The West Lincoln Rebels couldnâ€™t believe it was over Friday night losing to the Bandys Trojans 7-4.
In just one season the Rebels went from 0-25 to 15-11. But that wasnâ€™t what seemed to be on their minds after the game.
In a winner-takes-all play-in game the Rebels came up just short sending the Trojans into the 2A State Playoffs and ending Westâ€™s season.
Up 3-2 and somewhat in control of the game, West gave up three runs in top of the fifth inning.
A Bubbie Spake blooper to short center scored Matt Oaks who had reached via a bunt. But the game-tying run didnâ€™t come without some controversy.
Centerfielder Brandan Jones appeared to have nailed Oaks at third, but Oaks was ruled safe on the bang-bang play.
Zach Elliott singled to score Bret Bernhardt who had doubled to give Bandys a 4-3 lead.
Zac Koehler was removed after working 5 1/3 innings, wile giving up three runs and scattering seven hits.
A Manning Wimberly sac-fly RBI scored pinch-runner Daniel Schrum to complete the big inning.
A Bernhardt RBI-single scored Boyles making the advantage 6-3.
First baseman Spake homered to left field to give the Trojans a 7-3 lead.
The Rebels were down to their last at bat in the bottom of the seventh.
Leadoff man and senior Dylan Anthony doubled to start the inning off.
Daniel Scronce then lined one to right to score Anthony bringing the Rebels to within three runs.
After a Rebelâ€™s strikeout, Trojansâ€™ shortstop Kelly Johnson made a diving play and completed a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
The victory sends the Trojans into the 2A State Playoffs.
While six Rebelsâ€™ seniors player their last game. Perhaps Jones summed the Rebelsâ€™ successful â€™04 campaign best.
â€œComing from a losing season takes a lot of heart an a lot of hard work. It (the turnaround season) keeps coming back to the love of the game. It stinks the way it had to end, but I wouldnâ€™t mind doing it all over again,â€ he said choking back the emotion after the game.
A Scronce liner to center scored Dustin Hester to put the Rebels ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Brent Gatesâ€™ hustle allowed him to reach via an error in the bottom of the third. The hustle play allowed Anthony to score to tie the game at 2-2.
Sophomore Paul Finger tripled to get things started in the second inning. A wild pitch scored him for West Lincolnâ€™s first run of the contest.
Elliott who entered the game in fourth for Tyler Boyles earned the victory for the Trojans, striking out three batters and surrendering only two hits.
Jones picked up the loss for the Rebels.
Wimberly led the Trojans at the plate going 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Bernhardt also went 2-for-4 with one RBI. Spake followed suite (2-for-4) and had two RBIs.
Scronce led the Rebels, and the game, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Finger went 2-for-3, while Anthony went 2-for-4 and scored two runs.
Gates, despite playing in his last game, believes the future looks bright for the Rebels.
â€œThe ride was fun, but it had to end sometime. Theyâ€™re a pretty young team with only five seniors. Theyâ€™re coming together and theyâ€™re going to be good.â€
Rebels seniors react
Brent Gates, Dylan Anthony, Zac Koehler, Toby Lawerence and Brandan Jones played their last high school baseball game for West Lincoln.
â€œWe came together as a team and pitching is what got us here,â€ Gates said.
Anthony was proud of what the 2004 edition of the Rebelsâ€™ baseball team was able to accomplish.
â€œWe completely turned everything aroundâ€” it took a lot of hard work,â€ he said.
Koehler reflected on his teammates and his coachesâ€™ efforts after the loss.
â€œI couldnâ€™t have played with a finer group. Iâ€™m glad we had the coaches cause theyâ€™re working hard to get us to the next level and get us to strap them on,â€ he said.
Lawerence echoed those sentiments.
â€œThis is the best group Iâ€™ve ever played with in my life, since it was my last game Iâ€™m glad it was with them,â€ he said.
â€œIâ€™ve played with these boys since my sophomore year, and I love them,â€ Jones said.
The Rebels enjoyed a tremendous turnaround going from a winless season to nearly making the 2A State Playoffs this year.by John Mark Brooks