Hits are overrated.
No. 9 hitter Tanner Winchester rounded the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning without the aid of a base hit Thursday, leading Unatego to a 5-4 victory over Sidney in the Midstate Athletic Conference 1-4 Tournament baseball championship game at Afton.
“That’s two in a row,” Spartans coach Frank Microni said of his program’s second straight MAC title, which they secured shortly after Winchester reached on a two-base throwing error to lead off the last of the seventh.
Sidney’s second error chased freshman starter Zak Green, who struck out 10, walked four and hit a batter in six innings. After Nate McDonald relieved Green, Winchester moved to third on a passed ball during Kellen Komenda’s at-bat. Komenda drew a walk and stole second, setting up an intentional walk to Jon Wingate that loaded the bases.
Winchester scored the winner during the next at-bat, beating a wide throw to the plate after Phil Youngs grounded to the third-base side.
“It was a slow grounder,” Microni said. “Tanner beat the throw home, but it was a close play at the plate.”
Komenda opened the scoring in the first inning for the regular-season champion Spartans (17-3). He singled to lead off and scored on a triple by Youngs for the early lead.
Noah McKee’s two-run single in the fifth with two out put Sidney in control, but the lead didn’t last long as Unatego starter Quinn Barnhart hit a three-run homer in the bottom frame.
“Barnhart hit it out at Afton in right-center field,” Microni said. “It was pretty far out there.”
Sidney rallied to tie it at 4 in the sixth as Billy Kozak scored on a passed ball and Damian Zimmer followed with an RBI single. The Warriors seemed to be on the verge of a big inning as Zimmer’s single also resulted in two baserunners with one out.