After taking the 3-1 advantage, the Blue and Gold bats fell silent while the Lancers’ caught fire, The two-run margin didn’t last long as McQueen posted a pair in the bottom half of the third before posting a four-spot in the fourth to open up the game.
The beginning of the third frame looked like the Raiders' defense would make quick work of the Lancers’ bats, but McQueen sparked a two-out rally to knot the contest at 3-3. Nate Gadsby started the rally with a single, followed by a walk to Sam Higley. A balk then moved both runners into scoring position, setting up Cam Thomas to capitalize with a 2-RBI single back up the middle.
McQueen kept its momentum going into the fourth as a 1-2-3 top half of the frame sent the Lancers back to the plate.
The Lancers loaded the bases and went to work with just one out. Kody Reynolds sent a 2-RBI double to the left-field fence. Higley followed with a sacrifice fly to make the score 6-3 before Thomas finished off the Lancers’ rally with a single into left field to leave the scoreboard reading 7-3 in favor of McQueen.
“We gave up a couple of walks and then there was a couple of key hits by them,” Reed baseball coach John Phenix said. “What really hurt us was the bottom of the third. We had two outs with nobody on and then we gave up two runs. Innings like that will kill you. You stop their momentum right there and you shut them out with a three-up, three-down, then you come up and get some hits, we’re talking about a different game.
“I really felt like we went to sleep hitting wise from the second inning on. Except for a couple of kids, we kind of just fell asleep up there. We started off hitting the ball on the button, but after that I don’t know what their approach was or what they were thinking up there, but it was like we got lulled to sleep. You can’t do that or a little guy on the mound like that will beat you because you’ll just pound the ball on the ground to the shortstop.”
The Lancers added another run in the bottom of the fifth to leave Reed with a five-run hill to climb.
Reed (5-3, 1-2) began its comeback effort in the top of the sixth as Alec Leighton and Casey Higgins reached base with back-to-back singles. Brandon Koszuth then entered the game as a pinch-hitter and shook off five innings worth of rust with a bomb to the center field warning track for a triple. The shot scored both runners, but Koszuth got caught rounding third too hard to leave the score at 8-5.
Reed retired the side in the bottom of the sixth to set itself up for a chance to complete the comeback in the seventh.
A walk to Brett Chaney led the inning of for the Raiders before Joey Dice stepped to the plate. Dice then sent a blast to deep center field where the Lancers’ center fielder dropped the fly ball with his back against the wall, allowing Chaney to round the bases and leaving Dice at third. A grounder to the shortstop by Mark Nowaczewski then plated Dice while Nowaczewski reached base safely as the first baseman pulled his foot off the bag. Unfortunately for the Raiders, a strikeout and fly out abruptly ended its bid.
McQueen scored the game’s initial run in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 edge, but the Raiders answered back with a pair in the top of the second frame.
Kevin Koszuth led the inning off with a single into right field and then moved to second base on a fielder’s choice. After a strikeout left the Lancers one out away from getting out of the inning unharmed, Dylan Miller stepped into the batter’s box and ripped a single through the right side of the infield to score Koszuth from second and tie the contest. Next up was Jake Lehman, who sent a shot just inside the foul line and rolling to the left-field fence in foul territory, giving Miller plenty of time to touch home from first and give Reed a 2-1 advantage.
Reed added to its lead its next turn at-bat.
Dice got things going for the Raiders with a single and then stole a pair of bags to work his way to third. A sac fly by Koszuth finished off the final 90 feet for Dice, pushing the RHS lead to 3-1.
Reed will host McQueen Tuesday as the Raiders look to earn the split in the series. First pitch is set for 3:45 p.m.
“We’ll learn from this and get ready for Tuesday,” Phenix said. “We’ll need a good pitching performance out of Mark for one. I’m not too worried about our bats, but we need more consistency from certain parts of the lineup. We need to get our top guys on. They need to get on and get us going and get our left-handed kids with some power a chance to do some damage.”