BELPRE, Ohio — They waited most of the night, but came through when the time was right.
The Southern baseball team trailed by three runs headed into the sixth inning of Friday’s Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division contest in Washington County, but the Tornadoes rallied for nine runs over the final two frames and wound up with an 11-5 victory over host Belpre.
Southern (5-2, 5-2 TVC Hocking) — playing Belpre for the first time since the Golden Eagles upset the Tornadoes in the 2018 postseason opener — led 1-0 after two innings of play, with Ryan Laudermilt scored on a one-out error in the top of the second.
The Golden Eagles took the lead with a three-run third inning, but Southern got one run back in the top of the fifth, as Logan Drummer scored on a Jensen Anderson groundout.
Belpre, however, benefited from a two-run home run by Jesse Collins in the bottom of the fifth, and led 5-2 with two innings to play.
The Tornadoes battled back in the top of the sixth, pulling within two runs on when Coltin Parker scored on a sac-fly from Laudermilt.
With two outs and two on in the top of the sixth, Belpre walked back-to-back batters, bringing the Tornadoes within one run. Then, the next two Southern batters were hit by pitches, giving the guests a 6-5 lead before a groundout ended the inning.
The top of the seventh inning began with three consecutive hits out of the bottom third of the Tornado lineup, paving the way for a five-run inning to cap off the 11-5 win.
Gage Shuler was the winning pitcher of record in four innings of relief for Southern, striking out six batters and walking three, while giving up two earned runs and three hits. Drummer started for the Tornadoes and went three innings, striking out two batters and walking five, while allowing three runs, two earned, on two hits.
Noah Diddle paced the Tornado offense, going 3-for-5 with a run scored and a run batted in. Laudermilt was 2-for-3 with a double, two runs and an RBI for the victors, while Billy Harmon went 2-for-4 with a double, a run and three RBIs.
Shuler and Parker both doubled once and scored once for the Tornadoes, Cole Steele singled once and scored twice, while Ryan Acree singled once and drove in three runs. Drummer contributed three runs to the winning cause, while Anderson picked up a pair of RBIs.
Leading BHS at the plate, Collins was 2-for-2 with a home run and four RBIs, while Logan Adams was 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Belpre was responsible for four of the game’s five errors, but Southern left a dozen runners on base, five more than the hosts.
The Purple and Gold will go meet with the Orange and Black again on April 22 in Racine.
Next, Southern hosts Eastern on Tuesday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.