St. Stephens Wins In Extras Over St Petersburg Catholic
The St Stephens Falcons hosted the St Petersburg Catholic Barons Thursday afternoon in a 3A-5 match up with major implications within the district standings. The game saw multiple lead changes and the momentum swing freely. The game eventually ended up in extra innings where a passed ball with the bases loaded gave the Falcons the 8-7 walk-off win.
“I was very proud of my kids tonight,” said Falcons Manager Scott Sauerbeck. “We are very young and I told them their playoffs started today and it was time to ramp it up. I expected them to compete like it was a playoff game and earn the three seed in our district, which would set up extremely well to advance into regionals out of our district in the tournament coming up.”
The Falcons (10-11, 6-7) started the scoring in the first with an RBI single from Sam O’Dell. Jake Westberry added to the lead later in the inning when an error allowed him to score from third.
The Barons (10-10, 8-7) quickly battled back by tying the game in the second. A sacrifice from Tyler Sines scored Dylan Alagood from third and moved Justin Hanson to third. Hanson came around to score the tying run on an error during the next at-bat. The go-ahead run was scored in the fourth by Michael Novak.
A bunt single from JT Lund tied the game again for the Falcons when Max Manning came around to score. But in the very next inning, a costly error and a sacrifice fly from Nick Rundle scored three runs to give the Barons a 6-3 lead heading into the sixth.
Now facing a three-run deficit, the young Falcons remained focused. With two men on and no outs a routine fly ball turned into a disaster for the Barons as an error was committed, allowing O’Dell and Westberry to score. An RBI single from Ben Tobio tied the game and then Ben Thoma came around to score the go-ahead run to give the Falcons a 7-6 lead.
Lawrence Hamilton’s lead-off triple eventually led to the game being tied again, as Hamilton came home on a wild pitch during the next at-bat to send the game to extra innings. In the bottom of the eighth, with the bases loaded, Lund scored the winning run on a wild pitch charged to the Barons.
After taking the lead late and quickly surrendering it in the seventh, the Falcons needed to remain level-headed if they were going to come out on top.
“The lead-off triple was a blow,” said Sauerbeck. “But mentally it made the inning less tense with him crossing the plate right away rather than have a few guys on and have to fight to get out of the inning. Our kids realized all they had to do was scratch a run across and they could pull it off. The kids are young but they can play and they showed it today, and now they understand they can compete and play with any team in our district regardless of who it is.”