MT. CARMEL – Brandon Stringfellow hit a sacrifice fly that scored Devan Rich with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as Mt. Carmel defeated Washington, 7-6, Monday afternoon at Dee White Field.
The Golden Aces, who led 6-1 after five innings, won their first Big 8 Conference game since 2013, and averted a second league meltdown of the season, after letting a late 3-1 lead slip away against Vincennes Lincoln earlier.
“Our kids never hung their heads,” said first-year coach Kevin Smith. “We had a great positive attitude and we were able to get the win.”
Rich, who picked up the win in relief of starter Pete Smith (who went 5.1 innings), began the inning with a single to right field. “I got down 0-2 and was expecting an off speed pitch but he threw me a curve ball,” Rich said.
Pete Smith followed with a bunt that advanced Rich all the way to third. “I told Pete ‘If Devan gets on, you’re bunting.’ The third basemen had been playing deep on him most of the game,” said Kevin Smith.
After Smith’s bunt forced a throw from the catcher which allowed Rich to reach third, the stage was set for fellow junior Stringfellow.
“We had been talking to Brandon the whole game about not giving away that first pitch and he stayed in there and stroked the ball to center to get Devan home,” coach Smith said. “That’s baseball.”
Washington scored three runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh against Rich to tie the score 6-6 and force extra innings.
Mt. Carmel improved to 4-7 (1-2 in Big 8) with the win. Smith is hopeful that the win will give his team a much needed shot in the arm.
“I told the guys ‘We just want to be competitive. You’ve got to keep working.’ It’ a good win for us.”
The Aces took a 1-0 lead in the second. Stringfellow opened by being hit with a pitch, went to second on a walk to Blake Stipp and scored on an RBI single by catcher Austin Rue.
Rich helped his own cause in the third with an RBI single that scored Jake Hocking to make it 2-0.
After Washington scored once in the third to cut the deficit to 2-1, the Aces went back to work on offense. Rue and Dylan Brown scored in the fourth, with Smith and Stringfellow tallying in the fifth to give the hosts a 6-1 lead.
Senior Nick Gray came up big for Washington. He singled and scored in the Hatchets’ three-run fifth, then hit a 2-run single to center with one out in the top of the seventh to tie the game 6-6.
Pete Smith walked to lead off the Aces’ seventh, but they couldn’t sustain the rally and the game went into overtime.
Rich allowed a Hatchet baserunner in the eighth, then set the visitors down in order in the top of the ninth.