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Stilly Rapids Single A Legion splits doubleheader against Oak Harbor
ARLINGTON Game one of the June 23 doubleheader with Oak Harbor went the Rapids way as they took nine innings to complete the 7-6 victory.
Jake Stalkfleet opened on the mound for the Rapids. Stalkfleet gave up three Oak Harbor runs in three innings while the Stilly bats were relatively quiet during his tenure.
Only once did Stilly threaten in the first three innings, as they loaded the bases with one out in the third inning. Casey Corcoran singled to get things started for the home side. Dillon Jorgensen then singled two batters later to put runners on first and second base with one out. A walk to Carson Zednick loaded the bags up for the heart of the Rapids order but nobody came up with a key run-scoring hit. Only a wild pitch from the Oak Harbor hurler allowed Corcoran to score from third base to make the score 3-1.
The Stilly bats began to wake up in the fourth inning. Shortstop Garth Rose roped a lead-off double and Scott Harnden walked to put two runners on with no outs. Kyle Hammon smacked an RBI single to score Rose. That would be all for the Rapids in the frame as they still trailed 3-2.
After a scoreless fifth inning for both sides, Stilly got going again in the sixth. Casey Corcoran reached on a passed ball charged to the Oak Harbor catcher following a swinging third strike. Tyler Wendland attempted to bunt him to second base but wound up with a bunt single instead. The hustling Wendland beat a throw to first on the play as Corcoran made it to second base easily. Carson Zednick smoked a single into shallow left field hard enough that Corcoran was forced to stop at third base. With the bases loaded and only one out, Marcus McKenzie drew a walk to level the score at 3-3. Jake Stalkfleet then popped out to second base bringing up a pivotal Garth Rose at-bat. Rose came to the plate and put another stamp on his big night by lining a double over the head of a chasing left fielder. Both Wendland and Zednick came racing around to score on the play as Rose coasted into second base standing up. The blast put Stilly ahead 5-3 and they got another run gifted to them as a wild pitch allowed McKenzie to score from third base.
Taking a 6-3 lead into the last inning, the Rapids looked to be in good shape. But some clutch hitting from Oak Harbor brought the visitors back into contention and a one out RBI double tied things up 6-6.
In the bottom half of the seventh inning the Rapids showed no signs of disappointment from losing their big lead. Kyle Hammon opened up with a double to left field. Casey Corcoran bunted him over to third base, prime scoring location. Tyler Wendland then hit a low line drive, sinking into the grass of left field. The ball looked to be a sure single, easily scoring the winning run. But a hustling left fielder bolted inward on it and made a leap to snare the ball. As he tumbled headfirst into the grass one umpire ruled the play a catch while the other ruled it a trap. A confused Hammon did not know whether to run home or stay on third base.
After a meeting between the umpires, the ball was declared a hit but Hammon was returned to third base and Wendland told to remain at first. The costly mix up cost Stilly their certain winning run, though it still left them with runners on the corners and only one out. Unfortunately, they could not push across the winning run. Oak Harbors reliever induced to pop fly outs and the inning was over for the Rapids.
Nobody threatened in the eighth inning and it wasnt until the ninth that Stilly mounted another charge. Again doing the damage was second baseman Casey Corcoran who managed to get plunked by a pitch, advance to second on a ground ball, and then score on consecutive wild pitches. Corcorans run gave Stilly a leg up headed into the second game of the day.
As far as the umpiring was concerned, Smith calmly rationalized the situation at the end of the game.
All we can do is control ourselves. We have no control over any call the umpires make, but only in how we respond to their decisions. We did not let it affect our heads and you can see we won anyway.
His players stepped up numerous times, particularly Garth Rose.
Garth had an incredible day, stated Smith, it was a special day all-around for him. Hes a really good, really tough player.
Rose himself seemed pleased with his performance.
Ive been taking extra swings at my house, really focusing on driving the ball.
Rapids 0 0 1 1 0 4 0 7
Oak Harbor 1 1 1 0 0 0 3 6
ARLINGTON Game two of the day between Stilly and Oak Harbor would not go as well for the Rapids. After a short lunch break, players returned to the field and the teams commenced playing again. Oak Harbor got a stellar pitching performance from J.D. Wilcox who struck out 12 Rapids on his way to a complete game 3-1 victory. Wilcox also benefited from several impressive plays in the field from his defense and Stilly wasted a tremendous pitching performance in relief from Tucker DeGraffenried
With Stilly playing the role of visiting team in the game, they swung the bats first. Carson Zednick got drilled in the back with a fastball to start the game and hobbled down to first base. After a strikeout, Tim Hancock came to the plate and drilled a sharp ground ball towards center field. Unluckily for Hancock, the second baseman was shading him in that direction and made an easy scoop to start an inning ending double play. It was a sign of things to come for the Rapids.
Oak Harbor managed a run in the bottom half of the first to lead 1-0, but Stilly came right back in the second after another Garth Rose double. Rose moved to third base on a Seth Reiger single and scored on a deep fly out from Tyler Wendland.
That would be all for Stilly in the second inning, but they again put pressure on Oak Harbor in the third. Kyle Hammon walked and after Carson Zednick struck out Tucker DeGraffenried singled to put Hammon over on second base. Tim Hancock came up and smoked a liner directly back at the Oak Harbor pitcher Wilcox. Wilcox stuck his glove up to protect himself and somehow snared the drive, then wheeled to see that both runners had taken off on the play. Having his choice of outs, Wilcox flipped the ball to second base for the third out of the inning. A stunned Hancock was robbed for the second time in a row of a potential RBI basehit.
In the bottom half of the third inning, pitcher Seth Reiger found himself in a bit of trouble. After giving up a single and hitting a batter, Reiger gave up a RBI double to Oak Harbors clean up hitter. The double put runners on second and third base with one out. A balk charged to Reiger allowed the runner on third base to score and move the runner on second to third. After hitting another batter with a pitch, Reiger caught the runner on third using a crafty pick off move, to the great dismay of Oak Harbors coach. Rapids Coach Jeff Smith decided to bring in Tucker DeGraffenried in relief at that point and DeGraffenried did not disappoint, getting a crucial strikeout to end the inning and maintain the 3-1 score.
The rest of the game DeGraffenried dueled back and forth with Wilcox, neither giving an inch. As the pressure mounted, DeGraffenried struck out four of the final six batter he faced. Unfortunately for him, Wilcox was equally as impressive, ringing up strikeouts for seven of the final nine outs of the game. Stilly had to be content taking one of the two games as Oak Harbor held on for a 3-1 victory. DeGraffenried explained how he felt on the mound.
My arm was bothering me before the game. I tried to stick with it, throw strikes. I wanted them to put the bat on the ball.
His plan worked and his defense picked him up when he wasnt striking batters out. If not for a herculean performance from Wilcox, DeGraffenried would have been the hero of game two.
I was proud of us in the first game that we hung together in such a long game, said Rapids Coach Jeff Smith, Its easy to lose composure when games go to extra innings but the guys handled adversity well. In the second game, we saw an amazing pitching performance. Tucker did an excellent job coming in and shutting them down, but we could not get the runs we needed.
Stilly Rapids 0 1 0 0 0 1
Oak Harbor 1 0 2 0 0 3