By Zack Farmer
Late-inning theatrics have been a common theme for the International High School baseball team this season, so it was fitting that the Bay Counties League Central championship game came down to a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Top-seeded Pescadero got the tying run on to load the bases in the seventh, but unlike games past, International was able to hold on for the 7-4 win and successfully defend its BCL Central title on Friday at Big Rec.
In the seventh, International pitcher Maxwell Drolet loaded the bases with two walks and an error, but got Jovany Arias to pop up into foul territory on the first-base side of the field, where first baseman Aidan
Echols made the catch to record the second out of the inning.
As the ball was in the air, the runner at first base took off for second, was unable to get back to first in time and was forced out to end the game.
“Well, unfortunately – or maybe fortunately – we’ve been in that position many, many times this year,” said International head coach Guy Tucker. “We like to have a hard time closing things out. While it hurt all those previous times, I think it helped us this time. [It] helped us calm down and take care of business.”
International (10-12) tacked on an insurance run in the top half of the seventh inning, but the team knew from prior experience that no lead was safe.
“Toward the beginning of that inning I was feeling pretty good since we were up by three,” said International junior Devin Conroy. “I got pretty nervous when he walked to get the bases loaded . . . We have a history of falling apart in the last inning.”
International, the league’s No. 2 seed, had lost its two regular-season matchups with Pescadero (14-6), but was feeling much better about its chances after beating Waldorf 8-1 in the semifinals.
“This one we were ready [for], especially after that Waldorf game,” Conroy said.
With International holding a 6-2 lead in the sixth, the Pescedero offense began to come alive with help from International pitcher Jordan Malik.
Malik retired the first two batters of the inning, but got himself into trouble, as he loaded the bases with a pair of walks and a single.
Pescadero got back into the scoring column with a single to right field by Connor White, which scored Arias and Garrett Kern.
The Vikings were playing catch-up most of the afternoon and put themselves in that position.
With the Vikings up 2-1 in the second inning, International took advantage of three errors, two walks, and a balk by Pescadero to score three times and take a 4-2 lead.
“We try to be very aggressive on offense and in this league teams can generally hit and pitch pretty well, but there are some weaknesses defensively, so we like to really keep the pressure up,” Tucker said.
Back-to-back triples in the fifth from Noah Morton and Conroy followed by a wild pitch plated both of them, extending the International lead to 6-2.
I – Griffin Wurzelbacher scores on a wild pitch
P – Nick Curran doubles, Connor White scores
P – Josh Morrell singles, Curran scores
I – Jordan Malik walks, Dash Cuevas scores
I – Noah Morton hits a sacrifice fly, Aidan Echols scores
I – Wurzelbacher scores on error
I – Devin Conroy triples, Morton scores
I – Conroy scores on a wild pitch
P – White singles, Jovany Arias and Garrett Kern score
I – Maxwell Drolet sacrifice bunt, Morton scores