OTTAWA — To be able to lead a team with a resilient nature is an awfully good sign for any coach.
Ottawa baseball head man Tom Hart was privileged to witness that never-say-die attitude from his own ballclub Monday evening at King Field.
Trailing by 10 runs after two innings and seemingly dead in the water, the Pirates mounted a steady comeback, chipping away to tally three markers in each of the next three frames, four in the sixth and the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh to come away with an improbable and amazing 15-14 comeback victory over the Plano Reapers here at a frigid OHS.
Wyatt Hill's one-out, full-count, bases-loaded single to left scored pinch runner Bradley Ruger, which ended the game in regulation and completed the Pirates' incredible rally after what seemed like impending doom earlier in the contest.
"Coach (Hart) usually talks about us going up to the plate with a plan, but I'm not going to lie, I had no plan whatsoever," Hill said with a grin. "There was only one out, so I figured it wasn't going to come totally down to me. I just wanted to put it somewhere in the outfield, and I did that.
"It was a great rally by us, and I'm pretty proud of the way we hung in there today after being down by so much."
Before Hill's heroics, Ottawa (5-4) had to get plenty of support offensively from Ben Lundy and John Bruner who each collected three hits, as well as a pair from Drew Doerman and Jared Herzog. Matt Mezel also added a key hit late, while Ryan Wendt stroked a huge double and a sacrifice fly in the latter stages that left him with three RBIs on the night.
Nathan Weitzel (3.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 9 K) — pitching in his first varsity contest — came on in relief and recorded the win while helping hold down the Reapers after their incredible start.
"I think the key, as weird as it is to say this, is that out pitching kept us in this game, holding their run total to 11 for a long time after the second inning," Hart said. "We kept battling, believing, kept the ball in play, and good things happened.
"Credit to both teams for never giving up until the end on a very cold night, but our kids were incredibly resilient in this ballgame, no doubt."
Plano (3-7) scored 11 runs off Ottawa starter Herzog through the first two stanzas, although only three were earned after a couple of major Pirate miscues. It was an 11-1 Reaper lead going into the third inning.
"We had things where we wanted them to be after the first couple of innings, but I think we relaxed too much from there with a 10-run lead," said PHS coach John Parpet. "We had our No. 1 pitcher on the mound and should've won the game, but we didn't, and credit Ottawa for a great comeback."
The Pirates tagged Plano starter Bryson Schmidt with three runs in the third after RBI singles from Herzog and Bruner to cut the gap to 11-4. A trio of unearned tallies would follow in the fourth before three more plated in the fifth courtesy of another Plano error and a two-run double off the bat of Wendt that made the score 11-10 in the Reapers' favor.
Ottawa eventually went ahead 14-12 after six innings as Hill, Mezel and Wendt provided RBI at-bats, including Mezel's electrifying two-run double to left. Plano put up two in the top of the seventh to tie the score once again.
Hill, however, finished things off in style with the game-winner in the home half.
At King Field, Ottawa
Ottawa 15, Plano 14
PLANO (14) – Stevenson 2b 4-3-1-1, Cline 1b 4-2-2-0, Velazquez 3b 3-1-2-1, Schmidt p 4-0-0-1, Baltierrez ss 0-0-0-0, Johnson dh 5-1-1-2, Gonzalez rf/cf 5-2-3-1, Buis cf/p 2-3-1-1, Scott lf 5-1-1-2, Boutin c 3-1-0-0, Padilla cf 0-0-0-0. Totals 35-14-11-9.
OTTAWA (15) – Lundy ss 5-2-3-0, Cheatham lf 3-1-0-0, Ruger cr/pr 0-1-0-0, Doerman 1b 5-1-2-0, Herzog p/cf 3-1-2-2, Bruner 3b 5-1-3-1, Hill p/cf 3-1-2-2, Carson cf 0-0-0-0, Stevenson p 1-0-0-0, Weitzel p 2-2-1-0, Mezel c 3-0-1-2, Lang cr/pr 0-1-0-0, Wendt rf 1-3-1-3. Totals 33-15-15-10.
Plano (3-7) 290 001 2 – 14 11 4
Ottawa (5-4) 103 334 1 – 15 15 3
LOB – Plano 9; Ottawa 8. 2B – Cline, Velazquez, Lundy Hill, Weitzel, Wendt. 3B – Buis. SB – Cline, Gonzalez, Buis, Lundy, Stevenson. CS – Schmidt, Ruger. SAC – Velazquez, Cheatham. SF – Wendt. HBP – Stevenson, Velazquez, Buis ( by Weitzel), Mezel (by Schmidt).
Plano ip r er h bb k
Schmidt 4.2 10 7 10 2 4
Buis (L, 0-1) 1.2 5 5 5 3 2
Herzog 1.2 11 3 5 2
Stevenson 1.2 0 0 2 1 2
Weitzel (W, 1-0) 3.2 3 2 4 1 9
Game ended with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning.