Franklin baseball drops regional battle at No. 3 Mooresville

By J.D. Neiswanger

For the Daily Journal


Franklin’s regional title dreams melted in the hot sun on Monday afternoon in Mooresville due to a big inning from the host Pioneers that the Grizzly Cubs just couldn’t overcome, ending the season with a 12-3 loss.

It all started on Saturday with a 3:00 p.m. start that wound up being suspended, due to rain, in the first inning with two out. Mooresville senior catcher Hogan Denny, who was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Indiana on Monday, was at third base. At the restart on Monday, Denny scored right away on a delayed steal of home for the game’s first run.

Franklin (17-11) answered in the third inning. Junior shortstop Landen Basey walked, streaked to third on a single by freshman second baseman Carsten Bland and scored on a sacrifice fly by junior right fielder Owen Bullington to tie the game at 1-1.

In the fourth inning, sophomore center fielder Greyson Betts hit a towering shot over the left-field fence that landed near the football field. The homer left spectators in the completely full stands, and the press box, buzzing. It scored junior first baseman Braeden Burton after he had walked to start the inning.

“Honestly, I felt really good (being ahead early). We have played them twice this year; we knew them, they knew us and we had a plan and we executed it most of it,” Franklin coach Jeremy McKinney said.

Going into the bottom of the fourth Franklin sophomore pitcher Blake Smythe had not allowed a hit. Combining that with the Betts home run, the loud Franklin contingent that made the trip to Morgan County, and the way Franklin was hitting the ball (seven hits in four innings), the Grizzly Cubs had the momentum.

However, Mooresville (29-3) proved why it’s the third-ranked team in the state in the bottom of the fourth inning, when the Pioneer bats suddenly became as hot as the temperature. In all, 12 Pioneers got to the plate and seven of them scored on six hits, including a two-run single from Denny and a two-run double from senior shortstop Selby Barton.

“Just one bad inning,” McKinney said. “It was just mistakes; you just have to do the little things correctly. Against the good teams, those things will come back to bite you.”

Unfortunately for Franklin, the Pioneers kept biting. Mooresville added two runs in the fifth on four hits and another two in the sixth to account for the final margin.

Burton was 2 for 3 with a run scored for the Grizzly Cubs while also pitching in relief of Smythe and recording three strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings.

Franklin ends the season with a sectional title that didn’t seem probable at the beginning of the season, especially when one considers the young roster. Only two seniors started on Monday.

“I think a lot of people counted us out early. People thought we would be down, but this team is relentless. We love the underdog role.” McKinney said. “I am very proud of this team; they played their hearts out. We are returning just about everyone — it is really exciting.”