The East Lincoln Mustangs rallied from a 5-0 to deficit to come back and beat the West Lincoln Rebels 9-8 Wednesday night.
The win gave the Mustangs a season-sweep of the Rebels, but it did not come easy.
Down to 9-7 in the bottom of the seventh, the Rebels appeared to be rallying to win.
Courtesy runner Jeremy Pearson scored on Daniel Scronceâ€™s fourth hit of the night. The liner over shortstop Jake Blackâ€™s head brought the Rebels within one at 9-8 with two outs.
Cole Reynolds entered the game to run for Tyler High, who walked previous to Scronceâ€™s at-bat. With Reynolds on second and Scronce on first, Dustin Hester stepped to the plate.
Hester worked Mustangsâ€™ pitcher Greyson Schram to a full-count. Schram, who had pitched the whole game, looked to be fatigued.
Fatigued or not, Schram benefited from what appeared to be a ball to end the game with a strikeout. If Hester would have reached, the Rebels would have had Paul Finger coming up to bat with the bases loaded.
Finger was 3-for-4 on the night with a run batted in.
It was gutsy complete-game for Schram, who battled through ups and downs, to strikeout 11 batters on the night.
The right-handed junior pitcher said he wasnâ€™t tired in the seventh.
â€œIt started to heat up towards the end. At the beginning of the game, it was kind of hanging a little bit. I started struggling and they started hitting,â€ Schram said.
â€œAbout the third or fourth inning, I started feeling better and it ends up where we are now, we hit the ball,â€ he said.
As big as Schramâ€™s clutch pitching was for the Mustangs, T.J. Chapmanâ€™s two-run homerun to left field was just as big.
The blast broke a 6-6 tie, giving the Mustangs an 8-6 lead in the top of the sixth. Chapman was 0-for-3 before he authored the biggest hit of the night.
â€œIt was a full-count, so I was looking for something right down the middle, so I got it and just crushed it,â€ Chapman said.
â€œI had a pretty good idea of what was coming,â€ Chapman said of the 3-2 fastball.
Schram and the Mustangsâ€™ spirits were lifted with the two-run bomb.
â€œThat gave me a lot of confidence. That pumped us up and everything, so it got us good,â€ Schram said.
The Rebels built a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the third. Scronce, the lead-off man, hit a liner down the right-field line for a triple. Hester knocked him in to get things rolling.
After Finger doubled deep to left-center, a wild-pitch scored Hester. Chris Henderson doubled to left to score Finger to extend the lead to 3-0.
After another wild pitch scored Reynolds, who was running for Henderson, Johnathon Wise lined one to right to plate Watts who had singled.
The Mustangs chipped away at the deficit in the top of the fourth. Bradley Morris and Black both walked with one out. Clint Hyde scored Morris with a single into right-center.
Russell Mahaffey singled to right to score Black. Rebelsâ€™ head coach Allan Chapman took out Ryan Rhodes, who looked to have lost his control.
Mahaffey stole second, then Rebelsâ€™ third baseman Heath Cole threw out Hyde, who tried to score at home for the second out of the inning.
After pitcher Daniel Smith balked to load the bases, Trent Hovis slid into first to score Mahaffey. The play was bang-bang and could have gone either way. Hovisâ€™ hustle brought East to within two, 5-3.
A Jesse Cadenhead walk, with the bases loaded, scored Guice to dwindle the lead to 5-4.
A Guice RBI-double started the Mustangsâ€™ rally in the top of the sixth.
Mustangsâ€™ head coach Matt Neville believed the rally happened primarily because theyâ€™ve been in a similar type of situation.
â€œItâ€™s kind of the attitude we developed in the summer time. We were down seven runs and threw 12 on the board and ever since then we realize weâ€™re never out of a game,â€ he said.
â€œI feel fortunate about going on the road and getting a win, but I truly believe we can hit one-through-nine and itâ€™s just a matter of time before we see a pitcher enough,â€ Neville added.
Chapman felt his team was let down by a strong area of his team, pitching.
â€œWe played good enough to win. We put ourselves behind a lot, pitched from behind and let them sit on fastballs. Any team can hit a fastball, even the bad teams,â€ he said.
â€œYou got to give them credit, they came over here and fought hard,â€ Chapman added.
Morris led the Mustangs with a 2-for-2 performance with two walks. Guice and Chapman both had two RBIs.
The leading hitter for the game was Scronce, who went 4-for-5 with a RBI. Finger went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Henderson and Watts had two hits apiece.
The Rebels are now 2-3, while East ups its record to 4-2 on the season.
Rivalry gets heated
In the bottom of the fourth, Finger beat out an East Lincoln throw for a base hit that plated Henderson. A ruling was made that Finger took his turn and first baseman Chapman alertly tagged Finger out.
On Fingerâ€™s way back to the Rebelsâ€™ dugout, the Mustangsâ€™ dugout had plenty to say. Finger responded.
The umpire stopped the game and warned both teams that any more words said taunting an opponent would result in an ejection from the ball game.
â€œIâ€™m proud of our kids for the class they showed in such a heated rivalry game,â€ Chapman said.
Right, Daniel Scronce went 4-for-5 with three singles and a triple. Scronce also had a RBI in the losing cause. Chris Dean / LTN Photo
by John Mark Brooks