H.S. BASEBALL: Line Mountain rallies past Halifax
MANDATA - Through six innings Monday, Line Mountain played a quick, clean baseball game against Halifax, taking a 5-3 lead into the seventh inning.
Then the defense blew a gasket and the game became a battle of wills, with the teams trading leads back and forth until Colton Gaw's sacrifice fly gave the Eagles a 10-9 win in eight innings over the Wildcats in a Tri-Valley League game.
"We played real good baseball for six innings, then let them back in the game, but the big thing is we battled back and didn't let our mistakes in the field cost us the game," Line Mountain coach Jon Raker said, "Both teams really battled. We took the lead, they tied it, they took the lead, we came back and tied it, then they took the lead again and we came back
again. That was one of the better high school games I've been involved in."
The win improved Line Mountain's overall record to 7-1 and the Eagles' TVL mark to 5-0. Halifax dropped to 4-3, 3-3.
Gaw was the biggest of many clutch hitters for both teams, ironically most of whom were near or at the bottom of the orders. He had three singles before his sacrifice fly, including a two-run single to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh.
"I was seeing the ball well and they were throwing it right down the middle," Gaw said. "We knew we had to battle back when they took the lead."
Starting pitchers Kellan Masser for Line Mountain and Blake Enders for Halifax worked quickly and well through the early part of the game. Halifax took a 2-0 lead on a run-scoring double by ninth hitter Koby Bowman, who was 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and two runs batted in, and a run-scoring single by Joe Raker.
Line Mountain tied the game in the fourth on a two-run double by Tanner Spatzer, and went ahead 3-2 in the fifth when Cory Warford delivered a sacrifice fly, which scored the Eagles' ninth hitter, Corey Paul, who doubled to start the inning.
But Paul's error in center field in the sixth allowed Raker, who singled, to tie the game.
Paul came up big in the bottom of the inning though, singling to drive in John Yerger, who was hit by a pitch, and Masser followed with a single to score Justin Kaleta, who singled ahead of Paul, although Paul was later called out for failing to touch second base on the way to third to end the inning. Kaleta and Paul were a combined 4-for-5 with three runs scored and an RBI at the bottom of the order.
"That was a real big at-bat by Corey," Raker said. "Everyone saw the play in the field but we always talk about when you have plays like that, you just have to forget it not let it affect your offense," Raker said. "He came back and hit a seed. Corey's a real good hitter in that ninth hole. He gets on base and has some speed when he's on the bases."
But the Eagles committed two more errors in the top of the seventh, allowing Halifax to tie the game at 5-5. Number eight hitter Zach Schumber singled and went to second on a throwing error by Brady Michael at short and Bowman followed with another double. Leadoff hitter Dewey Schaeffer beat out a bunt, scoring Bowman, and took another base when Warford's throw from third went wild, then scored on Joe Raker's two-run home run, putting the Wildcats ahead 7-5.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Warford was hit by reliever Sammy Cook and went to third on a double by J.P. Lenker. Gaw followed with his two-run single to tie the game.
Again Halifax went ahead, against Michael who came in to relieve for Masser and again with the help of an error. Dan Oschenbach was hit by a pitch to start the inning and after a sacrifice by Ryan Minnich, scored from third on a throwing error by catcher Lenker after Jarrett Hoy's bunt single. Hoy was thrown out at third but Schumber followed with a triple and scored on a singly by Bowman, making it 9-7.
Line Mountain loaded the bases against reliever Hunter Hilinski in the bottom of the eighth with one out and Warford hit a two-run single to tie the game. Lenker was walked intentionally to reload the bases, setting up Yaw's sacrifice fly.
Masser gave up 11 hits in his seven innings but three of the runs were unearned. He struck out three and walked three.
Line Mountains hosts Greenwood in a TVL game on Wednesday.
Blake Enders, Sammy Cook (6), Hunter Hilinski (8) and Pritchard; Kellan Masser, Brady Michael (8) and J.P. Lenker. W - Michael (1-0). L - Hilinski.
2B - Bowman 2; Spatzer, Paul, Lenker. 3B - Schumber. HR - Raker