TIOGA – Everything seemed to work well for Tioga senior Zach Sanders Friday.
Taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning, he also helped his case from the plate as Tioga notched a 5-0 win in Game 1 of a doubleheader against Evangel.
Sanders went 2-for-2 and drove in a pair of runs while only surrendering a hit as the Indians gained a needed win against a quality opponent.
“It was really good,” Sanders said. “We have a lot of good coaches and they bust their butts off. As long as we do what they say, it’s going to work out.”
In what was a pitchers’ duel between Sanders and Eagles’ pitcher Shane Miears, the Indians opened up the game in the bottom of the sixth to provide enough insurance for the win.
With his team up 1-0, junior infielder Brady McGehee opened the inning with a leadoff double and started a stretch where he and the ensuing trio of batters — Tremaine Spears, Sanders and Zach Hornsby — scored and gave Sanders some breathing room.
As Sanders stood three outs from the no-hitter, Evangel catcher Ryne Ray hit a grounder down the left field line to break it up.
Yet, the Eagles could not make a dent in the scoreboard as Sanders just faced two batters over the minimum, thanks to a pair of first inning walks.
“Zach’s a senior and he’s that guy we want to go to all the time,” Indians coach David Montiel said. “He’s just a bulldog. He doesn’t want to give in. He wants to go out there and compete and win at everything that he does and that’s what you see.”
In Game 2, both offenses woke up as Tioga earned the sweep with a 6-5 extra-inning win thanks to Connor Miller driving in pinch runner Dustin Roy and making up for a fielding error earlier in the in the final inning.
Tioga (22-6) scored three runs in the first, but a resilient Eagle squad would not go away easily with a pair of runs in the top of the second.
Spears smashed a home run over the center field wall in the third, but Evangel countered with a two-run fourth to tie the game at 4.
After that, the defenses regulated the tempo as the game went into extra innings.
Evangel (21-9) broke the 4-4 tie when Collin Beckermeyer scored on the fielding error in the top of the eighth and seemed poised to earn the split.
However, Tioga had other plans in the bottom half of inning with a rally of its own.
With Spears drawing a walk and Sanders getting a base hit to put runners on first and second with one out, the Spears scored on an Evangel error to tie the game at 5-5, setting up Miller’s moment in the clutch.
“It feels great,” Miller said of the hit. “I can now go to sleep tonight.”
The Indians have busy slate in the upcoming week as they face DeRidder, Leesville and Grant with a non-district matchup against Jena looming.