Polk County baseball coach Billy Alm offered postgame congratulations Monday evening to Chan Barber. Barber responded with perhaps the best summary of the Wolverines’ home opener.
“I probably had the best game of my life,” Barber said.
Indeed, Barber’s effort would likely rank as a career night for most players.
The Polk senior finished 4-for-4, matched a school record with two triples and pitched two scoreless innings to help lead the Wolverines to a 10-6 victory over Patton in a Mountain Foothills 7 Conference game at The Bottoms.
Barber’s night proved especially vital for the Wolverines (5-1, 2-0) as Patton (3-4, 0-2) grabbed an early 5-0 advantage. Polk didn’t panic, though, and tied the game by the bottom of the third before taking charge with a five-run fourth inning to complete a sweep of their early-season series with the Panthers.
“Chan had four hits, and after his pitching performance and performance at the plate, I told him he was my hero of the night,” Alm said.
“I thought we played pretty well after the first couple of innings. We didn’t really come out very focused, and that forced us to scrap for a couple of innings until we got the bats going.”
Barber’s single served as the only hit in Polk’s two-run second inning, the Wolverines benefitting from a hit batter, infield groundout and walk to score a pair of runs to cut Patton’s lead to 5-2.
Polk began to find its offensive rhythm in the third inning. Walks to Evan Jones and Coble Cameron opened the inning, with the two each moving up a base on Angus Weaver’s fly ball to right field. Jackson Beiler singled to center to score both runners, with Beiler thrown out on a close play at second trying to move up a base.
Micah Hill followed with a towering drive to left-center that bounced off the top of the fence, with Hill reaching second for a double, before Barber belted his first triple, bringing Hill home with the tying run.
The Wolverines loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth with one out, with Weaver’s single to left scoring two runs. An infield error on a Beiler grounder reloaded the bases, and Coble Cameron and Weaver each scored moments later on a zany play as a pickoff attempt by Patton catcher Waylon Rutherford bounced into left field, unnoticed by the Panthers’ outfield. Beiler raced around to third on the play as well.
Barber then crushed a drive to deep right-center, allowing him to race around the bases for his second triple. That tied a school record set in 1998 by Richard McEntyre against North Henderson and gave Polk a 10-5 lead.
Hill earned the win on the mound, pitching five innings and allowing four hits and two walks while striking out four. Barber struck out three and walked two in his two hitless innings of relief.
Cameron, Weaver, Beiler and Hill each had base hits for Polk, which returns to action on Tuesday at home, hosting Hendersonville in a 6 p.m. game.
“The biggest thing for us tonight is that we were able to come back and falling behind 5-0,” Alm said. “We dealt with some adversity and we overcame that and won the game.”