PRINCETON — The Hall Red Devils squeezed out a victory against the rival Princeton Tigers by scoring eight runs in the top of the seventh to erase a five run deficit and take home an 11-8 victory Monday.
Hall, now 8-4, did their best in the first six innings to give Princeton a victory. The Red Devils committed six errors in allowing the Tigers to build an 8-3 lead. “It was six innings of yuck followed by one inning of pure beauty as far as we’re concerned,” said Hall coach Tom Keegan.
The yuck that Keegan referred to came mainly in the second inning as Princeton was able to score five times on only two hits. The inning included three walks, three errors and a steal of home by Dylan Schaefer, catching the Red Devils completely off guard.
It appeared as if it was going to be a suicide squeeze bunt, but Isaiah Taylor pulled the bat back and Schaefer easily beat the tag.
It appeared as though the Tigers would make the five runs hold up and come away with a victory. They added a single run in the third and two insurance runs in the sixth to give starting pitcher Matt Hayes and reliever Kyle Arnett plenty of cushion to work with. Hayes pitched five strong innings, allowing three runs on six hits with one strikeout and not walking a single Red Devil. Arnett followed that up with a one-two-three sixth and everything was looking up for the Tigers at Prather Field.
The game turned quickly in the seventh, however, and the Red Devils took full advantage of it. Arnett suddenly lost command of the strike zone. He immediately loaded the bases with a walk to Miguel Villareal, a single to Dan Nolasco on a 3-1 count, and another walk to Gene Lucas. Brett Fanning then plated a run with a single up the middle as did Blake Moreno to bring the score to 8-5. A wild pitch then made it a two run game, scoring Lucas and ending Arnett’s stint on the mound.
Caleb Dickens was brought in to put out the fire only to be greeted by a single off the bat of Brian Kruse, making the score 8-7 and setting up the play of the game.
After Kruse stole second to put runners on second and third, Matt Boucher put a squeeze bunt down the third base line that was fielded by Dickens. He had no choice but to throw to first and Moreno scored the tying run. Dickens throw was low, however, and got by first baseman Matt Hayes, allowing Kruse to come around and score the go ahead run.
Two outs later, winning pitcher Nolasco, stroked a double deep down the left field line, his second hit of the inning, plating two more to complete the scoring.
“He came with a nice inside pitch, it came off the bat well, I thought it was gone for a second there, so I started into my homerun trot,” said Nolasco. Nolasco relieved the starter Villareal in the second inning and gave up four runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and two walks. He was the beneficiary of the eight run outburst in the seventh to earn the victory. Fanning pitched the bottom of the seventh to earn the save.
“This is when we gotta get tough,” said Tiger coach Tim Taylor in response to the loss. “This is when, if we’re going to be a good ball club, this is when we’re going to come back. We just can’t roll over. They’ve done a good job working hard this season. I know they won’t roll over.”
Hall plays Tuesday night against Marquette while Princeton matches up against Mendota.