AC three-run seventh stuns Jay County
MONROE— The wind was not the craziest part of AC's baseball contest hosting Jay County as the game also featured two hit batsmen that were not awarded first base because the official did not see the contact, three ground-rule doubles that slipped through the fence at almost the exact same spot, an offensive struggle that saw 20 base-runners stranded by both teams, and a three-run seventh inning for AC to come from behind and defeat the Patriots, 4-3 at the Hangar on Monday night.
In a game that featured 10 hits by the Jets, they did not cross the plate until the sixth inning to make the score 3-1 at that point.
Jay County scored a run in the top of the second when the Patriots' third-baseman Houston singled, then moved to third on a passed ball and finally scored on a McBride single. AC's Isaac Soldner would strikeout the next batter and get the Pats lead-off man to fly out to third to end the damage at just one run.
There would be no further scoring until the top of the sixth when two sharply hit balls in a row were sent to second base taking two separate wild hops on sophomore Hayden Black to put runners at first and second.
Both runs would eventually score, one on a ground-rule double to right-center, and then another when center-fielder Warren Burkhart charged a line drive and missed a diving catch. Jay County's Fuller would score from third, but Burkhart would make a heady play and get the force out at second. Soldner would then get out of the bases-loaded jam without any further damage by getting Huntsman to ground out to third.
Jay County would not score again.
The Jets would plate pinch-runner Ben Pfister on a Cooper Hill fielder's choice in the bottom of the sixth to put AC on the board. The Jets missed a golden opportunity to keep the rally alive with two outs and the bases loaded to keep the score at 3-1.
Soldner, after a rocky sixth, seemed to have a second wind as he set down two Patriots to start the seventh, then struck out a third, but the pitch got away from catcher Kyle Baker and the Patriots' DH advanced to first. The next batter would pop out to short, however and the Jets would get one last shot at scoring.
In the seventh, Soldner helped his own cause by reaching on an error by the second baseman. Senior Landon Brunner, who had struck out the two previous at-bats, came through for the Jets in the clutch with a huge triple to right-center plating Soldner and inching the Jets closer with only one out and the game, 3-2. Brunner would score two pitches later on a wild pitch to tie the game at three apiece.
The next Jets' batter, senior Will Schultz, would get his second consecutive hit of the game with a towering ground-rule double that appeared to clear the fence. After much speculation from the officiating crew, it was ruled that the ball had bounced over the fence and the AC celebration was put on hold.
After a pitching change, Isaac Luginbill was intentionally walked to put a force on the bases with no outs. After a Hill strikeout, Baker would come to the plate. Just two days prior, Baker had a walk-off single to beat Monroe Central in the seventh inning, but the sophomore would find his poise and take a full-count walk to load the bases for Burkhart.
On Burkhart's second pitch, he drove the ball up the middle completing the Jets comeback.
"I feel like we were really led by our seniors today between Warren's game-winner, Brunner's triple, and Will's big hits. I can't really take anything away from Isaac Soldner, either. He pitched a terrific game in the wind for seven innings," praised AC coach Dave Neuenschwander.
The Jets earn their third win in a row decided by only one run after a gruelling week in their schedule.
"We played five games last week and four in a row after the double-header," noted coach Neuenschwander. "I give all the credit in the world to these guys when they keep coming out and fighting till the end."
AC got two-hit games from Burkhart, Schultz, and Brunner, with Dalton Combs getting a double and Hill beating out a triple for the Jets as well. Despite the win, AC left 13 men on base and had many chances to close the game out before the seventh.
"It took us seven innings to get the big hit," stated coach Dave Neuenschwander. "In the seventh inning we came together and I told them that this is a team game and we need to pick each other up."
AC, now 8-4, will travel to Woodlan tonight to play the Warriors in an ACAC battle starting at 5 p.m.