RACINE, Ohio — A one-year absence was enough.
The Southern baseball team is headed back to the Division IV district tournament for the second time in the last three seasons, as the second-seeded Tornadoes claimed the program’s 22nd sectional title with a 6-5 victory over seventh-seeded Coal Grove on Tuesday at Star Mill Park.
Southern (15-7) trailed 1-0 after the top of the first inning, but evened the score as Billy Harmon drove in Gage Shuler in the bottom half. Shuler scored on an error in the bottom of the third to give the Tornadoes their first lead, but the Hornets took a 4-2 advantage after a three-run fifth frame.
The Purple and Gold tied the game by the end of the sixth, as Shuler scored on an error in the fifth and then Will Wickline singled home Ryan Acree in the following frame.
Coal Grove reestablished its advantage with a run in the top of the seventh, but back-to-back RBI singles by Harmon and Jensen Anderson in the bottom half gave Southern the 6-5 victory.
Anderson was the winning pitcher in one inning of relief work for SHS, striking out one batter, walking two, and giving up an unearned run and a hit. Harmon threw the first six innings for the victors, striking out 14 batters, and surrendering four runs, one earned, on six hits and three walks.
Shuler led the Tornado offense, going 2-for-3 with four runs scored. Acree and Noah Diddle both singled once and scored once in the win, Harmon singled once and drove in two runs, while Wickline and Anderson each added a single and an RBI to the winning cause.
Ben Compliment and Tait Matney were both 2-for-4 with two runs scored to lead the guests at the plate.
Both teams committed a trio of errors, and CGHS left 10 runners on base, twice as many as SHS.
The Tornadoes will face third-seeded Green in the Division IV district semifinal at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.