BY RUSSELL HUFFMAN
A bunt single with the bases loaded lifted New Deal to a 4-3 eighth-inning win over DeLeon setting up what promises to be a dramatic game three of the regional semifinal series between the two teams in Snyder.
DeLeon took control early but left too many scoring chances on the bases throughout the contest.
Bryce Whiteley’s leadoff walk in the second inning laid the groundwork for the Bearcats to start their scoring. The senior took a couple of big leads at first base that caused a couple of pickoff attempts and the third lead he took ended with a slide into second for a steal.
Chase Beck made the most of the opportunity stroking a double on a line drive to left field to make it a 1-0 game. The hit also moved Mattson Locke to third base after he got on board via a walk. Jake Sanders’ sacrifice to the pitcher left him out at first base but pushed Locke across home plate for a 2-0 lead.
New Deal tightened up the score in the bottom of the second when Yeager issued a walk and then hit a batter to set up a score off a single that left the margin at 2-1.
The Bearcats didn’t take long to respond in the top of the third and despite a two-out situation manufactured a run Blake Bellomy was hit by a pitch and advancing to second on a line-drive single from Locke. Becks line drive to center field scored Beck for a 3-1 score.
The Bearcats left two onboard in the fourth inning and New Deal edged closer in their half to make it 3-2 as Sanders came in to relieve Kevin Yeager who had recorded 76 pitches through 3.1 innings allowing three hits and striking out three.
DeLeon missed a golden opportunity when it loaded the bases with a Beck one-out single with one out in the bottom of the fourth. The Bearcats got a second runner on base with Sanders drawing a walk and loaded the bases when Yeager was hit by a pitch. New Deal’s pitching held strong to record a third out and the momentum suddenly seemed to change their way leading to when a two-out double scored a runner who reached base on a walk.
Entering the top of the sixth it was tied up at 3-3 and DeLeon went right to work with Martin reaching on a grounder that was mishandled. Whiteley was intentionally walked to put runners at first and second. However, the chances for more Bearcat runs was stopped when New Deal turned a pop fly into a double-play to end the inning.
After the series’ first game Friday coach Reggie Peters talked about how Sanders loved tough situations where the “heat is on,” and the relief pitcher responded big time in the bottom of the sixth inning striking out two batters and grounding out a third.
One huge positive for New Deal was the confidence in their ability to turn a double play which they did for the second consecutive inning with a shut down after Sanders singled a hard ground ball to left field only to be out at second.
As the game stretched into the eighth inning, the Bearcats again had opportunities left on base as Yeager was hit by a pitch but was caught stealing second base. Hodges rapped a single, Martin and Whiteley drew walks to load the bases. A popout and strikeout ended the Bearcats’ half of the inning.
Beck’s (3-4) two RBIs led the Bearcats’ batting while Sanders picked up one RBI/