wrenching defeat for the Charleston Fighting Squirrels Senior Babe Ruth team in Wednesday's 12-11 loss against Paragould AA Glen Sain Legion at Hillhouse Park
Charleston was on the verge of posting a 10-run rule, only to see Paragould stage an unlikely rally in the final three innings.
Leading 11-2 in the bottom of the bottom of the fourth inning, Charleston had the bases loaded with one out. A single run would have enforced the 10-
run rule, but a pop up and a ground out ended the threat.
But Paragould scored three runs in the top of the fifth to cut the lead to 11-5. They scored a single run in the sixth to make it 11-6 Then Paragould scored six runs in the top of the seventh to take a 12-11 lead.
"When you're sitting 11-2, you start to feel pretty comfortable," said Charleston coach Michael Minner. "We just didn't continue to do the things that we did early in the game. We didn't get some bunts down and we ran into a couple outs with bad base running blunders. We put too many guys on and we didn't make the crucial plays when we needed to. We feel like that should be a win, but it's a tribute to them. They came back, they battled, and they deserved to beat us."
Even with an 11-7 lead in the seventh, Charleston was sitting pretty as they were one strike away from victory.
But a pop up was dropped, keeping the game alive, while scoring a run to make it 11-8.
An RBI-single by Zarek Bateman tied the game. A walk and another error kept the inning alive, leading to a bases-loaded walk by Luke Foster to bring in the eventual winning run.
"I've told our kids from when we first started, you've got to play a full seven innings," said Paragould coach Anthony Faulkner, whose team improved to 12-6. "This is the second time we've come from behind when we thought we were out of a game."
Paragould took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but the lead was short-lived as Charleston scored 11 unanswered runs, including an inside-the-park home run by Johnson.
Meanwhile, Charleston pitcher Chase McClendon was cruising before fatigue set in in the top of the fifth.
McClendon was saddled with the no-decision, throwing 4 1/3 innings and allowing five runs off five hits. He struck out two and walked three.
"That's his first time out this summer," said Minner. "I'm real pleased with the way he threw the ball."
Paragould went through five pitchers in the game with Foster recording the win in relief.
He threw three innings and allowed no runs with just two hits and one walk.
Jacob Giles struck out the final batter looking to get the save.
"A lot of my kids were on the Greene County Tech team that won the 5A state tournament," said Faulkner. "They fought hard all year and they brought it to our legion team to keep fighting. They just keep coming at you."
Charleston's Matt Medlock took the loss in relief, throwing 3 2/3 innings. Of the seven runs he allowed, none were earned. He struck out three and walked four.
The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak by the Squirrels, who fell to 10-5 on the season.
"We're dealing with kids and they react different ways to certain situations," said Minner. "This will be a good learning point for us. We've been playing pretty good baseball and you hate to snap a win streak, but this puts things in perspective and shows us that we need to keep working. We know now that no game is over. You've got to find a way to close out games."
Johnson went 3-4 with two runs, two steals and two RBIs. Nick Johnson went 2-4 with a double and a triple with two RBIs and two runs. Other offensive leaders for Charleston were Jamie Barber (2-2, run), Medlock (1-2, 2 RBIs), Zach Rowland (0-1, 2 RBIs, run) and Jarryd Smith (1-2, 2 RBIs).
The score from the second game of the doubleheader with Paragould was not available at press time.