OTTAWA —A day after letting a five-run lead get away from them in the late innings on the road at Geneseo, the Ottawa baseball team found itself in somewhat the same situation during Tuesday's Northern Illinois Big 12 West Division contest against the Maple Leafs at King Field.
The Pirates held a five-run advantage before the visitors scored three times in the sixth to tighten things up. However, relief pitcher James Lang came on to pitch out of a jam in that inning and then closed the door in the seventh to earn the save and preserve the victory for starter Ben Lundy in Ottawa's 7-5 triumph.
Lundy, after being touched for a pair of tallies in the first, settled in and kept the Maple Leafs off the scoreboard until the visitors plated the aforementioned three runs. In that time, though, the home team was able to tie the game in the second, take the lead with a three-run fourth, then add on two more insurance runs in the fifth. Lang, who entered the game with one out and runners on first and second in the sixth, induced a flyball which turned into a double play after the Geneseo runner was caught off second not tagging up.
He then worked around a walk and single in the seventh to wrap things up.
"Sometimes it isn't necessarily the big stats, but being efficient and executing in the right moments," said Ottawa coach Tom Hart. "I thought our pitchers did a great job of that today. James came in as our curveball specialist out of the pen and threw two quick curves, one for a called strike and one to get a double play. Ben did a good job of commanding his outside corner fastball and kept his offspeed pitches down in the strike zone. It was nice to see a good outing from him."
Geneseo (7-15, 2-8) took the early lead, as Colton Garcia leadoff the game with a walk and scored on Kyle Wise's double off the right-center field fence. Then after Lundy recorded back-to-back strikeouts, Jake Winslow drove in Wise with the first of his four hits on the day to make it 2-0.
Ottawa (10-13, 3-5) tied things up in the second, as Brandon Sauvegeau reached on Maple Leafs starting and losing pitcher Payton Clauson's error and scored on Lundy's triple to the left-center field gap. Ryan Wendt scored Lundy with a sacrifice fly — the first of his four RBIs — to knot it at 2-2.
The Pirates took the lead for good in the fourth. Sauvegeau and Lundy started the frame with walks before Kadon Harth's RBI double preceded Wendt's two-run single to center to put the hosts ahead 5-2.
Ottawa tacked on two in the fifth off of relief pitcher Winslow, the first with Jared Herzog drawing a walk, stealing second and scoring on a single by Sauvegeau. Then, after consecutive walks to Lundy and Harth loaded the bases, Wendt was hit by a pitch to score Sauvegeau for the Pirates' seventh run.
The Maple Leafs began the sixth with a Winslow single, a walk to Cole Hartman and a run-scoring double off the bat of Jacob McConnell. Lundy was lifted in favor of Sauvegeau because of pitch count after pinch hitter Erik Stenzel's RBI groundout. No. 9 hitter Parker Magness greeted the Pirates reliever with an RBI double to cut it to 7-5. Following a walk, Lang entered the game, and his second pitch to Wise was lined to Logan Cheatham in left field, who threw to second for the double play.
"That double play in the sixth really hurt us," said Geneseo coach Scott Christensen. "We are both kind of in the same boat record-wise, and I thought both teams hit the ball well today, but Ottawa just did a little better job. Last week we were no-hit and one-hit in games, so even though the outcome wasn't what we wanted today, it was nice to see our bats come alive a little.
"We competed to the end, so I was happy with the way we played."
"We have addressed it," Hart said of his club giving up late leads this season. "Getting through adverse moments is how we get out of our comfort zone and grow. It was a big deal to close things out today.
"It was a good team win."
At King Field, Ottawa
Ottawa 7, Geneseo 5
GENESEO (5) — Garcia ss 2-1-0-0, Wise rf/1b 4-1-2-1, Rivera 3b 4-0-0-0, Moser dh 4-0-1-0, Clauson p/3b 0-0-0-0, Winslow 1b/p 4-0-4-1, Olson cr 0-1-0-0, Hartman 2b 2-1-0-0, McConnell cf 4-1-2-1, Green lf 2-0-0-0, Stenzel ph 1-0-0-1, Magness c 3-0-1-1, Johnson cr 0-0-0-0, Toone c 0-0-0-0. Totals 30-5-10-5.
OTTAWA (7) — Hill ss 4-0-0-0, Weitzel 2b/3b 4-0-1-0, Herzog cf 3-1-2-0, Cheatham lf 4-0-0-0, Sauvegeau 1b/p 3-3-1-1, Lundy p/2b 1-2-1-1, Harth dh 1-1-1-1, Stevenson 3b 0-0-0-0, Lang cr/p 0-0-0-0, Wendt rf 1-0-1-4, Mezel c 3-0-1-0. Totals 24-7-8-7.
Geneseo (7-15, 2-8) 200 003 0 — 5 10 1
Ottawa (10-13, 3-5) 020 320 x — 7 8 1
DPT — Geneseo 2, Ottawa 2. LOB — Geneseo 8, Ottawa 7. 2B — Wise, McConnell, Magness, Herzog, Harth. 3B — McConnell, Lundy. SF — Wendt. SB — Johnson, Herzog, Cheatham, Sauvegeau 2, Wendt. HBP — Wendt (by Winslow).
Geneseo ip r er h bb k
Clauson (L) 3.1 5 5 6 3 1
Winslow 2.2 2 2 2 3 2
Lundy (W) 5.1 5 5 8 2 4
Sauvegeau 0.0 0 0 1 1 0
Lang (S) 1.2 0 0 1 1 0