For a good chunk of Monday night’s game between Edon and Hilltop, there wasn’t a competitive game to speak of.
But after momentum swings in which Hilltop rallied from seven and three runs down, Edon found itself down by one entering the bottom of the seventh inning.
It didn’t take long, though, for Edon to prevent Hilltop’s epic comeback win. Austin Kiess led the inning with a triple, then Connor Skiles doubled him home to tie the game. Then, with the bases loaded, Cole Vasquez drew a walk to seal a wild 10-9 win in the loser’s bracket of the Williams County ACME Sectional Tournament at Sumpter Field.
“Obviously that wasn’t a pretty win at all, by any means,” Edon coach Preston Klingler said. “But a win is a win, and we get right back to it tomorrow.”
For a while, though, Edon cruised through the game with style.
It scored five runs in the first inning — aided by some Hilltop errors — off of Hilltop pitcher Kaiden Clendenin, who threw a 79-pitch game just an hour prior in a 4-2 win over Edgerton. Clendenin pitched into the third inning, but the Cadets trailed 5-0 when he left the game.
The score rose to 7-0 after the Bombers tacked on two in the fourth inning as the game looked out of reach.
But Hilltop, facing elimination, rose to the occasion and scored six runs in the fifth inning, four of which came with two outs in the inning.
“We were moping around, hanging in there, and I went, ‘Look, all we’ve got to do is put up seven here,’” Hilltop coach Isaac VanArsdalen said light-heartedly. “Sure as can be, we put up six runs. It was a big inning, big momentum change. We got some life in them.”
With Clendenin unable to pitch any further, and Jay Garrett unavailable, the Cadets had to dip deep into the well to send someone out on the mound.
“I pitched our centerfielder, Ethan (Varney), who has not played in a long time,” VanArsdalen said. “I went to our second baseman, Andyn Haynes, who does a wonderful job at hitting zone. (Then) I threw in Griffin McEwen who hasn’t played since the seventh grade. I can’t ask for anything else. Kids that have hardly ever thrown off the mound before give us a chance.”
The Bombers took some momentum back in the sixth with two runs of their own to extend the lead to 9-6 after the sixth inning.
The Cadets answered with a fury in the seventh, however, and batted around on four runs to give them their first lead of the evening.
“They wanted it,” VanArsdalen said. “I can’t question any effort any of these kids give. I’m honestly on Cloud Nine. They’ve could’ve very easily packed it up and went home after it was 5-0 in the first inning. We made it a ballgame. We could’ve very easily gotten run-ruled and been done in the fifth inning.”
The Bombers, though, had too much offense as Kiess and Skiles were able to get the ball rolling to give Edon, and not Hilltop as it appeared moments before, a comeback win.
“We told them going into that seventh inning, ‘Seniors, it’s on you. Take charge, do what you’re supposed to do,’” Klingler recalled. “And they definitely did.”
Edon will face Bryan tomorrow in the sectional final, where it will need two wins to take home a sectional championship. The Bombers will be restricted on how many pitchers they can use and how many pitches they can throw, but they’ll be ready for a Bryan team that hasn’t lost in the tournament yet.
“We’ve got a couple guys,” Klingler said. “We used a lot of guys we didn’t want to have to use tonight, so we’re going to be limited on pitching. But we’re going to go out there and give it all we got.”
Regardless of today’s result, though, as a top two team in the sectional tournament, the Bombers have clinched a berth in this weekend’s district tournament.