GARY — They play here every year, and the RailCats McDonald’s High School Challenge is in its 14th year.
It’s a staple of the event.
They are district rivals, and every sport — other than the ones combined into co-op teams — heighten the intensity of the matchup. However, something about playing an annual contest in a professional stadium always makes it fun and exciting.
“The kids are amped,” T.F. South coach Matt Tiffy said. “We’re amped, they’re amped, and nobody wants to lose to a rival.”
When T.F. North refused to quit or lie down in the fifth inning of Friday night’s game against T.F. South at U.S. Steel Yard, no one in attendance exhibited signs of shock, and that wasn’t just because their faces were frozen.
South put up eight runs in the second inning, hung onto an eventual 12-0 lead and won 12-5 in the regulation seven innings. North fought till the last out.
North got on base with two walks, and both Shaquan Bowens and Jalen Barnes scored on Dorian Giles’ RBI single to cut the deficit to 12-5 before a groundout ended the game.
The first four innings were all Rebels (8-12) as senior Kyle Hallberg dominated on the mound. The left-hander had pitched Monday but wanted the ball in his final appearance in the Challenge. He struck out seven in four innings, including 1-2-3 all-strikeout slates in the first and fourth against the top of the Meteors’ order.
“He’s a senior, and he did what a senior should do and carried us,” Tiffy said. “He kept guys off balance all night.”
Three walks, two errors and two hit batters helped South dominate the second inning for eight runs. Tyler Labedz had a two-run single, and Ben Dickens and John Muth later added back-to-back two-run singles.
Jeremy Urdiales had an RBI double in the first and an RBI single in the fourth that made the score 12-0.
North (6-10) got RBI singles from Barnes and Giles in the fifth off a reliever as part of a three-run frame that extended the game.