ALCOLA — With its season on the line, the Redbank Valley Bulldogs baseball team rallied when it had to.
Down by margins of 8-2 and 9-3 early, then 9-5 going into the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs scored five runs for an improbable 10-9 win over visiting North Clarion at Redbank Valley Municipal Park Tuesday afternoon.
That landed the Bulldogs at 7-7 going into Tuesday’s scheduled home game with Clarion-Limestone, weather permitting. The Bulldogs must finish .500 or better by school policy to get a nod to advance to the District 9 Class 2A playoffs.
So, Tuesday’s win was huge.
“Today was a playoff game because it was do or die,” said Bulldogs head coach Craig Hibell, whose team made it a season split with the Wolves. “We got down early, we didn’t lose the desire to keep going and it was a playoff-game type atmosphere.”
The game-winning hit came on Blaney Brooks’ single to center that drove home Hunter Buzard from second base. Buzard’s two-out single drove Austin Leasure with the tying right before that and he stole second to set up Brooks’ winning hit.
Earlier in the seventh, Bryson Bain led off with a single. After a Logan Wadding flyout, Jimmy Gundlach walked and Ethan Wadding doubled home courtesy runner Hunter Wiles.
Leasure made it 9-7 with his single that scored courtesy runner Chase Wiles. Nick Smith’s sacrifice fly for the second out brought home Ethan Wadding to set up the final sequence.
Smith, Buzard, Brooks and Bain all had two hits. Brooks ripped a two-run homer in the first inning. Buzard doubled in Ethan Wadding in the second inning and Logan Wadding doubled in Kobe Bonanno in the third to make it 9-4.
The Wolves struck for eight runs in the second inning. Four runs came home on Korey Mills’ two-out grand slam that deflected off the glove of Bulldogs centerfielder Isaac Park’s glove.
But the Bulldogs rallied back. Nick Smith relieved starter Brooks in the second and went 1 1/3 innings, giving up three hits and three runs with three walks before Bain went the final four innings to get the win. He allowed two hits and two walks while striking out three in scoreless relief.
“We hit the ball well and played good defense,” Hibell said. “We didn’t have the best pitching early on, but Bryson pitched well enough to allow us to come back and win.”
If the Bulldogs indeed enter the District 9 Class 2A playoffs, they’ll likely open in next Tuesday’s quarterfinals as the No. 4 or 5 seed. With the Bulldogs at 6-7 and Johnsonburg at 8-8 going into the week, that’ll likely be the matchup and it’ll be a rematch of last year’s semifinals at the higher seeded team.
Coudersport (13-3), Moniteau (11-3), Karns City (9-5) will be the top three seeds in some order with the Bulldogs and Rams at 4/5 in some order with probably Brockway as the No. 6 seed.
The semifinal round will be next Thursday at a neutral site with the finals at May 28 at Showers Field in DuBois.
In Tuesday’s other game:
The Knights had another game wiped out because of wet conditions against visiting Cranberry. That game will not be made up.
That means Union (5-9) wraps up the season Thursday at home against A-C Valley.
MONDAY, May 13
RBV at Union
Wet and rainy conditions forced the cancelation of the Bulldogs’ trip to play the Knights. It won’t be made up.
THURSDAY, May 9
At Rimersburg, the visiting Warriors scored 11 runs in the third and seven more in the fourth to finsh off a 15-Run Rule win in four innings over the Knights.
Moniteau banged out 18 hits of Knights pitchers Carter Terwint and Brock Jordan. Hunter Fitzingo and Nathan Tack each had three hits. Fitzingo and Lee DeMatteis each drove in three runs. DeMatteis homered.
DeMatteis and Brandon Carson combined for the win on the mound. DeMatteis gave up all three Knights hits in his three innings. Luke Bowser singled twice and Karter Vogle once while Reice Saylor scored both of the Knights’ runs.
WEDNESDAY, May 8
Redbank Valley 3
At Seneca, trailing 3-2 going into the bottom of the third inning, the host Berries pulled away with four runs in the third and three more in the fifth to beat the visiting Bulldogs.
Trevor Gladin had three hits with a double and two runs batted in for the Berries, who knocked Bulldogs starter Bryson Bain out of the game in the third inning. Nick Smith and Blaney Brooks also pitched. They combined to walk nine batters and give up eight hits.
For the Bulldogs, Hudson Martz and Hunter Buzard each had two hits with Martz doubling and driving in two runs.
All three of Redbank Valley’s runs came in the first inning. Martz doubled in Smith and Buzard and scored on Bain’s single.
Clarion 14, Union 3
In a five-inning game at Clarion County Park, the visiting Knights were 10-runned by the Bobcats.
Skyler Rhoades struck out 11 batters and gave up one hit in four innings on the mound for the Bobcats. Nate Datko had three hits while Drew Wrhen finished with two hits.
For the Knights, Luke Salvo was 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Reice Saylor scored two runs.
Union starter Karter Vogle took the loss as the Bobcats knocked him out of the game in their eight-run first inning. Luke Bowser and Saylor finished the game.