South Central’s Alex Goforth (4) gets a fist bump after scoring in the Rebels win over Southwestern at Shawe Post 9 Field. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
South Central’s Alex Goforth (4) gets a fist bump after scoring in the Rebels win over Southwestern at Shawe Post 9 Field. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
South Central outlasted a young and hungry Southwestern baseball team then easily cruised past Shawe in the semifinals of the Madison Courier Invitational Tournament at Shawe's Post 9 Field on Friday.

South Central (9-4), ranked seventh in Class A, meets Madison this afternoon in the title game while Southwestern meets Austin in the consolation bracket this morning. Both games will be played at Madison.

The Rebels got the best of Southwestern 12-8 in the tournament's opening round game, nearly losing two big leads in the process.

Pitching dominated the first two innings as Southwestern's Logan Sprong and South Central's Nate Shaffer dueled early, the only hiccup being a run scored by South's Alex Goforth on an infield error to make it 1-0 heading into the second inning.

After a scoreless second, South Central struck hard in the bottom of third as Sprong began showing signs of fatigue.

Cory Ray led off with a double and the bases were soon loaded after walks issued to Nick Veith and Goforth. A Parker Gabhart sacrifice fly scored Ray on the next at-bat and Jack Turner followed with a two-run single giving South Central a 4-0 advantage.

Not to be outdone, Southwestern bounced back with its first signs of true offense in the top of the fourth.

Adam Jackson singled and Tristan Embs reached on a fielder's choice and both eventually came around on a monster ground-rule double by Matt Schwartz and a Robby Stoner groundball.

Southwestern cut the deficit to 4-3 when Schwartz scored on a Sprong single.

Four straight baserunners in the bottom of the fourth for South Central resulted in Sprong's exit off the mound as the Rebels brought in Dalton Hardy.

South went on to total five runs on four hits in the inning including RBIs by Goforth, Gabhart and Turner and extended the lead to 9-3 but Southwestern head coach Derik Hutton was optimistic when speaking of his team's early inning pitching.

"I thought Logan Sprong for about three innings was fantastic ... it just came down to him getting tired towards the end," Hutton said. "He did a really good job of moving the ball around and finding the strike zone. Dalton Hardy hasn't really thrown much before and I thought he did a nice job as well. He's continuing to gain experience."

Southwestern (2-8) again called upon its offense to get back in the game to start the top of the fifth as the Rebels whittled down the margin to 9-7 after four runs on three hits.

Jackson and Tristan Embs provided one-out singles and a Schwartz walk loaded the bases before Wheatley came through with an RBI single on the next at-bat. Stoner was hit by a pitch, which scored Embs, and Sprong's line drive that was mishandled in left field cleared the bases.

A dormant end to the fifth and start of the sixth gave way to South Central pulling away for the win in the bottom of the sixth.

After back-to-back walks Southwestern replaced Hardy with Michael Baker-Conover but the damage was far from over as an error and wild pitch scored two runs and Joe Logsdon's single scored Shaffer giving South Central a 12-7 lead.

Tryston Wheatley scored on a Sprong single with one-out in the top of the seventh but Southwestern was unable to score again as South Central advanced with the 12-8 win.

"After dropping a tough one to Milan earlier in the week I was overall pretty pleased with our performance," Hutton said. "We were pretty equal to a really good South Central team in every category but the score. We put the ball in play and did some things better. Hopefully this is a game we can build off of."

Southwestern had eight hits in the game led by Jackson's 3-for-4 performance with two runs scored. Sprong had two singles and two RBIs.

South Central had 10 hits in the game. Turner had three hits including three RBIs, two stolen bases and a run scored. Ray had two hits, two runs and two stolen bases.

Sprong took the loss for Southwestern. The starter threw three complete innings and to four batters in the fourth inning while allowing eight runs - five earned - on six hits. He also walked three and struck out four.

Shaffer pitched all seven innings for South Central and got the win. He gave up eight runs - five earned - on eight hits while walking two and striking out 10.

South Central one-hit Shawe in the nightcap 22-0 to reach the championship round.

The Hilltoppers (0-9) struggled on both sides of the field but saw its biggest woes occur in the field. While Shawe lacked consistency on the mound, the hosts also were the victim of its own mistakes, committing six errors.

South Central opened the game with seven runs in the top of the first followed by three in the second inning to grab an early 10-0 lead.

The Rebels then equaled their two-inning total in the third and went up 20-0 after sending 14 batters to the plate and racking up six hits. South Central scored two more in the fourth before the game ended by 10-run rule in the fifth inning.

Gabhart, South Central's starter and winning pitcher in game two, took a perfect game into the bottom of the fourth but Whit Grote's double broke it up with two outs in the inning.

Grote's shot was Shawe's only hit of the game. The Hilltoppers managed just two baserunners the entire way.

While much of their damage was done on errors, South Central still came away with 10 hits in the game. Turner and Gabhart each had two hits and combined for five runs and four RBIs.

Turner had two runs and one knocked in while Gabhart scored three times and drove in three.

Shawe hosts Carroll County in the consolation bracket this morning.