CALHAN - With an extra-inning loss to a 2A District 8 rival fresh on its mind, Evangelical Christian's baseball team was not about to let a late Calhan surge steal another conference win.
Earlier this week Calhan scored seven runs in the top of the seventh inning against ECA to force extra innings, and eventually clinched the game with a run in the top of the eighth.
This time out, ECA coach Bob DeRuiter used that game as a motivator as his Eagles stepped up to the plate with a three-run deficit in the top of the seventh.
Their tenacity and confidence paid off as the Eagles took advantage of a pitching change and smacked a few extra-base hits for a four-run inning to even the series with a 9-7 win over Calhan.
“I told them we have to keep fighting like (Calhan) did with us the other day,” DeRuiter said. “It kind of killed us (on Tuesday) and we wanted to come in today and give the same kind of effort.”
Trailing by three heading into the top of the seventh, ECA quickly got to work and put runners on first and second with no outs. Zach Perry knocked in an RBI with a single to left to get the scoring barrage going.
A pitching change ensued with Jacob Kim on deck. Kim had already hit a leadoff double earlier and was exuding confidence at the plate - and when he hit a game-tying two-run double, he proved it.
“Confidence is interesting and momentum is interesting,” DeRuiter said. “A key play, a key hit or a key pitch will make a big difference, so we always have to be ready to make that play, that hit, that pitch. Having confidence in our ability to do that is what we’re always hoping to do.”
Kim’s double was followed by an odd ball hit by Charlie Schwink, which was bobbled in the infield enabling ECA to bring two more runs across for the eventual game-winning runs.
“Coming back like that is really hard to do, and for that to happen for both of our teams within 48 hours of each other - that’s baseball,” Calhan coach Donovan Mitchell said. “We threw strikes, they hit the ball, and they put it in play like we did two days ago - that’s baseball.”
The game shifted into the Eagles' favor in a matter of minutes, but prior to the seventh-inning influx, Calhan held a firm grip on the game thanks to timely at-bats by Riley Riggs and a stellar showing on the mound by Terryn Price.
Riggs hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth to tie the game at three, followed by a single by Nathan Deputy for the go-ahead run.
Riggs later hit a massive three-RBI triple in the fifth to give Calhan some breathing room.
“We’ve actually been DHing for him for most of the season, and today was one of the first days all year where he has hit for himself, and I think he saw three pitches today, he hit the first pitch every time,” Mitchell said. “So there’s that confidence and he came through when we needed it most, and he may have earned himself a permanent spot.”
Price controlled the game defensively with what Mitchell called the best game of Price's high school career. He went six innings, fanned seven batters and had four hits.
“Even though in the early innings he walked a few, when he got around 80 pitches he was unstoppable. It was unfortunate that we had to take him out because of his pitch count because he could have gotten the win for us,” Mitchell said. “He was outstanding.”