Hilltoppers edge Chase in extras
It was a game befitting two county rivals. R-S Central bolted to a quick 6-0 lead, but Chase kept chipping away and finally tied the game 8-8 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings. Dustin McEntire then scored the winning run in the eighth to give the Hilltoppers a 9-8 win on the third day of the 2013 East Rutherford Easter Tournament.
“We did not play very well, but I’m proud of the way we held on to win,” said Central coach Chadd Fowler. “Give Chase credit, they battled hard and came back on us. It was just a good game by both teams.”
“We talked about competing before the game and we did that,” said Chase coach Matt Tipton. “Even though we lost, if we keep doing things the right way, the wins will come.”
R-S got on the board in the top of the first off Chase pitcher Tyler Kuykendall. Will Owens singled and took second on an error. Lance Greene and Dustin McEntire followed with back-to-back doubles to give the Hilltoppers an early 1-0 lead.
Chase tried to capture some two-out lightning of their own as Aaron Ballinger tripled to the left-centerfield gap. Conner Dailey recovered and left Ballinger stranded by striking out Caleb Lancaster to end the inning.
After Chase worked around a pair of base runners in the second, Dailey made quick work of the Trojans in the bottom half, retiring the side on just seven pitches.
Central broke the game open in their next at bat, sending 10 men to the plate while scoring five runs including a two-run double by Greene. R-S then loaded the bases and Garen Murray forced home a run with a walk.
Joel McDaniel followed with another two run double to push the lead to 6-0.
Chase cut that lead in half, however, stringing together four straight two-out hits. Ballinger drove home the first run with an infield single before Lancaster snuck a two-run single down the third base line to cut the deficit to 6-3.
Central got one of those runs back in the fourth thanks to a Chase miscue. They were poised to add to their lead, but catcher Avery Holler made a diving catch on a foul pall to strand runners on the corners.
One again Chase found their way back into contention.
Geoffrey Rollins led off with a single and later scored on a hit by Robbie Evans. The teams continued their trend of trading runs when Tyler Morgan delivered a RBI sacrifice fly in the fifth to make the tally 8-4. The Hilltoppers made a bid for more, but Ballenger came on in relief and struck out Greene and McEntire to end the frame.
The bottom of the fifth was full of fireworks including lengthy arguments by both coaches and a straight steal of home by Ballinger. When the dust settled, The Trojans had once again pulled to within three runs at 8-5.
The score remained the same until the bottom of the seventh.
Josh Epley sliced a double down the right field line which chased Dailey off the mound. One out later, Epley scored on a wild pitch, but it was Rollins who came up with the big hit. He lined a two-run double past a diving Jacob Struble that tied the game at 8-8 and forced extra innings.
Central scored a run in the top of the eighth when McEntire crossed the plate on a failed pickoff attempt. The Trojans went quietly in the bottom half as Central secured the 9-8 win.
R-S now moves on to face Watauga at noon today while Chase plays Gaston Christian at 10 a.m.