HUSTISFORD — Lebanon ace Matt Sabel finally got a chance to pitch with a decent lead against a top team in the Southern Division.
Sabel took a 5-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning of the regular season finale against Hustisford, but ran into trouble and was ejected with one out and the bases loaded.
The Astros took full advantage, tying the game with a four-run rally before adding single runs in the sixth and eighth to take a 7-5 victory on Sunday at Firemen’s Park.
The win locked up the Southern Division title for Hustisford (12-2), which takes the No. 1 seed into the opening round of the divisional playoffs this weekend.
The loss closed out a disastrous weekend for Lebanon (8-6), which needed a win or a Milton loss to clinch a playoff berth and got neither. The Whitetails squandered a 7-1 lead against Clyman in an 11-8 loss on Friday night at Legends Field. The loss to Husty, coupled with Milton’s 7-4 win at Clyman on Sunday, gave the Raptors the fourth and final playoff spot.
Second seeded Clyman (11-3) will host third seeded Neosho (9-5) on Saturday to open the double elimination playoffs, while Hustisford will host Milton (9-5).
Husty took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when leadoff hitter Aaron Roeseler singled up the middle and scored on an RBI double to right by Derek Merkes.
Sabel kept the Astros scoreless over the next three innings despite two errors, and the Whitetails rallied to take the lead on Zach Siebenlist’s two-run double to center in the fourth and Noah Zubke’s three-run homer to center in the fifth.
Hustisford sent all nine batters to the plate during a four-run rally in the home half of the fifth.
Aaron Roeseler led off with a line drive single to center, Tanner Galeazzi was hit by a pitch and Merkes hit an RBI double to left to make it 5-2. Sabel walked Griffin Lietzau to load the bases, struck out Casey Simon looking and walked Hunter Nehls to drive in a run.
The game changed dramatically at that point, as Sabel was thrown out by the home plate umpire without warning for arguing balls and strikes. Catcher Louis Demotropouplos was tossed seconds later.
When play resumed, the Astros rallied off reliever Cam Schuett to tie the game on Jami Kaul’s two-run single to right.
In the sixth, Galeazzi doubled and scored the go-ahead run on an RBI single to center by Merkes, who finished the day with three hits and three RBIs. Roeseler triple to center and later stole home in the eighth to close out the scoring.
Andrew Mueller started for Hustisford and threw five innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and no walks. Austin Massey threw four scoreless innings in relief and earned the decision. He allowed one hit while striking out three.
HUSTISFORD 7, LEBANON 5
Lebanon 000 230 000 — 5 9 2
Hustisford 100 041 01X — 7 9 3
Pitching (ip-h-er-bb-so) — L (Sabel 4.1-4-5-3-4, Schuett 3.2-5-2-0-2), H (Mueller 5-8-4-0-3, Massey 4-1-0-0-3)
Leading hitters — Zubke (L) 2x5, Doyle (L) 2x4, Roeseler (H) 3x5, Merkes (H) 3x4
2B — L (Siebenlist, Zubke), H (Galeazzi, Merkes 2)
3B — H (Roeseler)
HR — L (Zubke)