A costly Reed error gave the Mustangs extra life in the bottom of the fifth inning, which Damonte swiftly utilized with a grand slam to seize a 6-5 lead. After Reed scratched a run across in the sixth to tie the contest, regulation proved it wouldn’t be enough to decide a winner. In the bottom of the eighth though, DRHS was crowned a 7-6 victor in grand fashion.
With the score still deadlocked in the bottom half of the eighth, Kyle Bailey dug into the batter’s box with one away. Sitting back on a 2-1 offering, Bailey drove a towering walk-off shot just over the left field wall, sending teammates and coaches barreling out of the dugout in preparation of mauling their savior at home plate as Damonte prevailed 7-6.
“It was a great game,” Reed coach John Phenix said. “It was going to be a tough way to go out for either team, but unfortunately it was us.”
In spite of being dealt the loss on the mound, Phenix said there was not much more the Raiders could have asked for out of starter Chris Flores. Over 7 1/3 innings of work, Flores gave up seven hits, struck out two and allowed one earned run with a pitch count of just 86.
“Chris stepped up big time. Big time,” Phenix said. “He put us in a position to win. We left some opportunities early at the plate and he kept us in it. I had that feeling that we were going to string something together in the third or fourth inning and sure enough we did. Then we got that lead and with two outs in the fifth we should have been out of that inning and out of that jam with no runs.”
Midway through five innings of play, Reed held a 5-2 lead over the Mustangs. However, in the bottom half of the frame Damonte erased the deficit.
A leadoff single followed by a hit batter put runners on second and first for the Mustangs. A sacrifice bunt then moved both runners into scoring position before a fly out put Reed one out away from escaping the inning unharmed. Unfortunately for the Blue and Gold, that would not be the case.
A grounder looked as though it would end the Damonte threat, but an errant throw to first kept the inning alive for the Mustangs. With the bases full, DRHS cashed in on the Reed error as Nate Nolan lifted a shot deep over the right-field fence for a grand slam, catapulting the Mustangs in front 6-5.
“They happened to have the right guy up with the bases loaded,” Phenix said “It wasn’t a bad pitch, either. It was outside and he just went out and got it. Up until that point we stepped up and got some key hits and had the lead. To be honest, one play and we’re out of the inning with no runs.”
Despite the blow, Reed responded its next trip to the dish. Jonathon Pinto sparked a two-out rally with a double off the foot of the wall in the right-center field gap. Tyler Starley promptly traded places with him, ripping an 0-2 curveball down the third-base line to knot the game at 6-6.
The tie remained into extra innings, setting up the Damonte fireworks.
To start the game, Damonte built itself a 2-0 edge in the first inning. Reed then cut the margin in half in the top of the third on an RBI single by Casey Higgins. In the top of the fourth the Raiders pushed home four to seize a 5-2 advantage.
Mark Nowaczewski drilled a leadoff triple into the right-center gap before finishing the final 90 feet on a Brandon Koszuth single. A pair of singles and a fielder’s choice then left the Raiders with the bases loaded and one out. A Damonte error plated Dylan Miller. That was followed by sac fly by Starley that scored Brett Chaney. Higgins then capped the Raider rally with a single into left, scoring Kevin Koszuth and handing RHS a 5-2 lead.
At the plate, Starley and Nowaczewski led the Raiders as each went 2-for-3, with Starley adding two RBI. Pinto and Higgins finished the night with respective 2-for-4 efforts.
The loss left the Raiders with a record of 20-13 on the season. Phenix said it will be difficult to replace the senior group leaving Reed.
“I’m going to miss them,” he said, holding back tears. “They’re hard to let go.”