Jones stepped up to the plate with one out and the bases juiced. The Raiders trailed 4-3. The Reed third baseman took a hack at an off-speed pitch and came up empty. He then watched Galena reliever Andrew Brown throw three straight pitches out of the strike zone. Jones got the pitch he was looking for and drove it to shallow right field, plating the game-tying and winning runs with his single, sending Reed to a 5-4 Northern 4A baseball victory Thursday. It ended a four-game losing skid for the Blue and Gold.
“He had the go-ahead hit in the sixth, and they walked him in the eighth. He talked about how he wanted to be at bat,” Reed baseball coach Ray Charles said of Jones. “A senior stepped up and did what he is supposed to do. That was nice hitting. Good for him.”
Jones also came through in the clutch in the sixth inning, breaking a 2-2 deadlock with a two-out RBI single, immediately following a 25-minute snow delay as small styrofoam pellet-like snow coated Reed’s field.
That forced the Grizzlies to either score in the top of the seventh or go home with a loss. Galena took the drama out of the seventh quickly with a leadoff solo homer off Reed starter Mark Nowaczewski, tying the game at 3-3. Tim Lichty turned on a 2-1 pitch and sent a moonshot over the right-field fence.
Nowaczewski allowed three runs — two earned — on six hits over seven innings of work. He struck out six and hit a batter, but didn’t factor in the decision.
Chris Flores pitched the final three innings for the Raiders. He retired the side in order in the eighth and ninth innings, but Galena regained the lead in the top of the 10th. With two outs, Jorge Medina doubled down the left-field line. Michael Jones traded places with Medina on the basepaths by ripping a double in the same spot, giving the visitors a 4-3 edge.
Then it was Reed’s turn for theatrics. Beau Tittensor led off the bottom of the 10th by hitting a little dribbler to the left of the pitcher. Brown fielded it, but his throw to first was off the mark, allowing Tittensor to reach base.
A.J. Silva dropped a bunt down the first-base line, forcing Brown to come off the mound to field it. But because Brown is left-handed, he had to spin around to throw to first and Silva was able to beat it out for a single.
Chuck Stroberg’s sacrifice bunt advanced both runners into scoring position. Galena intentionally walked Joey Dice to load the bases, setting up force outs at any base. It mattered little as Jones drove his game-winning line drive to right.
The Grizzlies got on the board first thanks to one of Reed’s typical bad defensive innings. Alex Barajas reached base on an infield throwing error to start the top of the third inning.
Sean Pferschy tried to sacrifice him over, but Nowaczewski’s throw to first was wide and runners were safe at first and second.
Stroberg, Reed’s catcher, thought Barajas ventured too far off second with his secondary lead and tried to pick him off, but the throw went into center field. Silva overran the ball and it got by him momentarily, allowing Barajas to score and Pferschy to make it to third on the Raiders’ fourth error of the inning.
Silva came up big though, gunning down Pferschy at the plate on a fly ball out to center to end the inning.
While Galena starting pitcher Drew Anderson was virtually untouchable during the first time through the Raiders’ batting order, Reed got to him in the bottom of the fourth.
Tittensor one-hopped the fence in right-center field for a leadoff double.
Silva was lucky when Anderson couldn’t handle the sacrifice bunt attempt in front of the plate because Silva was running inside the baseline and a throw would have at least led to an interference call. Instead, Silva reached on an error, putting runners on the corners.
Stroberg tied the game with his line drive single to left-center field. Silva went first to third on the base hit, which enabled him to score the go-ahead run on a passed ball.
Galena answered right back with the equalizer in the top of the fifth. Barajas smoked a leadoff double that blasted the fence in left field. Two batters later, Ben Barnard knocked him in with an RBI single up the middle.
The game was an exciting pitchers’ duel throughout. However, both pitchers had to deal with coming back out after the extended delay and cold temperatures.
“He pitched outstanding. That’s the best he’s pitched all season,” Charles said of Nowaczewski. “The other kid pitched good, too, so it was back and forth. Neither of them gave in, so it was good all the way around.”
Anderson had the more impressive line, but he also got a no decision. He struck out the first four batters of the game and the only hit he allowed in the first three innings was to Reed’s No. 9 hitter Tanner Paris. Anderson finished with 13 strikeouts and one walk. Only one of the three runs Reed got off of him was earned. He gave up five hits.
The Raiders only had two hits off Brown during the three extra innings — Silva’s bunt and Jones’ walk-off single. However, the Grizz committed three of its four errors in those innings.
Silva went 2-for-3 and Jones was 2-for-4.
Barajas was 2-for-4 to lead Galena.
Reed (8-8, 4-7 in Northern 4A) heads to the south Reno school in search of a series sweep today. First pitch is scheduled for 3:45 p.m.