Greeley, Colo.’s Keegan Ghidotti walks back ot the Grays dugout after throwing a passed ball that allowed Toby Semler to score the game-winning run for the Bee Jays in the bottom of the ninth Wednesday at Brent Gould Field. Liberal scored six runs in the ninth for the 13-12 win. L&T photo/Rustin Watt
By RUSTIN WATT
• Leader & Times
Trailing 12-7 in the ninth inning, all hope seemed gone for Liberal.
But a wild finish that included a three-RBI double by Blake Bergeron, and four different Greeley Gray pitchers ended with a passed ball that allowed Toby Semler to score the game-winning run in a 13-12 Bee Jay victory.
“I felt the same way I felt last night,” Liberal head coach Mike Silva said. “I felt like we were going to win the game in the last inning, I really did. I told the guys, ‘Let’s go win a ball game.’ But I’m not happy with how poorly we played until the ninth. We played really poorly. We’re better than that, but these guys, I don’t ever question if they’re going to keep playing hard. They kept battling on the mound, they kept battling to make defensive plays, and they kept battling during their at bats. It just wasn’t happening. This game’s not that easy. I was confident we were going to get the job done, and it was definitely fun. Probably a lot more fun to watch then it is to manage. Probably a lot more fun to play in then manage. But at the end of the day, they don’t ask you how you won, they just ask you if you won, so we’ll take it.”
Going into the ninth the Grays starter was seeking a complete game win. Pearson led off the inning by getting beaned before Micah Green walked. The complete game hopes ended as Greeley made a change.
Ryan Walker then stepped in and worked the count for a walk to load the bases for Blake Bergeron who may have had his strongest offensive performance of the season, hiting a home run in the first, and coming up clutch in the ninth clearing the bases with a double off the fence to spark the rally.
“He’s been doing a really good job with his swing the last couple of weeks,” Silva said on Bergeron. “Even when he was struggling early his swing was there. I’ll tell you what I told him. We’re going to be really good, because he’s going to do that, it was just a matter of time. He did it tonight, he did it last night, and he’lll continue doing it through this weekend. So we feel that whenever he steps up to the plate there’s a chance to win a ball game.”
Following Bergeron’s hit another change was made on the hill. Reyn Nagamine was struck out before Jake Barrios ripped a single to left field to put runners on the corners with Liberal trailing 12-10. Designated hitter Jayce Morgan recorded Liberal’s second out after another switch on the hill.
“I didn’t think much of them taking him out untill they brought in the starter from Game 1,” Silva said. “I didn’t understsand that move. I knew why they went left on left with Nagamine, but I didn’t understand why they brought the starter from Game 1 back after their starter tonight didn’t get the complete game. It didn’t make much sense to me.”
Toby Semler reached on an infield single to score Bergeron. Ross Kivett dropped a game-tying RBI single in left to score Riley Good who was pinch running for Barrios. On a throw home Kivett advanced putting runners at second and third.
Pearson stepped in with two outs and with the pressure to deliver a game-winning hit, a ball skipped past the Grays catcher and rolled to the backstop as Semler streaked home form third. After realizing that there would not be a play, Semler threw his hnds in the air and trotted across the plate to score the winning run. Pearson scooped him up and the celebration began.
The win moved Liberal to 18-6 on the season.
Despite the win, Liberal fell a half a game behind Haysville in the Jayhawk League after the Heat knocked off the Twins. Liberal is headed to Dodge City tonight for a conference clash.
“We played sloppy to open league play with Dodge City, and we lost. I haven’t forgot about that,” Silva said. “They’re a good team, and they play really good baseball. If we don’t go in and play well they’re going to beat us.
“We’re on the road, so we need to go in there and get another win and start putting some distance between us and everybody else in the field. That’s what we talked about after the game. Somebody’s got to win this thing, why not us?”
Blake Bergeron watches as his ball clatters off the center-field fence for a double that cleared the bases in the ninth inning to spark a late rally. Liberal went into the ninth inning down five, but scored six for 13-12 comeback win to take the series with the Greeley Grays. L&T photo/Rustin Watt