Raiders, Montrose battle into extra innings
BY HEIDI ZENEFSKI
An epic division battle on the diamond between Montrose and Blue Ridge lasted over three hours and went 10 innings on Saturday, April 12.
Montrose came to bat first and faced off against freshman Raider pitcher, Jacob Decker. The first inning was three up and three down as the first three batters all hit the ball, but catches were made by the Blue Ridge defense and no Meteors were able to get on base.
The Raiders faced junior pitcher Kyle Watkins. Curtis Mills hit a double, followed by a single from Adam Collins to get two runners on base for Blue Ridge. Trey Hillard knocked out a single, allowing both Mills and Collins to score and notching two RBI’s. The second inning started well for Montrose with Matt Benninger hitting a double on a full count. Will Ferrill was thrown out running to first base after a hit, but earned an RBI as Benninger ran home, scoring the first run for the Meteors. A single was hit by Andreas Mittmann and he quickly stole second base. An error by Blue Ridge second baseman, Kalieb Scheideler, allowed Mittmann to get to third base, but he was unable to score as Decker struck out Nick Henry for the third out.
The score held through the fourth inning until Montrose’s Nick Henry posted a single and moved to second on a steal. Decker logged his fourth strike-out for the Raiders. But the top of Montrose’s batting order was able to gain some ground against the freshman pitcher. Matt Simonds hit a double and Henry scored. A wild pitch advanced Simonds to third base and Watkins was thrown out at first ebut sent Simonds across the plate for Montrose.
Matt Lewis and Benninger posted singles in the inning, and Lewis scored before the Meteors’ third out.
Decker faced off in the batter’s box against his pitching counterpart Watkins and hit a double.
Vanness was then sent to the mound for Montrose. Decker scored on a sacrifice hit by Mills.
Down by one, Blue Ridge stopped Montrose from getting a man on base in the 6th inning.
Scheideler doubled; and Jordan Goff then made it to first on an error. The 6th inning ended with Blue Ridge and Montrose in a 4-4 tie.
With the score holding through the 7th, the game entered extra innings. The tie held through the bottom of the ninth – and although there were no scores, there was a bit of everything else: wild pitches, errors, stolen bases, strike outs, and even an intentional walk of Watkins by Blue Ridge, but no runs were scored.
In the 10th inning, Decker was done pitching for Blue Ridge – having pitched all of the first nine innings. He threw 131 pitches, had eight strike-outs and two walks.
Matt Laubach replaced Decker on the mound. Benninger doubled into center field for Montrose; Vanness doubled, sending Benniger home and breaking the tie.
Ferrill hit one to centerfield, and Venness scored for the Meteors.
Montrose’s Benniger had taken over pitching duties in the middle of the ninth inning and continued into the tenth. Goff stepped up to the plate for the Raiders and hit the ball, but was thrown out at first base. Evan Aldrich stepped up next and hit a single. A wild pitch by Benninger advanced him to second. Benninger walked the next batter, Derrick Stento. Another Benninger wild pitch advanced the Raider runners to second and third.
Laubach reached first base for the Raiders on an error from Montrose second baseman Henry and then stole second base and Aldrich scored bringing the Raiders within one run of the Meteors.
With Stento on third Blue Ridge Coach Billy Marvin put in a pinch runner, Nick Folk, to try to score the tying run.
Montrose Coach Ryan Soden put Chris Lee on the mound to face BR’s Decker who struck out for the second out. Lee intentionally walked Mills, loading the bases for Blue Ridge. Collins came to bat for the Raiders and hit a single to third base. Mittman grabbed the ball and tagged third base before Laubach could get there and got the final out of the game.
At the end of 10 innings that took three hours and ten minutes, Montrose defeated Blue Ridge by a score of 6-5.
Coach Ryan Soden said he was proud of how his team played. “They played with heart and showed pride and character.”