Two baseball programs separated by only 20 miles ventured outside county lines to decide a Class A sectional Monday.
Edinburgh’s 11-1 victory against Greenwood Christian Academy in six innings in the championship game at Morristown ended the Cougars’ string of consecutive regional berths at three.
The Lancers (12-11), who rode the four-hit pitching of junior Zach Murphy to the program’s fourth sectional title and first since 2011, are the ones moving on.
Coach Jason Burton’s team returns to Morristown on Saturday to play the 1 p.m. second regional semifinal. The opponent will be champion of the Sheridan Sectional, which had Lutheran playing University in the title game.
Should the Lancers prevail, they would take part in the championship game at 7 p.m.
“I feel I pitched great for not pitching for two weeks because of a fractured knuckle. I was a little nervous. A little rusty,” said Murphy, who wore a protective cover on part of his left (non-pitching) hand, an injury sustained during a regular-season game against Waldron.
“Coming back today felt great, and winning sectional with the team made it even more amazing.”
Edinburgh, which produced one hit in its first 10 at-bats, broke open a scoreless game with four runs in the top of the fourth inning.
Gabe Wilson’s leadoff single to right field got things started. The junior moved to second base on Greenwood Christian starter Nolan Check’s wild pitch and came home on Murphy’s single to right. In all, the Cougars would commit three of their five errors in this inning.
The Lancers tacked on two more runs in the fifth and another five in the sixth to account for the 10-run spread after Greenwood Christian scored a run in its half of the fifth inning.
Murphy struck out six and walked two. Check, who has been Greenwood Christian’s ace the entire season, struggled with his control but still fanned 10 Lancers batters before being relieved late by sophomore Griffin Huizinga.
Collecting hits for the Cougars in a losing effort were Check along with sophomores Payton Modlin, Joey Jessup and Cooper Britt.
The Lancers picked up nine hits, with senior designated hitter Keegan Sida and senior center fielder Tristen Browning each contributing two singles. Sophomore Zack Giles delivered a bloop single to left to bring in two runs in the fifth inning for Edinburgh.
“It’s everything we could have hoped for. These kids have worked their butts off since we got in the weightroom in the late fall,” Lancers coach Jason Burton said. “They’ve worked for it.
“Every single day they talked about this is where we wanted to be. They deserve every bit of the credit and beat a very, very good Greenwood Christian team today.”