SURREY - So far this season it has been too little, too late for the Surrey-Our Redeemer's Christian School baseball team when its offense catches fire in the final two innings of a game.
The timing was perfect Friday, though, as the Mustangs scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh to force extras and four more in the eighth to win a walk-off 18-17 slugfest against Velva-Drake-Anamoose.
The Aggies took a three-run lead into the bottom of the eighth inning, but the Mustangs countered with a four-run frame on just one hit for their first Region 6 victory of the season. ORCS-Surrey freshman Seth Aberle recorded the game-winning at-bat when the third baseman erred on his throw to first, allowing freshman Jon Reiten and sophomore Noah Knipp to score the game-tying and game-winning runs.
Velva-Drake-Anamoose’s Alex Erickson dives back to first base ahead of Surrey-Our Redeemer’s sophomore Jacob Burckhard’s tag Friday at Surrey High School.
"It was nice to see," Knipp said of Aberle's hit. "He was hurt, his arm was hurting. He just pulled through for us and got a nice hit that kind of went wild, but whatever works."
Trailing 14-8 in the seventh, the Mustangs (2-3 overall, 1-2 region) loaded the bases with their first three batters. Three straight RBI singles by Knipp, sophomore Jacob Burckhard and eighth-grader Tyler Willis drew Surrey-ORCS to within three.
"We'd had pretty productive at-bats all day long so I'm not totally shocked we had people on base," Surrey-ORCS coach Bruce Mack said. "That just shows a little perserverance on our part."
Senior Chris Olson drew a bases-loaded walk and Burckhard scored on a wild pitch before sophomore Bridger Urban tied the game with an RBI groundout.
The Mustangs have made a living scoring runs late in games. In its first three region contests, Surrey-ORCS has scored 20 runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. The Mustangs have tallied nine runs in innings 1-5 during that same stretch.
V-D-A (5-1, 2-1) came out swinging in the top of the first. The Aggies put runners on second and third with no outs before back-to-back sacrifice flys to center field gave them a 2-0 lead. But the Mustangs countered with a two-run blast to left field by junior Brendan Larson on the first pitch he saw from V-D-A starting pitcher Derek Fahy. Larson's home run was the first for the Mustangs this season.
"We always go into every inning trying to score as many runs as we can and we always know we have a chance to put up big numbers," Larson said. "We're not surprised by it. It's become the norm to make it close in the end."
Surrey-ORCS exhibited some rare offense early in the game, plating five runs in the third for a 6-4 lead. Trevor Ringoen connected on a two-run double during the inning and an RBI triple in the fourth. The 6-foot left fielder finished 3-for-3, drawing a walk and a hit by pitch.
While the offense was solid with 38 combined hits, the defense was shaky. The Aggies committed two errors in the final inning, including the game-ender. The Aggies recorded three errors while the Mustangs tallied four. Surrey-ORCS didn't have an error in the final three innings.
"It's disappointing when you can put up 17 runs and end up losing, but that's baseball," V-D-A coach Matt Weidler said. "Guys did enough at the plate to win the game, but we didn't make the plays in the field we needed to and it cost us the game."
Knipp earned the victory for the Mustangs, pitching two-thirds of an inning. Urban tossed the first 5 1/3 and Ringoen the next two. The trio combined to strike out six Aggies.
"It's a big win, especially with the shortened season," Mack said. "Seeding in our tournament is important. If you can climb a seed higher I think that's huge right now."
Junior Brad Dean took the loss in one-third of an inning pitched. Dean was one of four pitchers used by Weidler.
Surrey-ORCS hosts Des-Lacs Burlington today at noon. V-D-A travels to Bishop Ryan at 4 p.m. Monday.