The Warrenton VFW Post 2180 Freshman team overcame a four-run deficit against Sullivan Thursday, escaping with a 7-5 District 9 win.
It was Post 2180 which took an early lead to start things off.
Manny Raygoza lined a single to right to begin the inning and found himself at second base after converting the steal attempt. He reached third base on a grounder by Gavin Mehrhoff and scored on a called balk on Sullivan pitcher Alex Branson to make the score 1-0.
But Sullivan wasted no time in the top of the second inning and got that run back and then some. Dalton Payne and Charlie Lohden drew walks off Post 2180 pitcher Nate McGee. Justin Lowe’s base hit loaded the bases for Garren Parks, whose sacrifice fly scored Payne to even the score at 1-1.
Sullivan wasn’t done, though. An error in the Warrenton infield pushed across a pair of runs and an RBI infield single by Jacob Brooks gave Post 18 the 4-1 advantage.
Warrenton VFW Post 2180 Manager Ken Dildine said he is confident small mistakes that gave Sullivan runs early in the game won’t happen as the season progresses.
“The boys played really sound. We’ve still got a lot of decisions to make as far as where we’re at, but it’s up to the boys on that stuff,” Dildine said. “They’ve been working out since January and doing hitting and learning the game. Now it’s time to put it all together.”
Raygoza helped make things happen again for Post 2180 in the bottom of the fourth inning. After reaching on a Sullivan fielding error, he again stole second and found his way to third on a passed ball. He scored on yet another passed ball to chip away at the lead, 4-2.
After struggling for the first two innings of the game, McGee kept Sullivan’s bats quiet the rest of the way. McGee didn’t allow a hit the rest of the way and struck out six in six innings of work.
“Once we got Nate settled in and he got focused he pitched really well. We went as long as we could with him today and now he’s got some time to rest and hopefully he can come back strong.”
Post 2180 continued to chip away at the Sullivan lead, tying things up in the bottom of the fourth inning. McGee helped himself and doubled to left center to start the inning. He advanced to third on another balk call on Branson. Tyler Curley then ripped a double to left to score McGee. He also found himself at third base on yet another called balk on a Sullivan pitcher. A wild pitch scored Curley to tie the ball game at 4-4.
Dildine said his team was able to take advantage of the opportunities it was given to score runs.
“We start kind of slow sometimes, but I’ve always told the boys to put the ball in play and good things will happen and the other team has to get the out,” Dildine said. “They hit the ball hard and it’s been our M.O. for the past couple of weeks where we hit the ball right at someone. We’re a half-second away from destroying a lot of people right now, but we take a lot of chances in this league with base running because you just have to.”
Warrenton started the sixth with Joshua Muegge reaching on a bobbled throw to first base on a ground ball. Curley again doubled to the gap in left center to put Muegge on third base. An RBI fielder’s choice by Logan Oakley scored Muegge and gave Warrenton a 5-4 advantage. Raygoza’s base knock scored Curley to push the lead to 6-4 and a pick-off attempt of Raygoza later scored Oakley for Warrenton’s final run of the game.
Curley and Raygoza had two hits on the day. McGee and Dakota Ball also had hits for Post 2180.
Sullivan was able to push across a run in the top of the seventh inning, but it wasn’t enough to get the win. For Sullivan, Tyler Jergens took the loss on the mound, allowing three hits in 2 2/3 innings of work. He struck out five and walked one.