Maynard rallies twice to top Barton
MAYNARD — Yogi Berra’s often-used “It ain’t over until it’s over” was never more evident Tuesday night.
Second-seeded Maynard rallied twice with two outs and then used Hunter Westlake’s RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning to walk-off a winner against visiting Barton, 7-6, in a whacky Game 1 of the Ohio Valley Baseball League best-of-5 championship series on Firemen’s Field inside the Community Park.
“We never quit. Maynard is not going anywhere. We plan on being here for a long time,” Maynard player/manager David Vicker said. “These guys never quit. Not once. They believe in each other.”
The Indians (15-6) scored twice with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to extend the contest and, after the fourth-seeded and defending champion Braves (11-8) took a 6-2 lead in the top of the ninth, the hosts staged another dramatic comeback to draw even once again.
Jayden Starks led off the bottom of the 10th with an infield single to the right side and Matt Busby lined the first pitch he saw from Colton Coss, Barton’s fourth pitcher, to left-center for a single as Starks stopped at second, setting the stage for Westlake’s game-winner.
The former Bellaire High and West Liberty University diamond standout drilled a 2-0 pitch to right-center as Starks raced home to set off a wild celebration that carried all the way down the rightfield line.
“We all got hot there together. We finally strung some hits together and rallied there at the end,” Vicker said.
Westlake, who was 1-for-2 with two walks and a sacrifice fly prior to his last at-bat, just wanted to put the ball in play.
“It was huge,” Westlake said of his hit. “Playing a team like Barton in a five-game series, you’ve got to win these type of games,” Westlake said. “I just wanted to make contact. I really wasn’t looking for any certain pitch, but I got one I liked.”
“Hunter is the heart and soul of our team. He plays with a lot of intensity every game,” Vicker noted. “He’s our best hitter hands-down. He was the right man in the right spot and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way.”
The two teams were deadlocked at zero Monday night with one out in the bottom of the fourth when a rainstorm suspended play as Maynard had runners on first and second and one out.
Barton quickly grabbed a 2-0 lead when play resumed. It appeared that’s the way the game would end until Busby and Westlake drew back-to-back walks with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh.
“We have to throw strikes. If we throw strikes, the game is over,” veteran Barton manager Billy Timko stressed. “We handed them the game. That’s all there was to it. We had two outs. All we had to do was throw strikes, but it didn’t happen.
“Give Maynard credit. They never gave up,” Timko added. “They kept coming back and coming back.”
Eric Banal throw out a Barton runner at the plate to end the eighth, but Maynard couldn’t capitalize despite putting its first two runners on.
“Eric has a strong arm. I watched him approach the ball and I knew he was going to make a good throw,” Vicker said of the play that ended the top of the eighth. “He gunned it right there and (catcher) B.A. (Holloway) sat right on the plate and got the tag down. That’s baseball.”
A two-run, two-out single to center off the bat of Niko Petrides gave Barton a 4-2 lead in the ninth. A wild pitch made it 5-2 and a sacrifice fly from Isaac Rine bumped the count to 6-2.
Maynard scored twice in the bottom of the inning before Vicker walked with the bases loaded to force in the third run. Banal laced a single to left that knocked in Mason Ramsay to tie the game, but Klay Cottis was thrown out at the plate by Jacob Probst to send the game to the 10th.
Chris McIntyre, Maynard’s fourth pitcher of the game and tonight’s starter in Game 2, retired the Braves in order in the top of the 10th. He needed just eight pitches in picking up the win.
Vicker praised the job Mackenzie Koehler and Joe Myers did in relief.
“Mackenzie came in and performed very well in a tough situation. He’s a gamer though,” Vicker said of Koehler who took the hill when play resumed. “I expected that type of effort from him.”
Myers relieved Koehler in the ninth with one out and runners on second and third. He gave up two runs but got an inning-ending strikeout to escape further damage.
“Joe was also very efficient in a tough spot,” Vicker added. “He limited the damage. I know he gave up a couple of runs that he inherited, but he got out of a huge jam.”
“It was a great game for the fans to watch,” Timko said. “But that is what happens when you get two championship-caliber teams playing against each other.”
Holloway led all hitters with three singles while Starks had a pair. Westlake finished with three RBI.
“That is probably the craziest championship game I’ve played in,” Holloway, who is playing in his 13th season and has six championships, said. “I rip on him (Hunter) all the time and he’s one of my best friends, but when he came to the plate, I knew he was going to win it.”
Dillon Sunnafrank and Probst each singled twice for Barton.
After taking Thursday off, Game 3 will return to Maynard on Friday. Should Games 4 and 5 be needed, they would be played on Sunday (1 p.m.) in Crescent and Monday (6 p.m.) in Maynard.
<*p(0.0,10.0,0.0,9.5,0,0,g)*L>∫ Barton is a player short on its roster after Aaron Marovich was placed in concussion protocol. He suffered fractures in both sinus cavitites when he was hit in the face with a pitch while warming up Monday night’s starting pitcher before the game.
∫ The Braves turned three of the game’s four double plays.
∫ After taking 45 minutes to play Monday, Tuesday’s game went 1:44 for a total time of 2:29.