(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
CAPE GIRARDEAU -- A sacrifice fly off the bat of Christian Cavaness was what it took for the Cape Central Tigers to upend the Kelly Hawks Wednesday.
With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, Cavaness lifted a ball into right field which led to Cape Central's 3-2 win.
"That's a very good win for us," Cape Central head coach Steve Williams said. "I think sometimes people underestimate how tough it is to win a game. Either team could have won this one and we were fortunate enough to make plays in the second half of the game to pull it out."
Cape Central's late inning rally stemmed off of the arm of reliever Ethan Dambach.
Dambach came into the game in the top of the sixth with two runners on and no outs. Kelly's Matt Proctor and Jeff Gates began the inning with back to back singles and wound up on second and third because of an outfield error.
Dambach struck out the first two batters he saw and then coaxed a ground ball back to the mound which he flipped to first baseman Ramsey Scott to end the inning unscathed.
"Anytime you come in with second and third and nobody out, you're just hoping to get out of there with maybe one run scoring," Williams said. "For them to get nothing swung the momentum towards our side in a big way. We were able to scratch out a run right after that."
Cavaness hit a ball directly at Kelly right fielder, Jeff Gates, who caught it cleanly and fired home. Cape Central's Vance Toole tagged up and coasted into home without a play at the plate.
"Whenever you come up with men in scoring position you have to put the ball in play if you get a pitch to hit," said Williams. "(Cavaness) was fortunate enough to hit one deep enough. Vance (Toole), who runs well, was able to beat the ball home.
"That was a good spot for Christian to come up and he was able to deliver."
Gates' single in the sixth signaled the end of Cape Central starter Aaron Wendel's day, who pitched five innings, allowed two runs on five hits and four walks.
"Aaron has pitched well for us all year long, but he didn't have his best stuff today," said Williams. "He battled and competed and made some good pitches when he had to. In the fifth he ran out of gas, but he gave us a chance to win the game and that's all you can ask.
Dambach finished out the final two innings allowing just one runner by way of an error.
Kelly's Aaron Grainger was the spark that propelled the Hawks' offense.
He led off the game with a single and was eventually pushed around to score Kelly's first run off an infield single from Aaron Casey.
Grainger, who went 3 for 4, later led off the third inning and eventually scored his second run.
A ground ball out during Procter's at-bat enable Grainger to go from first to third. While trying to throw Grainger out at third, the ball sailed over Cape Central's Thomas Crocetti giving Grainger the go-ahead to cross home plate for a 2-0 lead for Kelly.
"That's why he's our leadoff guy. He's good at getting things going," Kelly head coach Josh Eftink said. "He was on base a lot today. He made a lot of things happen early on. We just couldn't get enough later in the game when we needed to."
The Tigers tied the game in the bottom of the third.
Luke Hinkebein scored all the way from first on a 'hit and run' during Ryan Siebert's at-bat to score their first.
"We were just stealing second there," Williams said. "I tell my hitters, 'just because we're stealing doesn't mean we have to take because something like that can happen.' There were two good throws towards home, but our guy just beat the play."
Scott laced a double off the fence in right to push Siebert across and tie the game at two.
Four of Kelly's nine base runners on the day were stranded in scoring position. Leaving both Proctor and Gates standing on second and third was a blow for the Hawks (8-8)
"That sixth inning was a real killer," Eftink said. "We couldn't get them in and we had a couple of strikeouts. They took advantage of a couple of walks in their half of the inning and they got a run in."
Gabe Felter started for Kelly and went four innings. He gave up two runs on five hits and three walks.
"Gabe's been throwing the ball real well lately," Eftink said. "He's been throwing a lot lately so we wanted to cut down on his pitch count a little bit today."
Ian Householder pitched two innings and picked up the loss. He gave up only one hit, but walked three. During the sixth inning, Householder allowed a hit and two walks against the first three batters he saw.
"I'm not sure if he got enough warmup pitches in the bullpen or what, but he didn't have his best," Eftink said about Householder. "His fastball looked good, but he wasn't spotting up his curveball and change up like he normally does. He was battling out there with just a fastball today."
Each team had a total of six hits. Although Cape Central (4-10) committed four errors, they were only burned with one run from them.
"That's huge because that's what you have to do, especially when you're not hitting the ball like we normally can," Williams said. "You've got to take advantage of everything and we did today."
Kelly 101 000 0 -- 2 6 0
Cape Central 002 001 x -- 3 6 4
WP -- Ethan Dambach. LP -- Ian Householder. 2B -- (C) Ramsey Scott. Multiple hitters -- (K) Aaron Grainger 3-4.