After 210 minutes, 14 innings, 38 strikeouts, five pitchers, yet only a single run scored, West Forsyth came away with a 1-0 win Wednesday night at Lambert.
In the top of the 14th inning, Drew Southern dropped in a single to shallow right field. Connor Kirley helped to advance Southern by laying down a sacrifice bunt. Ryan Gray followed that bunt with a monster double that rattled around in right-center field, easily allowing Southern to cross the plate for the game’s only run.
Lambert (7-12, 3-5 Region 5-7A) started Aidan McAllister, who pitched 8 1/3 innings, giving up a single hit and no runs with 13 strikeouts. For West (7-13, 2-6 Region 5-7A), Bryce Hawkins went seven innings, only giving up two hits, and having 11 strikeouts of his own.
“Pitching’s the story. (Lambert) pitched well enough to keep us off base for most of the night,” Wolverines head coach Mike Pruitt said. “We just kept battling and battling. We went up there with the mindset that we had to win it at some point.”
McAllister and Hawkins both had themselves a night, but if it weren’t for West’s relief pitchers, Ryan Ferguson and Matt Cassandra, West would’ve never made it to the 14th.
Following a leadoff double from Jonathan Hemings in the bottom of the ninth, Ferguson managed to pitch his way out of a jam with men on second and third. Ferguson settled down and then threw two consecutive three-up, three-down innings.
The bottom of the 12th saw more drama for Ferguson.
Lambert's Carter Ballstadt flew out to right field to start the 12th, but John Thompson hit a single and then stole second. Sam Carlson followed Thompson’s at bat with a walk, and suddenly the Longhorns had men on first and second. Ben Asher came up to the plate, laid down a bunt and outran the wild throw to first.
With the bases loaded and one out, Ferguson locked in, and once again, pitched himself out of a serious jam. He struck out the next two batters and led his team into the top of the 13th, still tied 0-0.
The Wolverines stranded a runner at third in the top half of the 13th and brought in a new pitcher for the bottom.
Cassandra began his outing with two straight strikeouts and faced the minimum six batters over his two innings of relief pitching. Even when West broke through to end the stalemate, Cassandra showed no signs of nerves in the final half inning of the game. He pitched three up, three down, and the game was finally over.
“Matt did an excellent job tonight. He had a lot of velocity tonight, and threw his curveball for strikes,” Pruitt said, “but (this was) a great team win, and we’re proud of them.”