29ers win in dramatic fashion
Caldwell County Post 29 rallied back from a 7-3 deficit to walk off in the bottom of the ninth with an 8-7 victory over Rutherford County Post 423 on Tuesday in Granite Falls.
“The greatest thing to come from tonight (Tuesday) is we played nine innings of baseball and never quit,” said Caldwell head coach Brandon Banks. “That’s something we preach to them all the time. Any time you play nine innings of baseball, you’re going to give yourself a chance to win.”
Post 29 (13-3 overall, 7-2 Area IV West) trailed 7-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth. With one out in the inning, Phillip Page was called on to pinch hit. Page delivered with a single up the middle and later advanced to second on a wild pitch with Nick Horning batting. Horning then hit an RBI single to score Page and tie the game at seven runs apiece. Horning advanced to second on the throw to home.
“That was big time,” Banks said of Page’s pinch-hitting single. “He’s such a competitor and a good team player. We have confidence in him and he has confidence in himself.”
This brought on a pitching change with Austin Miller coming to the plate. Miller was intentionally walked and AJ Watson also walked (unintentionally) to load the bases with John Austin stepping to the plate. Austin hit a ground ball to the shortstop, who threw to second for the second out and the throw to first for the double play to end the inning sailed over the first baseman’s head, allowing Austin to reach and Horning to score the winning run.
After Post 29 surrendered six runs through four innings, Luke Watts was called in to pitch in relief. Watts was spectacular, allowing just one earned run on one hit, while striking out seven in his five innings of work. He also did not allow a single base runner in any of the last three innings.
“Luke did a great job of keeping us where we needed to be” Banks said. “He had good stuff tonight and he gutted it out until the end. It was a very solid effort.”
Earlier in the game, Caldwell scored three runs in the first inning to take a 3-1 lead. Miller singled and Watson followed with a two-run home run to left field. Trevor Beane then singled and later scored on a Rutherford error.
The 29ers scored another run in the seventh to make the score 7-4. Zac Walker walked and Grayam Austin was hit by a pitch. A single by Colton Henthorne loaded the bases and Taylor Purus came in to pinch hit. Purus hit an RBI groundout to score Walker.
In the eighth inning, Miller scored on a Rutherford error and Watson scored on a sacrifice fly by Walker to pull within one, before Post 29 walked off with the win in the ninth.
Caldwell now has a few days off before traveling to Burke County on Saturday for a 7 p.m. game at Shuey Field in Morganton.