Richard Stroud

Grove Sun

JAY- It may have taken nine innings, but Grove hitters finally found a way to score some runs against Jay pitching.

After being locked down for eight innings by Bulldog starter Tyler Buss, the Ridgerunners took advantage of wild pitching by Jay's relievers in a 10-run ninth that gave them a 12-2 win over their county rivals.

Buss held the Ridgerunners to just five hits while striking out nine, but was matched inning for inning by Grove starter Gibson Russ. After allowing a run in the opening frame, Russ held the Bulldogs to just one hit over the next seven innings and gave up just one unearned run in the eighth inning.

The Bulldogs got their offense going early when Matt Henderson hit a towering double to the left centerfield wall with one out. Russ appeared to be about to get out of trouble when he got Jay first baseman Kyle Shambaugh to popup to second base, but catcher JJ Meeker came through with a two-out single that scored Henderson and gave the Bulldogs an early 1-0 lead.

Russ would settle down after that first inning, allowing four walks and no hits until the eighth inning.

But for much of the game it looked like Russ's effort would go for naught. The Ridgerunners had two runners on base in the first, third and fifth innings but could not come up with a hit to tie the game. Their best chance came in the third, when a walk, an error and a wild pitch put runners at second and third with two outs. But Buss struck out Adam Steffenson looking, ending the inning.

Grove would finally tie the score in the sixth inning, but it took a bizarre play to do it. After Steffenson led off the inning with a walk, Russ singled. With one out, Steffenson and Russ attempted a double steal on a third strike to the Grove batter. The resulting throw to third by Meeker went into the outfield, allowing Steffenson to score while Russ was thrown out at third to end the inning with the score tied at one.

The Ridgerunners would again use aggressive baserunning to manufacture another run in the top of the eighth. After Buck Maples led off the inning with a walk and a steal of second, a bunt single by Zach Knox would give Grove runners on the corners with no outs. A sacrifice fly to left field by Steffenson would give the Ridgerunners their first lead of the day at 2-1.

But the Bulldogs would answer in the bottom of the frame when Henderson led off with a single to right field. Russ would get the next two batters in order, but he then hit Buss with a pitch, moving Henderson to second.

Henderson would subequently get caught in a rundown, but a wide throw from second to third base allowed him to score and send the game into another extra inning.

But with Buss now out of the game it was the Bulldog pitching staff that finally caved. The Ridgerunners took advantage of seven walks in the inning, including five in a row with the bases loaded, to score ten runs on just three hits in taking a 12-2 lead.