one inning."
Boone's southpaw allowed back-to- back singles to Ben Begley and Taylor Sewell, and Tyler Ball drew a walk to load the bases.
Johnson said Aldridge had done a good job to that point of keeping him off balance with his excellent breaking ball, but Johnson finally got the count in his favor and got a pitch to hit.
"When he got to 2-0, he threw a fastball," Johnson said. "I was trying to hit it to right field."
He laced the ball over the first baseman's head, and it took a wicked kick to the right once it hit the ground and scooted past the charging right fielder and into the corner.
When the dust cleared, Johnson was standing on third and South (14-11, 7-6) had all the insurance it needed.
Johnson scored moments later on a wild pitch, giving South a commanding 5-1 advantage. He finished the day with a double, a triple and four RBIs after struggling at the plate for most of the season.
Boone coach Rob Hoover said his team is capable of putting together some big innings, but the players allowed the problems in the top of the fifth to weigh them down. Even after getting a run across the plate in the bottom of that inning, Hoover said his team continued to lack energy.
"The only thing that disappointed me is that we were down 5-2 and it was like the air was let out of us," he said.
Sewell came up with a two-run single in the top of the sixth that put away Boone.
Josh Bedingfield (1-4) went 6 2-3 innings to pick up the win for South, scattering three runs on eight hits.
His sidearm style of pitching kept the Trailblazers' potent offense off balance all afternoon. He didn't allow an extra-base hit all day, and only one of the runs he surrendered was earned.
Richardson said he's put Bedingfield up against the top teams in the league all season, making his record a bit deceiving.
"That's his first win of the year," Richardson said. "He needed that and he really wanted it."
After puzzling South's lineup for the better part of four innings, Aldridge (4-2) hit a wall in the fifth. He eventually left the game with two on and nobody out in the top of the sixth, surrendering seven runs on five hits.
Aldridge struck out nine batters, combining with two other pitchers to fan 13.
Ball had a double and scored a pair of runs while Sewell finished with two RBIs and scored once for South. Begley also added a pair of hits for the Rebels.
Aldridge singled twice and scored once for Boone (14-8, 7-6) while Nick Jones and Ben Underwood also singled and scored.