By Mike Buhler
Monday’s Class 1A baseball super-sectional between the Goreville Blackcats and the South Central Cougars had almost everything the Blackcats could have wanted — except a win.
The Blackcats rallied from a nine-run deficit to take the lead in the top of the seventh inning, but could not prevent South Central from forcing extra innings. The Cougars then scored the winning run on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth to take a 15-14 win and earn a trip to the state tournament.
South Central scored six runs in the bottom of the second inning, another in the third and two more in the fourth to take a 9-0 lead. However, the Blackcats did not give up, putting up four runs each in the fifth and sixth innings to get within a run.
The Cougars scored three times in the bottom of the sixth inning to push their lead to 12-8, but Goreville (12-9-1) answered again, scoring six runs in the top of the seventh to take a 14-12 lead — its first of the game.
It did not last long. South Central scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings. After a scoreless eighth inning, the Knights pulled off the walkoff finish in the bottom of the ninth.
A.J. Johnson drove in seven runs on three hits as he finished a home run shy of hitting for the cycle, while Casey Lenon and Dylan Compton each added three hits. Drake Moss took the loss in relief on the hill.
Goreville reached the super-sectional by downing Steeleville 8-3 in the sectional championship last Friday.
Goreville scored five two-out runs in the top of the fifth inning to snap a 2-2 tie and ultimately take the sectional crown.
Lenon earned the win on the mound.