5/11/2018 10:11:00 PM BASEBALL: Rockets headed to title game after 5-4 win over Fairland
Austin Sharp celebrates scoring the game-tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning in a Division III sectional semifinal baseball game between the Wellston Golden Rockets and Fairland on Tuesday. Three batters later, Timothy Stanley hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Connor Bates for a 5-4 win. (Photo By Todd Compston)
WELLSTON - The Wellston Golden Rockets scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to come from behind for a 5-4 win over Fairland in a semifinal game of the Division III sectional tournament on Wednesday at Veterans Park.
The win lifted Wellston's record to 11-7 overall with the Rockets earning a trip to the sectional championship game at Crooksville on Saturday morning.
The Rockets did it all with no outs in the seventh.
Trailing 4-3, Austin Sharp lined a single into left field, stole second and Connor Bates hit a RBI single to score Sharp with the game-tying run. Bates moved to second on the throw to the plate.
Then Michael Graham and Zach Dress drew intentional walks to load the bases and Timothy Stanley hit a sacrifice fly to left field to drive in Bates for the game-winning run.
"We were actually playing for the tie. We got the first three guys on with nobody out and Timothy hit the sac fly to end it," Wellston head coach Morgan Stevens said. "Connor also had a big hit to tie it.
"He has been struggling a little bit but in clutch situations, I don't want anyone else up at the plate for us. He has come through so many times for us this season."
Graham, who came on in relief in the fourth inning, picked up the win.
He went 3.2 innings and allowed one run on two hits and struck out four Fairland batters.
Zane Ervin started the game on the mound for Wellston and pitched three innings. He allowed one run on one hit, with two walks and three strikeouts. Dress came on in relief in the fourth and lasted just 0.1 innings. He gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits and walked a batter.
"We started with Zane to try and save Michael's arm a little bit," Stevens said. He's been used a lot this year. Zane just returned after an ACL injury last week. He was on a pitch count and he actually did not do badly. He walked a few more guys than he usually does but that's just coming from not throwing at all this year."
For the Rockets at the plate, Bates went 1-for-4 with one run and two RBI. Sharp was 2-for-4 and scored a run, while Graham went 1-for-2 with two walks and scored once.
Stanley and Nate Frisby also had one hit apiece, as the Rockets finished with seven hits on the day.
Fairland took the early lead against Ervin, scoring a run in the top of the first inning. Jace Vonville walked to open the game. A pop out and a hit batsman loaded the bases and Darius Stapleton hit into a fielder's choice to score Vonville for a 1-0 lead.
Wellston answered with a run to tie the game in the bottom of the second inning off Fairland starter Garrett Looney. Graham, who singled to start the inning, advanced to third on back-to-back groundouts by Dress and Stanley and later scored on a wild pitch.
The Rockets took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third on a RBI groundout by Bates, scoring Hunter Cardwell.
Cardwell, who singled with one out in the inning, got into scoring position after advancing to third on a bunt single by Sharp.
The Dragons, however, scored a pair of unearned runs in the fourth to take a 3-2 lead when Bryan DeFoe scored after Dakota Chapman reached on a groundball error and Reilly Sowards, who singled earlier in the frame, successfully stole home.
Wellston tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning when Frisby singled to drive in Stanley.
Nevertheless, Fairland jumped back in front with a run in the seventh on a sacrifice bunt by Kyle Rankin that scored Tucker Adkins.
Looney, who pitched six innings, took the loss for Fairland. He gave up five runs on seven hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Gavin Hunt came on in relief in the seventh after Wellston had already tied the game.
"We were scratching for runs throughout the game," said Stevens. "We did have to play from behind for most of the game and we overcame a lot. I thought the way we came back really showed the character of our team today.
"These guys didn't want their season to end. When we were down by one run going into the seventh, we had our two, three, and four hitters coming up and I thought we had a pretty good chance. I don't know how long it's been since we played for a sectional title, but it is exciting for our kids and hopefully we will be ready and we will have a good showing."
First pitch for Saturday's matchup against Crooksville is set for 11 a.m.