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Stilly Rapids walk right past Lake Stevens in Double A Legion ball
ARLINGTON A tightly contested baseball game between the Stilly Valley Rapids and Lake Stevens went into extra innings before the Rapids clinched victory on the strength of a Tony Geist walk. Geists patience at the plate with the bases loaded pushed across the winning run to give Stilly the 7-6 win.
The June 21 game see-sawed back and forth in the early innings. In the bottom of half of the first inning, Jesse Etchey walked and advanced to third on a botched pick off attempt. He scored on a Josh Spears ground ball to give Stilly the early 1-0 advantage.
Stilly mounted another threat after a walk to Jerod Baker. Baker stole second base and attempted to score on a Cory Moore single. As Baker rounded third base he realized his baserunning gaffe as the ball thrown from the Lake Stevens outfield was cut off by their shortstop. Baker hesitated and raced back toward third base as the shortstop tossed the ball in behind him.
With Baker caught in a run-down, Moore casually strolled over to second base, putting himself in scoring position. Baker charged home as the Lake Stevens third baseman took off after him. The third baseman fired home and the catcher, now holding the ball, took off after Baker in the opposite direction. Luckily for Baker, the third baseman failed to clear the basepath and wound up being an obstacle to Bakers hasty retreat. The field umpire ruled Baker safe at third due to the obstruction as the Lake Stevens coaching staff looked mystified.
With runners on second and third base and two outs, Stilly had a chance to break the game wide open. Justin Surber dug his spikes into the batters box and wiggled the bat. He took a cut on a 2-2 fastball and sent a lined shot towards the hole between shortstop and third base. Unfortunately the Lake Stevens shortstop made a phenomenal diving catch, barely snaring the baseball in the tip of his glove and saving a certain two runs. The defensive heroics ended Stillys inning.
Lake Stevens quickly retaliated with an RBI single in the top of the second to even the score 1-1 and pushed ahead in the third inning behind a double and an error on Stillys infield. Stilly actually escaped relatively unharmed. With nobody out, Lake Stevens clean up hitter popped a high fly to the right of home plate. Pitcher Jesse Etchey was waived off by catcher Jerod Baker who broke late on the ball and made a spectacular diving catch. It would not be the only impressive defensive display by the Rapids in the inning. Trailing 2-1 and with runners on first and second base, Stilly found themselves in a tough spot, but a fine snag of a hard ground ball by shortstop Justin Surber put an end to the threat. Surber touched second base ahead of the Lake Stevens runner for the third out of the inning.
The fine defense sparked the Rapids bats. Tony Geist singled to open the bottom half of the third inning. Josh Spears ripped a triple behind him, scoring Geist. Jerod Baker followed with a well hit double to score Spears. Cory Moore laced a single into left field to plate Baker putting Stilly ahead 5-2.
But Lake Stevens refused to die. They put together three runs between the fifth and sixth inning and tied things back up 5-5. Kyle Ayres came on in relief for Stilly and did an excellent job shutting down the Lake Stevens rally. In the seventh inning, Ayres struck out the side but Stilly could not work out a way to score and the score stayed 5-5 headed toward extra frames.
In the top half of the eighth inning, Lake Stevens scored to inch ahead 6-5. A clearly disappointed Rapids nine took to the dugout for their final at-bat. The Rapids lost two days prior to Lake Stevens after conceding a four run seventh inning and this would have been another bitter pill to swallow. But Cory Moore walked to start things off and give Stilly hope. Justin Surber attempted a sacrifice bunt but the Lake Stevens pitcher fielded it cleanly and got the lead runner at second base. Then the Lake Stevens pitching staff fell apart. Walks to Jeff Huge and Chris Wenland loaded the bases and Jesse Etchey notched a pivotal RBI walk to knot the score 6-6. Tony Geist then strode to the plate and stared down the Lake Stevens hurler. Geist watched as four pitches sailed wide of the strike zone, giving the Rapids a 7-6 victory.
I wanted to crowd the plate, said Geist, I was hoping to get him to hit me with an inside pitch. I was taking deep breaths.
Jesse Etchey felt similarly calm stepping into the pressure cooker.
My key is to stay relaxed. I was fine with anything except a ground out. Just staying patient up there is important.
Coach Colby Knudson was pleased with his teams effort on the night.
We played some solid defense and we got hits when we needed to. Were finally finding a way to win. This is our fourth extra inning game and our first victory of the four.