A good, fun game
ATHENS — Both Warren and Athens squandered scoring opportunities before Wednesday’s night’s D2 district final went into extra innings at OU’s Bob Wren Stadium.
By my calculations, the Warriors (19-8) and Bulldogs (21-6) each left eight runners in scoring position (RISP) in the contest, which was won by AHS, 5-4 in 9.
Thing is, it could’ve easily been the Warriors advancing to the regional. That’s how evenly-matched these two high school baseball teams were.
Here’s what happened in a nutshell.
In the top of the first, WHS stranded a baserunner at third with two outs, But in the bottom half of the frame, AHS did the same when it got one to second but couldn’t bring him in.
Warren plated a two-out run in the second, but could’ve had more with runners at third and second.
Athens loaded up the bases in the bottom of the second but only scored once on a fielder’s choice.
With one out in the third, two Bulldogs walked but went nowhere.
The Warriors regained the advantage, 2-1, with one out in the fourth but stranded two baserunners.
Warren had a rough fifth inning when Athens stroked three straight hits and scored a run. The go-ahead run (3-2) then scored on a fielder’s choice. The Dogs would’ve liked to have had more but ended up leaving two on base.
The following frame, the Warriors got a runner to second with one out, but…nothing doing.
The Dogs, up a run, got the leadoff man on in their at-bats, and he was able to get to second — but no further.
Warren was one out away from being beat in the seventh until Brett Gandee delivered a clutch RBI hit. The Warriors then threatened to take the lead, but finished the inning with the sacks filled.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Bulldogs had runners on third and second, courtesy of a wild pitch, but..they came up empty, and the game went into extra innings.
In the eighth, the Warriors were retired in order for the first time in the game, while the Dogs got a runner on first, and that’s all.
Warren took a 4-3 lead on another clutch single by Gandee in the ninth. The Warriors could’ve used an insurance run but finished the inning with runners at second and first.
The Warriors were 3 outs away from a district title, and reliever Drew Huffman got the first one on a strikeout. But then he gave up a single and issued two free passes. Bases filled with one out.
Huffman got out number 2 also on a strikeout.
Athens was down to its last out and pinning all its hopes on the number 9 batter in the order, Peyton Gail.
Well…y’all know the rest of the story as Gail delivered a big hit that plated both the tying and winning runs.
Despite not being “the last man standing,” Warren skipper Ryan Lemley was upbeat in the aftermath.
“Good game and a lot of fun,” he said.
That it was, Skip. That it was.
Ron Johnston is a Marietta Times sports writer, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org