By the time the bottom of the ninth inning rolled around, Bryan had already survived a few close calls against Montpelier.
The Golden Bears tied the game with no one on and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, and gave away a one-run lead in the top of the seventh.
In extra innings, though, there would be no close calls for Bryan. Quinn Brown hit a single through the right side of the infield to score Noah Tressler, as Bryan’s ACME team beat Montpelier 5-4 in nine innings Friday at Sumpter Field.
“It’s a huge win, to comeback and win, and fight, when you’re missing a lot of your players and your top guys aren’t pitching and everything else,” Bryan coach Doug Williamson said. “It shows your team is here to fight. For what we had, they did a great job.”
Even though Bryan (14-1) earned the win, it wasn’t without heart-stopping action.
Montpelier’s Blake Altaffer blasted a two RBI double to the left field wall in the top of the seventh, with the bases loaded, and one out to give Montpelier a 4-3 lead headed to the bottom half.
After Altaffer struck out the first two batters of the inning, a bloop single from Brooks Brown and an error in the field let Brown score to tie the game at four. That was the last gasp for the Locos, who didn’t have a hit in either the eighth or ninth innings.
Even though he earned a no-decision, Altaffer was the star of the game for Montpelier. He went 1-for-3 at the plate with a hit by pitch and the two crucial RBIs. But his biggest impact was on the mound, where he threw seven innings, allowed eight hits and struck out nine.
“Phenomenal,” Montpelier coach Tim Sanders said of Altaffer’s performance. “He kept his pitch counts low, he got through them and we got the outs.”
Still, it was the errors which doomed Montpelier as it committed three errors (one apiece) in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Bryan scored in each inning.
“Our bats were around today and we were hitting the ball well off them,” Sanders said. “Defense played 90 percent well, just a couple mistakes or we’re walking out of here in seven with a win.”
Early on, though, Montpelier had a tight grip on the game.
The Locos scored two runs in the second inning off three hits and carried the lead into the fourth inning, with Altaffer dealing on the bump. But the offense dried up and the Bears were able to mount a comeback.
Brooks Brown got the start for Bryan and threw five innings of four-hit ball, allowing just the two runs.
“The kid I started tonight hasn’t pitched in, gosh, four or five years,” Williamson said. “He hung in there, I can’t say anything bad about him, he fought for (five) innings. He did a good job.”
Bryan had a run an inning from the fourth to the seventh, then the game-winning run in the ninth.
Dom James had a two-RBI night and Quinn Brown had two singles, including the game-winner,
“Our bats were quiet, we didn’t come out hitting the ball like we should,” Williamson said. “Their pitcher did a good job, too. He did his curveball and his fastball well, kept us off-balance that way.”
The game was a nice tune-up for both sides as they prepare for the ACME Sectional Tournament, which is set to start in less than a week.
“For what they had to do, I thought we did well,” Williamson said. “We’re missing a lot of guys. That’s not an excuse, other guys have to step up and play, but it’s just the way it was.”