Pastime first baseman Reid Cote waits for the ball as Rogers Post 153’s Mason Brushwein slides back safely during a pickoff attempt during Thursday’s legion game at Auburn Suburban.
AUBURN — Very rarely do baseball games turn from pitching duels to slugfests as quickly, and dramatically, as Thursday night’s Roger’s Post and Pastime matchup.
Through four innings, Rogers had a total of one hit and just five base runners, while Pastime tallied three hits and five base runners of its own. Both sides scored just one run. It was looking as if both pitchers would go the distance, waiting for the other to crack. Instead, Pastime eked out a 9-8 victory on the road and ended Rogers’ unbeaten start.
The first run of the game was scored by Hunter Landry of Pastime after he got on base on a fielder’s choice in the third. Landry was driven in by a Lucas Francis double. On the Rogers side, Mason Brushwein walked and then scored after stealing a base and a sacrifice, but that was effectively it until the fifth inning.
Rogers pitcher Tyler Libby’s pitch count was in the fifties as he entered the fifth, but settled down after stressful second and third innings. Evan Cox got the ball rolling for Pastime with a double, his first of two hits in the inning. Cox was driven in by a Brock Belanger double, making it 2-1. The back-to-back doubles were followed by eight more singles, two errors, and a couple of walks that culminated in a seven-run fifth for the visiting side.
“I feel like I’m hitting the ball good,” Cox said. “I’m just trying to put the bat on the ball, not do too much with it and it paid off.”
An 8-1 deficit is something from which many teams don’t come back. Rogers was up to the challenge, however, when in the bottom of the inning second baseman Austin Cox started the inning with a walk and a stolen base. A single by Brushwein and an error that got Grant Hartley on base started the fifth-inning comeback that Rogers needed.
“We had a great fifth inning,” Rogers Post manager Dave Jordan said. “After Pastime really took control of the game, for us to come back and make a game of it and really come right back and tie it up, that showed a lot of character and a lot of heart.”
Jarod Norcross Plourde knocked in a couple of runners with a double. Rogers followed by hitting four more singles and executing a sacrifice fly to end the fifth only down 8-7.
Rogers pitcher Jake Arel came on in the fifth to take the load off of Austin Brown and, earlier, Libby, and got the final out of the fifth. In the sixth, Arel sat down Pastime in four pitches. Rogers tied the game in the sixth with a double and a sacrifice fly, and suddenly the Auburn team was back.
Two quick line-outs to start the seventh was exactly how Rogers planned it, but then Cox stepped up, again. Already 3-for-4, Cox drove a triple into left field. After the outfielder located the ball in the lights, Cox was in scoring position with his fourth hit of the night. Belanger singled to drive in Cox, which was the nail in the coffin for Rogers, who went down in order to end the game.
“That was big,” Cox said. “I know he lost it in the lights because these lights aren’t too good out here, but that was definitely big with Brock pulling off that single.”
“These guys basically did what I thought they could do,” Pastime manager Mark Belanger said. “When we play them it’s usually a one- or two-run game … We want to beat each other in the worst way. But at the end of the game, these guys are friends.”
Rogers Post 153 left fielder Mason Brushwein lunges but can’t make a play on a deep drive to the outfield by a Pastime batter during Thursday’s game at Auburn Suburban.Pastime pitcher Lucas Francis winds up for a pitch during Thursday’s legion game agasint Rogers Post 153 at Auburn Suburban.Pastime right fielder Gordon Beckwith zeros in on a fast sinking pop fly that he hauled in for an out during Thursday’s legion baseball game agasint Rogers Post 153 at Auburn Suburban.