Spencer Gayheart’s stunning pair of home runs in the same inning helped give flight to Perry Meridian’s march into the Marion County baseball tourney championship game.
Gayheart led off the fourth inning Saturday against host Roncalli in a semifinal tourney game when he slammed a waist-high fast ball for a solo home run for a 1-1 tie against the Royals.
And then in his second trip to the plate in the same stanza, the senior infielder hit a pitch that was up and inside for his bases-loaded home run over the left-centerfield fence.
“The first one started the hit parade,” Gayheart said. “I made a big stomp on home plate (second home run), and there was a lot of there was a lot of screaming and yelling. I was going to wait for a fast ball on the next pitch; he threw it, so I hit it.”
Amazingly, Gayheart had never hit a varsity home run for the Falcons until Saturday afternoon when he slammed two in the 11-run fourth inning against Roncalli.
The two homers propelled the Falcons (14-7) to the county title game against Speedway (11-5) at Victory Field, the home of the Indianapolis Indians, Tuesday (results too late for deadline).
Looking at the Falcons steady success, Gayheart said, “The culture here is incredible; everyone has each other’s back. There’s not one player who’s trying to do too much. We are hitting and we don’t make many errors in the field.”
Aiden Kerr drove in two runs in the fourth and Brock Allison and Jake Phillips each had two hits. Phillips and Lane Allison shared the mound duties.
The 10-run win was a big relief for the Falcons after back-to-back 3-2 wins against North Central Friday and Franklin Central Saturday at Holder Field. PM tied the game against the Panthers 2-2 in the fifth and scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
All runs in the PM-FC game were scored in the first three innings. The Flashes stranded seven runners. Allison, Gayheart, and Kolton Wright scored for the Falcons. Allison also has seven saves as a closing pitcher.
This stands as the fourth time the Falcons have reached the title game under coach Jake Banwart. They have had their share of close games this season with 14 of 21 games decided by three runs or less.
Banwart contends the Falcons, riding an eight-game winning streak, are right where they should be at this time of the season.
“This group believes in each other; they’re never too high or too low,” Banwart said. “We’re finding ourselves on the right side of most of our close games. They’re showing signs of what they’re capable of and they’re consistent.”
“Our strength is in our hitting, big hits or bunts,” Banwart said. “But we’re doing well in every department.”
After falling to PM, 11-1, Roncalli is 16-5 and had advanced through the tourney by defeating Warren Central 12-1 and Brebeuf Jesuit 12-10.
Beech Grove (7-8) slipped past Lutheran 7-3 Friday but lost to Park Tudor 14-2. The Saints are 11-7.
Decatur Central (9-8-1) fell in the opening round against Lawrence North 4-2.