EVANSVILLE — When Tim Turpin started the Greater Evansville Sports Hall of Fame’s 15-and-under Ohio River Valley World Series, he couldn’t have imagined how much sports history it would touch.
The Indianapolis-based Indy Rawlings Tigers, who beat the Central Illinois Outlaws 8-3 in Sunday afternoon’s championship game in University of Evansville’s Braun Stadium, are coached by Kevin Cartwright, former Jasper High School football running back who played that sport at Ball State University. A Jasper High baseball player for two years, he returned to the diamond by playing five years with the semipro Jasper Reds. His high school coaches were Hall of Famers Jerry Brewer on the gridiron and Terry Gobert in baseball.
The Central Illinois Outlaws, based in Casey but including players from as far south as Newton and Vandalia, include shortstop and third baseman Charlie Spoonhour. Dad Jay Spponhour, who attended the four-day World Series, coached Mount Carmel-based Wabash Valley College basketball men to the National Junior College Athletic Association championship in 2000. He recently finished a 10-year stint as men’s basketball coach at Eastern Illinois University, the Charleston school where former Evansville of Evansville playing standout Marty Simmons recently became head coach. Charlie’s grandfather Charles Spoonhour head coached hoops teams at St. Louisville University, Nevada-Las Vegas and Missouri-St. Louis.
Turpin’s Evansville Outlaws, who fell 3-2 to the Henderson-based Kentucky Expos in the Mayor’s Cup division final that capped the World Series, include outfielder and pitcher Logan Mattingly of Evansville North High. “My dad Brandon is Don Mattingly’s cousin,” said Larry. Meaning that dad is also the cousin of former University of Evansville quarterback Randy Mattingly, who played in the Canadian football League after NFL training camp stints with the Chicago Bears, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.
The World Series’ championship and Mayor’s Cup divisions included six teams each as determined by Thursday and Friday play in Bosse Field and Braun Stadium. The Rawlings Tigers and Evansville Leathernecks each went unbeaten in three games those days. Six teams, including the Evansville Outlaws, went 2-1. Runs allowed determined which four of those six teams would advance to the Championship division. McCutchanville, winner of the inaugural World Series in 2020, allowed just eight runs its first three games. The Dayton (Ohio) Ducks yielded 10, Central Illinois Outlaws 11, Indianapolis Panthers 14. Meaning Evansville’s Outlaws missed the Championship bracket by one, having yielded 15 runs including a 5-3 loss to the Indy Panthers, a 4-0 shutout of the Ducks and late Friday’s 11-10 six-inning win over Bloomington (Ill.) Vipers.
“We’re the No. 1 seed in the Mayor’s Cup,” Turpin noted.
All games were scheduled for seven innings and included a two-hour time limit. Friday’s late game, which the Vipers led 10-6 after 31/2 innings, passed two hours in the top of the sixth with the teams tied at 10. Moments later the Evansvillians prevailed as North High’s Cayden Gehlhausen singled home Logan Dishman, who opened the inning with a bunt single.
Dishman, who is leaving Evansville Memorial because he’s moving to Tampa, Fla., pitched a six-inning one-hitter vs. Dayton and batted 2-for-3. Muhlenberg County (Ky.) prep Sumner Shelton, who pitched the seventh, got three hits. Gehlhausen batted 3-for-3.
The Vipers, by beating the Evansville Razorbacks 3-0 Saturday morning after losing their first three games, thus qualified for a Saturday night rematch with Evansville’s Outlaws. The hosts broke a 2-2 tie with a five-run bottom of the fourth. Dishman’s tie-breaking single scored Sawyer Rohrer. Reitz High’s Brent Katowitz hit a two-run double. And after the Vipers moved within 7-4 in the sixth, he hit another two-run double in the bottom of that inning. Thus a 10-4 win in which Brock Tindle of Hancock County, Ky., pitched a complete-game six-hitter with just two earned runs.
“Brock located his pitches well, especially on the outside, and we hit well,” Turpin said.
Initially, Sunday’s Mayor’s Cup final was scheduled at noon, the Championship game at 3 p.m. Turpin flipflopped them. “Let the two teams from farthest away play first so they’ll get home sooner,” he said.
Rawlings, sweeping five games in the Series and capping its season with a 33-13-1 record, answered Central Illinois’ two-run top of the first with two in its half. The Tigers took control with a four-run third as Greenwood High’s Landen Smith singled home the tie-breaking run and moments later stole home. Christian Deckard, who took the mound after Central Illinois scored its first two runs and had bases filled in the first, pitched 61/3 shutout innings while striking out six, yielding three hits and walking none.
Moments after the win, Deckard was named the Series’ Most Valuable Player. “Christian will be a sophomore at New Palestine,” said Cartwright, in his third summer as the Tigers’ coach.
Deckard’s teammate Colt Seiler received the Series’ Outstanding Pitcher Award. “Colt pitched a perfect game in our 12-0 four-inning win over the Indy Panthers,” Cartwright said. “This after three perfect innings in our 7-3 opening win over Central Illinois. Thus seven perfect innings here. Colt will be a sophomore at Franklin Central High. Our catcher Dylan Richards, shortstop Bryant Haddad and left fielder Ty Horvath, three more Franklin Central players, also made the All-Series Team.”
Longest Sunday hit for Central Illinois, its record 22-9 including four wins in the Series, was a first-inning double by Josh Kirkwood.
Kentucky’s Expos, to take a 17-7 record into next weekend’s Missouri Valley Elite Showcase at UE and USI, scored an unearned run the top of the third, which included an injury that took Evansville third baseman Drew Bateman out of the game. Bateman, of Evansville Reitz, made a diving catch but the ball popped loose when his left shoulder hit the turf. “I think Drew separated his shoulder. It was out of socket,” said Turpin, who saw a different misfortune start the Expos’ two-run fourth. Jayce Hicks’ flyball became a triple when it was lost in the sun. Hicks scored on a triple by Dax Wilson, who scored on a groundout for the visitors’ 3-1 lead
The Outlaws, who scored in the third on Tindle’s single, two walks and a sacrifice fly by
Evansville Memorial’s Jeremiah McGuire, edged within 3-2 in the sixth when Connor Watson singled and came home on a two-out single by Sawyer Rohrer, a Henderson County prep playing against fellow townsmen. They threatened in the in the seventh when Shelton reached on an error, took second on Mattingly’s sacrifice bunt and waited through Tindle’s intentional walk, but righthander Clayton Brown got a closing strikeout. It marked the Expos’ third win over the local Outlaws, the others by 6-2 on both June 4 and July 6.
“Clayton said Thursday he couldn’t pitch because his arm was sore,” said Expos co-head coach Todd Hamilton, whose son Parker homered in Saturday’s 10-3 win over the Southern Indiana Cobras.
“Saturday he wanted to pitch, but we said no. Today he said his arm felt good, and we trust our players.”
Brown pitched a complete-game five-hitter with four walks and three strikeouts. Teammate Caleb Gorrell batted 2-for-3. “Brown kept the ball low,” said Turpin, who saw the winning pitcher and Parker Hamilton named All-Series along with Shelton and Rohrer. Dishman received the Mental Attitude Award. Rawlings was named Best Offensive Team, the Expos Best Defensive Team.
The Outlaws will take a 15-15 record into a St. Louis tournament starting Friday. And there’ll be more. “We started the Tombstone Classic in June, but the second semifinal got stopped by rain inn the sixth inning,” Turpin said. “We didn’t finish that game till July 4 when the Cobras beat the Expos. We’ll play the Cobras for the championship at 2 p.m., Sunday., August 8.”