CHRIS JASTER/BRANDON SUN
Andy Moore, left, is waved home from third by Reston Rockets manager Ross Tycoles during Friday’s Manitoba Senior Baseball League game against the Neepawa Farmers in Reston. Moore scored to tie the game 3-3 and Reston went on to win 4-3.
RESTON — The Reston Rockets continued to do things the hard way on Friday.
The Rockets, who came into Game 6 of the Manitoba Senior Baseball League final needing a win to stay alive, gave up the first three runs, but battled back to force a seventh and deciding game when Shaun Kemp scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Reston a 4-3 victory over the Neepawa Farmers.
The way Reston won seemed to fit in with the theme of the Rockets’ playoff run, as they trailed their best-of-five semifinal 2-1 and the were behind in the final 3-1 after four games, but they’re still alive and one win away from the title.
"It’s more that we can’t get too amped up. We put a little bit too much pressure on ourselves to score runs and we’ve come back every series," Kemp said. "… (It’s) just that never-say-die mentality that we’re going with right now."
It was an unlikely finish for the Rockets. Kemp is normally a left-handed pitcher and hasn’t had many plate appearances in the playoffs.
He caught the Farmers off guard with a bunt single to lead off the inning and then advanced to second when catcher Ryan Cooper tried to pick him off but threw the ball into right field. Kemp reached third on a double play before scoring the winning run.
It didn’t look like the game would be that dramatic in the top of the first as Kevin Levandosky doubled home Matt Lowry, then Cooper followed up with a two-run blast.
Mitch Olson got Reston back into the game with a two-run home run in the bottom half of the first.
The Rockets tied the game in the seventh on a Buddy Mayert triple that scored Andy Moore, leading to a dramatic ninth.
"I still can’t even put it into words," Kemp said. "Anything can happen Game 7. I’m just trying to ride it out. It’s been a great season."
Moore went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs for Reston, while Eric Truscott was 4-for-4 at the plate.
Lowry and Eric Desilets both had a pair of hits for the Farmers, who host Game 7 on Sunday at 6 p.m.
Roberto Rodriguez took the loss for Neepawa. He threw the last two innings in relief of Fernando Rodriguez, who went 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and six hits.
Cole Stober pitched the ninth inning to collect the win. He allowed a runner to reach third base with two out but got Bryan White to ground out to third to end the threat. Zane Sawyer started the game and lasted eight innings, giving up three runs and eight hits, while striking out seven.
The loss was tough to take for the Farmers, but head coach Mike Levandosky believes one simple thing can get his team back on track on Sunday.
"Get some timely hits," he said. "We scored three runs in the first inning. We had runners in scoring position and we couldn’t advance them. We didn’t do the proper things right, it’s that simple."
Meanwhile, the Rockets — who won what appears to be their last home game in the MSBL after informing the league they won’t be back next season — feel confident going into the final contest.
"I feel pretty good about us," Rockets head coach Ross Tycoles said. "We were pretty dejected when we lost (Game 4) and I think we’ve come back and there’s a lot of pressure on them going home, so we feel good about ourselves."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 17, 2013