The comebacks keep coming for the Lockeroom American Legion Baseball team.
Facing a six-run deficit and possible elimination from its own Twin Lakes Classic, the squad made its biggest comeback of the season to earn a trip to Sunday’s semifinals.
A rally in the bottom of the seventh forced extra innings, and a bases-loaded passed ball in the bottom of the eighth sent Lockeroom to a 7-6 victory over Everett GMC of Benton on Saturday night in the quarterfinals on Lester White Field at Cooper Park.
After trailing by 6-0 early, the hosts scored three in the third and three more in the seventh to even up the score. After Hayden Hall twirled his fifth inning of stellar relief in the top of the eighth, Lockeroom loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame and a passed ball scored the winning run.
“They do have a never-die attitude,” Lockeroom head coach Lester White said of his team. “They never think they’re out of a game. It was a great win for us, a great comeback. We’ve been down 4-0 and 3-0 this year, and there’s 6-0. We’ve come back and won all those games.”
Trailing 6-3, the hosts mounted a huge, two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh. Cole Anderson and Hayden Hall each had base hits, and after the second out, both came home when Brody Ninemire reached on an error on the shortstop.
After Mason Smith was hit by a pitch, Kyle Stephens came in to pinch hit and reached on catcher’s interference to load the bases. Quinn Ellison came back from a 0-2 count to coax a bases-loaded walk to plate the tying run. A fielder’s choice ended the rally and forced extra innings.
“We went down, then up, then down again because we had two great chances of scoring again but didn’t put the ball in play,” White said of his team’s missed opportunities earlier in the game. “We just kept battling, and I told them, ‘let’s just get a couple here and a couple there and get back in the game,’ and that’s what they did.”
Hall pitched his third 1-2-3 inning of the game in the top of the eighth to set up the walk-off victory.
“Hayden did a fantastic job,” White said. “Fantastic. He shut them down and gave us a good chance of coming back.”
Cole Anderson led off the eighth with a double down the left-field line, and with first base open, Benton elected to intentionally walk Sky-Lar Culver, who currently is batting .615 (8 of 13) for the tournament. Everett GMC also walked Hall to load the bases, and with no outs and Matt Robbins at the plate, a ball got away from the Benton catcher to plate the winning run.
“They did great with good, timely hitting,” said White, who earned his 884th career victory. “We had some great at-bats. Sky-Lar, he’s on fire, I mean he’s just knocking the cover off of it.”
Lockeroom (9-1) will face Pontotoc, Miss., at 11 a.m. Sunday in the semifinal round. Blue Springs, Mo., will face Rogersville, Mo., at 1:15 p.m. in the other semifinal.
Benton had four hits and took advantage of a pair of errors and two hit batsmen in the third inning to grab a big lead.
Jack Jumpers beat out an infield hit to start the uprising, and after Cletus Storment was hit by a pitch, Chris Musteen hit into a fielder’s choice that retired Storment. Colton Lane followed with a squeeze bunt that brought home Jumpers, and Lane reached on the bunt.
Austin Sheridan was hit by a pitch, and Kyler Nitschke singled home a run to make it 2-0. Cody Icenhower followed with a base hit to left field that brought home another run, and two more runs scored after the ball got past the leftfielder. Icenhower took third on the error and later scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-0.
Lockeroom got three runs back in the bottom of the third. Ellison laced a double inside the first-base bag, and Austin Jacobelli singled to lead off the rally.
Anderson smacked a triple to right-center field, bringing home both runners, and Culver followed with a walk. Hall reached on an error that scored Anderson to make it 6-3, but Benton pitcher Tyler Hamilton coaxed three straight outs to end the inning.
Lockeroom had the bases loaded with one out in the fifth inning, but a strikeout and a groundout on a ball that was deflected by the pitcher to the second baseman got Jumpers, the Benton reliever, out of the jam with no runs scored.
Hall earned the win in relief, striking out striking out five and allowing just two hits over five innings. Ryan Czanstkowski allowed six runs — three earned — and five hits over three innings in the start for Lockeroom.
Rogersville, Mo. 12,
The McDonald’s Big Macs jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Rogersville answered with eight runs in the top of the third. Bailey Rettman provided the big blast with a three-run home run for Rogersville.
A pair of errors led to two more runs for Rogersville in the fifth as it took a 10-2 advantage, but Harrison kept from being run-ruled with four runs in the bottom of the fifth. Rogersville made two errors in the inning, and Will Spry came up with a big RBI double for the Big Macs.
Nathan Chainey and Rettman each score to push Rogersville’s lead to 12-6 in the seventh, but Harrison had another rally up its sleeve in its final at-bat.
Adam Brown singled, and Spry belted a two-run homer to close to within 12-8 with no outs. Logan Schuh doubled, and with one out, Lane Hiliard singled him home to cut the lead to three. After a walk, Rogersville recorded the last two outs to preserve the victory.
Pontotoc, Miss. 12,
Eureka, Mo. 4, 5 in.
Facing a team that had allowed only one run through three games in the Classic, Eureka Post 177 plated two in the very first inning, but it still didn’t generate enough offense to compete with the heavy-hitting Red Sox lineup.
Garrett Witte and Avery Driggs each scored runs for Eureka in the first, but Pontotoc (7-0) plated six in its first-inning at-bat. Chance Witt clubbed a three-run homer to cap the scoring, while Tyreque Reed bashed the Red Sox’s sixth homer of the tournament with a shot in the second inning.
Pontotoc led 9-2 after the second, but Post 177 scored twice in the third as Driggs and Andrew Bujnak each scored runs.
Delvin Zinn, Reed and Jake McDonald each scored runs to stretch the Red Sox’s lead to 12-4 after four innings. Zinn and McDonald had two hits each to lead the Red Sox at the plate.
Blue Springs, Mo. 15,
Fike/Post 499 scored three runs in the top of the third to begin pulling away, and it plated three more in the fourth an dealt the knockout blow with seven in the top of the seventh to advance to the semifinals.
Nate Pecota – who had an RBI double in the first inning – smacked a three-run homer to culminate the seven-run seventh for Fike (9-3).
Cale Benson had three hits and scored three runs for Blue Springs. Heath Fortson bashed a solo homer to left in the bottom of the fourth for the Highwaymen.
For local sports updates, follow Neal Denton on Twitter @BBSportsNeal and Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/BBSportsNeal