Rangers walk it off against Daviess CountyApril 30, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
FERDINAND — Friday evening’s game between Forest Park (7-6) and Daviess County painted a perfect baseball portrait. A calm breeze blew in gently from center field, and not even the most trained eye could spot any semblance of clouds above the action.
The Rangers entered the game with abundant vigor, and sophomore Clayton Weisheit finished the 5-4 contest with a walk-off knock in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“I couldn’t even believe it,” Weisheit said. “It was one of those moments that you’re never going to get back, you know?”
Timely hitting was the name of the game in the final frame.
“It just means so much more at the end of the game when it counts,” Forest Park head coach Jarred Howard said. “We’ve had tough losses this year. We’ve lost some games that we probably shouldn’t have because we didn’t get key hits. All you can do is learn from it and keep getting better. Tonight, we got a key hit. It was fun to watch our guys celebrate. I’ll tell you that.”
Both teams battled through a scoreless first frame, but the Rangers drew first blood in the second inning. Forest Park sophomore Jaden Schuetter came through with a clutch two-out knock through the left side of the infield. The RBI hit provided a building block in the 1-0 game.
Rangers junior hurler Drew Howard worked out of some trouble in the top of the third inning. The Panthers left a man on second after a two-out flyout, and the Rangers maintained the lead.
The bottom of the third came and went without a run. Daviess County took the lead with some outfield hits in the top of the fourth. When the teams switched positions, the Panthers held a 3-1 advantage.
The game scurried along at a brisk pace. Forest Park left two runners on base in the bottom of the fourth inning, but the Rangers forced Daviess County freshman pitcher Lake Wilson to exhaust some of his energy.
A jolt of passion reverberated throughout Forest Park’s dugout when the Rangers turned two to end the top of the fifth inning. A well-executed double play is a pitcher’s best friend, and the twin killing served the Rangers well at a crucial time.
“Double plays are rally-starters — especially to end the inning,” Jarred said. “All that does is give you confidence to get fired up, get back up in the box and get back at it the next inning. It was huge for us.”
Rangers junior Brody Klem answered the two-out bell in the bottom of the fifth. Klem ripped a screaming line drive through the infield, and Forest Park sliced the lead in half.
In a sudden turn of events, the Rangers worked together to record the top of the sixth inning’s final out at second base. After a wild pitch ricocheted off the backstop, Forest Park junior catcher Landon Nalley rifled a laser to retire the runner.
“That’s a home-field advantage,” Jarred said. “He knows what the brick wall is going to do. It was a big out for us. Every time I get asked to put padding back there, I say, ‘No, it’s a home-field advantage for us. I’m not going to pad it.’ ”
The Rangers did not score in their half of the frame. The Panthers added a two-out run in the top of the seventh, but Forest Park limited the damage to just one tally.
The top of the Rangers’ order set the table for Weisheit in the bottom of the seventh. He delivered the goods with a sharp two-run drive into the outfield, and the Rangers burst into jubilation. A sea of green sprinted to embrace him beyond first base.
Forest Park returns to play Pocket Athletic Conference foe Washington this morning at home.
“Any game we show up and play is a big game for us,” Jarred said. “We’re still trying to figure out how to win. Whether it’s a conference game or it’s not a conference game, we’re good enough to beat any team we play. We can also get beat by any team that we play, too. We have to show up and play.”
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