Eighth inning spark carries Bombers past FlashJuly 20, 2018
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
HUNTINGBURG — Trailing 5-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, Nolan Ramsey and the Dubois County Bombers just needed a little more time to get things going.
Up to that point, the Bombers had just one base hit — a solo home run from Jasper alum Evan Aders — and the offense just couldn’t seem to catch any breaks.
But as Dubois County finally found themselves getting things going with John McDonald rifling off a two-RBI double to bring the Bombers within one, Ramsey made his way to the plate with the tying run at third base and the game-winning run on second.
These pressure at-bats were something that used to worry Ramsey at one point in his young career but now? The University of Alabama-Huntsville utility man embraces them as he fought off a nine-pitch at-bat against Henderson reliever Trey Congleton for a two-RBI double to give the Bombers a 6-5 lead en route to their 7-5 victory over the Flash in Game One of their first round matchup in the Ohio Valley League playoffs at League Stadium in Huntingburg on Friday night.
“Those at-bats used to intimidate me a bit but I read in a book about the mental aspect of the game, that if you flip it and put all of the pressure on the pitcher then it helps you a lot as a hitter,” said Ramsey. “When you feel the crowd clapping and the beat going, you need to take that as (the fans) cheering for you and it helps alleviate a lot of the pressure.”
The Bombers found themselves behind schedule rather quickly as Henderson opened the game with three runs in the first inning courtesy of an RBI single from Paul Haupt and a two-RBI double from Aiden McMahan.
Dubois County’s first chance at getting into the scoring column came in the bottom of the third inning as the Bombers loaded the bases after Chase Andrews, Cooper Trinkle and Evan Kahre got on base via a walk or a hit by pitch. After Nick Gonzales flew out, McDonald drew an RBI walk to put the Bombers on the board for their first run of the game. The Bombers inched a little closer in the bottom of the fifth inning after Aders solo leadoff home run made it 3-2, but once again Dubois County failed to get anyone else on the bases.
After Henderson bumped their lead up to 5-2 courtesy of a sacrifice fly from Jacob Mulcahy in the top of the seventh inning and Nick Barrett scoring via an error in the top of the eighth inning, Dubois County found themselves in a position they’ve been in many times this year — trailing late in the game.
“Hopefully these guys have seen enough baseball in their playing careers to know there’s no clock up there,” said Bombers head coach Andy Lasher. “No matter what the deficit is, you always have a chance in baseball — there’s nothing that can’t happen.”
Trinkle, who Lasher said ‘isn’t ever afraid’, kicked off the bottom of the eighth inning by reaching base after being hit by a hard-throwing fastball. After Kahre reached on an error and Gonzales reached base via the second hit by pitch in the inning, McDonald came up to bat to face the side-arm righty Congleton.
After falling behind 0-2, McDonald got a look at a good one and sent it into the right field gap to bring in Trinkle and Kahre to put the Bombers back within one. As soon as he saw the pitch, McDonald had a good feeling about it.
“It felt good off the bat — I knew I hit it pretty well I was just hoping their outfielder didn’t run it down,” McDonald said. “There’s no doubt that hitting is contagious. Once someone gets on base, the next person just seems to follow suit and I think that’s what we did.”
As Ramsey immediately followed with his two-run double to give the Bombers their first lead of the game at 6-5 and Andrews drove in Ramsey courtesy of an RBI single later in the inning to make it 7-5, it would seem as if McDonald’s belief was indeed true — at least, Ramsey would agree so.
“I think everyone knows that hitting is contagious,” Ramsey said with a laugh. “We were pretty flat out of the gate and we kind of got together and said we needed to pick it up and make something happen. Our pitchers had been throwing well all night and we finally got scrappy and were able to get some runs for them.”
Dubois County did indeed have solid outings from both of the pitchers that saw time on the mound on Friday night. Starter Jack Anderson, who led the OVL with 53 regular season strikeouts, went into the 7th inning as he gave up seven hits, one earned run and struck out nine batters along the way. Reliever Reece Kleinhelter, a Jasper Wildcat alum, pitched three innings out of the bullpen (gave up three hits, struck out two batters) to get the win for the Bombers.
Game two of the first round series between the Bombers and the Flash will be tonight in Henderson at 8 p.m. EST. If the Bombers can once again find a way to win, they’ll advance to the Ohio Valley League semifinals.
And after already conquering one major comeback, spirits are high in the Dubois County dugout.
“If you can climb a hill like that, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to win,” Ramsey said. “I know they have a ton of good lefties they’re going to throw at us so that’ll be a challenge but I think we can do it — it’ll be nice to get another off day if we win.”
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