By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
Daniel Otwell was a combined 1-for-7 after the first two Class 3A state playoff games between Glencoe and White Plains last Saturday (Apr. 20).
Thanks in large part to Otwell’s efforts, chances are that the White Plains pitching staff will have nightmares of the Yellow Jacket shortstop after Monday’s rubber game.
After gaining a split with the Wildcats on Saturday, Glencoe head coach Charlie Robertson said that Otwell needed to break out of his slump.
Otwell did just that on Monday, going 3-for-3 with two home runs, a single and an intentional walk as the Yellow Jackets (16-5) posted an 8-0 victory to advance to the second round at Piedmont on Friday (Apr. 26).
“I knew I was due,” Otwell said. “I just want to thank my teammates. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have done anything. It’s been awhile since we made it past the first round, and it’s exciting for all of us.”
Before the game, Robertson had a feeling his senior shortstop was due for a breakout game.
“He hit the ball really well in batting practice,” Robertson said. “He’s a great player. He’s a leader.”
Dalton Roberts got the Yellow Jackets going in the right direction by leading off the game with a double.
With one out, Otwell drove the ball over the rightfield fence to give Glencoe all the runs it would need.
Will Parker followed Otwell’s dinger with a home run to leftfield to extend the lead to 3-0.
The Yellow Jackets extended their lead in the third inning.
Houston Word led off with a walk and Otwell singled. That brought in Zach Cunningham to relieve White Plains relief pitcher Miles Masters. Tyler Hardcastle had started for White Plains but only recorded just one out.
After a strikeout, Dalton Reid reached on an error to score Word and make it 4-0. Joseph Fails then reached on an error that scored Otwell for a 5-0 advantage. A double steal brought home Reid for a 6-0 lead.
Roberts reached base on an error in the fourth inning, and two batters later Otwell hit a towering shot over the 390-foot sign in centerfield to make it 8-0.
“I knew it was coming sooner or later, and it finally got here,” Otwell said of his output at the plate.
The closest White Plains (19-12) came to scoring was in the bottom of the fourth inning. Cunningham led off with a single for the first White Plains hit of the game, then reached second on a wild pitch.
After Roberts struck out Ryan Kirby, Masters singled to put two runners on base.
But Hardcastle popped out to shortstop, and a flyout by Peyton Whitten ended the Wildcat threat.
Including the three home runs, Glencoe pounded out eight hits in the game. Winning pitcher Dalton Roberts scattered six hits in going the distance on the mound.
The Yellow Jackets appeared to be in a struggle most of the afternoon on Saturday (Apr. 20).
Glencoe had to battle back from a 2-0 deficit in game one for a 9-3 win, then trailed game 2 from the first inning on before losing by a score of 7-2.
In the opener, White Plains took a 1-0 lead off of Glencoe starter Reid in the top of the first inning on hits by Jonathan Bradshaw and Ryan Kirby.
The Wildcats added another run in the third on singles by Dillon Greenwood and Zach Cunningham and an RBI sacrifice fly by Miles Masters.
The hosts answered in the bottom of the third.
Garrett Pentecost singled and was bunted to second by Hunter Gibbs. Roberts walked, and Word reached on an error to load the bases.
Otwell grounded out to the mound to drive in a run. Parker walked to again load the bases, and Reid tripled in three runs to provide the Yellow Jackets with a 4-2 lead.
Hardcastle drove in Ryan Kirby in the top of the sixth to cut the Glencoe lead to 4-3, but Glencoe wasted little time in answering.
The Jackets added five runs on four hits to close out the game. Roberts, Word and Reid all had singles and Will Parker added a two-RBI double.
Reid collected two hits and four RBI while going all seven innings on the mound. He gave up 10 hits but allowed just three runs while striking out three.
“We played good in the first game,” Robertson said. “We got good pitching. Good pitching stops good hitting.”
Misfortune found the Jackets in game 2 in the form of an injury to starting leftfielder Ryan George.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning, George ran into the fence chasing a fly ball. His injury prevented him from making a play, allowing White Plains’ Tyler Hardcastle to come all the way around for an inside-the-park home run and a 4-0 Wildcat lead.
Not helping the Glencoe cause was the pitching performance of Zach Cunningham, who in six innings struck out 10 while giving up only two hits and one run.
“We were facing a good pitcher out there,” said Robertson. “We hit the ball pretty fair; we just hit it right at them.”
The Wildcats picked up a run in the bottom of the second by way of an RBI single by Dillon Greenwood.
Masters and Whitten came through with respective RBI singles in the bottom of the third that put White Plains ahead 7-0.
Jeff Ford came in to relieve Joseph Fails in the bottom of the fourth.
“Joseph was not hitting his spots,” Robertson said. “When you’re not hitting your spots against a good ball team, things are going to go bad for you.”
Parker scored on a passed ball in the top of the sixth, the only run allowed by Cunningham.
Miles Masters relieved Cunningham in the seventh, giving up a run when Gibbs scored while White Plains trapped Roberts in a rundown between first and second with one out. Roberts was able to get back to first without getting tagged, but Masters struck out Otwell and induced a groundout from Parker to end the game.
Word, Roberts and Pace Ozmint each had a base hit for the Yellow Jackets.