In the bottom of the seventh inning in a 5-5 game, Brock Hill broke for the plate down the third base line as the pitch bounced past the catcher to score the winning run in a 6-5 Woodlawn Cardinal victory against the Sandoval Blackhawks in the opening round of the Midland Trail Conference baseball tournament on Monday.
“That was a little nerve-wracking. I don’t need too many games like that, I’m already gray-haired enough,” said Cardinals coach Mike Kehrer. “But that shows you what quality of players that these guys are, they never gave up. We kept hitting. We kept battling. We kept digging away there.”
The two teams could only manage one hit between them during the first three innings (Woodlawn’s Jeremy Aparicio).
But in the fourth the Blackhawks got the first run of the game when Christian Crawford crossed the plate.
The Cardinals responded in the bottom of the same inning. Aparicio hit a one-out single, followed by a walk to John Hollingsworth.
Aparicio scored on a double by Hill to tie the game 1-1. Quinton Kehrer singled, scoring Hollingsworth. Then A.J. Webb grounded out, but Hill scored on the play, putting the Cardinals up 3-1.
After Brendan Petersen was hit by a pitch, Matt Kennedy singled, which scored Kehrer to put the Cardinals up 4-1.
After a quiet fifth inning, the Blackhawks got four runs in the sixth, as Tyson Minor, Jeremy Kunich, Josh Boatright and Ryan Neipoetter scored for Sandoval.
After the fourth run, Kehrer went to the bullpen to get some relief for Cards starter Hollingsworth.
“Hollingsworth pitched a good game, but he was getting tired there (in the sixth),” said Kehrer. “He was only up to about 78 pitches, but his ball was getting flat. And he was getting very hittable.”
Woodlawn brought in Aparicio with two out and the bases loaded with Sandoval leading 5-4.
“I probably should have taken him (Hollingsworth) out a batter before, but I thought that I would give him a chance to finish it out,” Kehrer said. “Then Aparicio came in and shut them down. Aparicio is one of our better pitchers. He shut them down when they were hitting the ball well. He finished it out for us.”
Woodlawn couldn’t get any traction in the the home half of the sixth.
But, as possibly a harbinger of what was yet to come, the Sandoval seventh inning leadoff batter smoked a line drive to right center field.
Kennedy, the Woodlawn centerfielder, was parallel to the ground when he made the catch, taking away what would have most certainly been a double for the Blackhawks. The next two Sandoval batters went down as well.
Jayson Hapeman led off the Woodlawn seventh with a double. With two out, Hill was hit by a pitch.
Hapeman scored the game-tying run on a single by Kehrer. Webb was then hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Petersen was at the plate when Hill scored the winning run.
Coach Kehrer said that the Cards came alive when they needed to.
“We didn’t swing at bad pitches in the last inning,” Kehrer said. “I thought that we were early in the game. We popped a few up. But, then we got our bats back and started hitting the ball where it needed to be hit.”
The Woodlawn Cardinals will face Noble-West Richland as the MTC tournament continues on Wednesday in Noble.