All it takes is one moment to flip a baseball game on its head.
The GW Vacuum Truck Service Young Guns took full advantage of that on Thursday night, topping the RFNOW Cardinals 7-1 in game two of the Andrew Agencies Senior AA Baseball League championship series.
The teams were tied 1-1 in the top of the sixth when it all broke down for the Cardinals.
With one out, Guns’ Bradley Schoonbaert hit a single that brought Ty Gutenburg to home plate with runners on second and third. Cardinals catcher Reese Wilson was standing on the plate and caught the throw to home, but he didn’t tag out Schoonbaert — there was no force out — which means the run counted and gave the Guns the 2-1 lead.
Young Guns’ winning pitcher, Sean Dryden, noted situations like that just happen sometimes — it could’ve easily been the Guns at the other end of the barrel.
"They hit a couple of key balls, we put them in play where they hit it right to our guys and we didn’t make a mistake," said Dryden.
"They unfortunately got a couple of bad bounces, it bit them in the end, but 7-1 doesn’t account for what the game actually was. Last year we had three games that were 2-1, it was so tight. Anything can happen (in Game 3) Monday or (Game 4) Tuesday, so we just got to be ready to go."
The Guns went to score four more runs in the inning. Jordan Robertson hit a two-RBI single and scored on a wild pitch. Dylan Haney notched an RBI single to make it a 6-1 lead.
In the seventh, Andrew Janz had a somewhat comical rundown between first and second while trying to steal base. The were almost too many dips, dodges and dives to count, but Robertson ended up being called safe at second and later scored the final run of the game on a wild pitch.
While the offence was strong for the Young Guns on Thursday, some could argue that the pitching was even stronger.
Dryden pulled off his first complete game of the season, with only five hits — on 71 pitches, nonetheless.
"I’m not accustomed to that at all, but the low pitch count definitely helps. When you get into the 100s you tend to pewter out pretty quick. My good defence behind me kept the ball in play and we got our outs," Dryden said.
Speaking of good defence, Guns’ second baseman Dylan Haney absolutely robbed the Cards of a powerful hit and potential base runs in the third inning, when he made a leaping catch to pull off a double play.
The Cardinals scored their lone run of the game in the fourth inning. James Shearer hit a double after knocking the ball underneath the glove of Guns’ first baseman Mitch Lyall. Two batters later, Danny Cochrane hit a rocket deep-right centre to bring Shearer home from second.
The Young Guns opened scoring when Mark Derlago drove in Schoonbaert on an error.
Two outs and three batters later, Guns’ Mitch Lyall hit a single to load the bases. Cards pitcher Joel Krentz shut down a potential run spree when he shut down the next batter to end the inning.
The Cardinals were up one game headed into Thursday’s match, after topping the Young Guns 4-3 In game one of the best-of-five championship series on Tuesday night.
With the series now tied at a game a piece, Dryden is looking forward to the series ahead.
"It’s a pretty big deal, winning tonight’s game. When you fall down 0-2 like we did last year, that’s quite a struggle to get back into it. Games get tighter, players get tighter and it gets harder to win," he said.
The teams will meet again at 6:30 on Monday at Sumner Field, to battle it out for the series lead. The game was postponed from today due to Cards’ player availability.
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