LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY — A six-run inning, a nine-run inning, a number of disputed umpire calls — with a few of those overturned — and extra frames between rivals were needed.
Add in the cold, heavy drizzle and wind, and a Friday night at the ballpark for the fainthearted it was not.
Blayne Hoelscher’s RBI sacrifice fly for Rogers in the top of the ninth inning was the finishing touch in the Eagles’ 11-10 victory over Academy in a District 19-3A contest that 2 hours prior to the final out looked as though it was going to be over sooner rather than later.
The Bees (9-13, 4-4) rallied from an early 8-0 deficit and took a 10-8 lead in a wild nine-run fourth. Rogers (15-7, 8-1), though, tied it at 10 in the sixth before scratching across the eventual winning run in the ninth.
“A couple times, we got lackadaisical with our at-bats and we didn’t produce,” Rogers coach Nash Fares said. “But I have to commend my guys for continuing to fight the entire game and never giving up.”
Riley Dolgener picked up the win in relief, pitching three scoreless innings and stranding the potential tying run at second base in the bottom of the ninth. Left-handed starter Lucas Guzman struck out nine in six innings of work.
The Bees entered their half of the fourth down 8-1 but chipped it to 8-3 with Aric Hickman’s two-out, two-run single. Alex Hoffman followed with a base hit to put runners on first and second. Next up, Blaine Rowlett swung at strike three in the dirt — and confusion ensued.
Rowlett took off for first, which is the by-the-book play, and Hoelscher, Rogers’ catcher, began his duty of throwing to first for the force out. Fares said the umpire conveyed that the strikeout was just the second out of the inning, causing Hoelscher to hesitate.
“I have never seen that in my whole career,” Fares said.
After a discussion between the two umpires, Fares and Academy coach Garrett Vail, the play stood with Rowlett safe at first to extend the inning.
“I think the result of it was we finished the play and they did not, and we were rewarded,” Vail said.
The Bees proceeded to score seven more runs — Alex Lawton’s bases-loaded walk, back-to-back two-run singles by John Tomasek and Lane Ward, and a two-run double by Tyler Burnett — to grab a 10-8 advantage.
“It’s just focusing on hustling on and off the field and letting that hustle and playing hard take care of just baseball in general,” Vail said. “When you play hard, good things can happen for you.”
The Eagles tied it in the sixth with RBIs by Logan Hare and Dolgener, who drew a walk from reliever Tomasek to lead off the ninth that started the deciding rally.
There was little hint when the evening began that late theatrics would be necessary.
Rogers scored six runs off Hoffman during its first at-bat. RJ Cook had an RBI single, Dolgener’s bases-loaded double plated three more, and Rance Williams added an opposite field two-run homer to right to cap the Eagles’ ideal start.
Rogers tacked on a pair of unearned runs in the second before Hoffman settled in and eventually pitched into the sixth.
Lawton gave Academy its initial jolt with a solo home run in the third to make it 8-1.