GROVE – Kody Stephenson’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh thwarted a Mannford comeback as the Grove Ridgerunners bounced back from Thursday’s loss to Miami with a pair of wins to advance to the third place game at the Grand Lake Baseball Classic on Friday.
The Ridgerunners (13-8) led 6-2 after Erick Ryan’s three-run home run to left field in the third inning and still led 8-5 after six innings. But the Pirates used three hits and a pair of walks to score three times in the top of the seventh, getting back-to-back RBI singles from Bryce Hoggatt and Luke May to tie the score.
Benny Steffenson started a two-out rally with a single up the middle in the bottom of the inning, advancing to second on Ty Morrow’s single before scoring on Stephenson’s line drive to right field for the game winner.
The Ridgerunners appeared to have the game in hand early on, taking a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Jake Spychalski and starting pitcher Ty Phillips had back-to-back one-out doubles to score one run and, after a wild pitch, Steffenson drove in the second run with a sacrifice fly.
But Mannford used three consecutive walks to start the top of the third to load the bases then scored twice on two passed balls and a throwing error to tie the score.
Grove bounced right back with four runs in the bottom of the inning. Justin Tesreau had an RBI double before Ryan’s second home run of the season.
The Ridgerunners had a chance to put the game away in the bottom of the fourth inning. Leading 6-3 to start the frame, a single by Ty Morrow, a walk by Stephenson and a bunt single by Gibson Russ loaded the bases. Morrow would score on a wild pitch and Tesreau’s pop-up to second was dropped, scoring Stephenson for an 8-3 lead.
Ryan’s bunt single would load the bases again, but a pop-up and a double play ended Grove’s chances of blowing the game open. Mannford responded with two runs in the fifth and three more in the seventh to tie the score before Stephenson’s game winner.
The Ridgerunners had little trouble with Drumright in their first game of the day on Friday, using a nine-run second inning to down the Tornadoes 13-3. Grove took advantage of nine walks issued by Drumright pitchers in the win.
Tesreau had a two-run double in the decisive second and Phillips added a two-run triple to finish off the inning. Russ added a three-run home run, his third of the year, in the third inning.
Morrow got the win on the mound, striking out nine in five innings of work.
The Ridgerunners will take on Oologah in the third place game on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Grove Sports Complex.