Orioles come from behind to beat Santa Fe, 7-5
In the 2010 Class 1, District 15 championship game, the Concordia Orioles came back from a one-run deficit to down top-seeded Santa Fe 2-1.
This time, the Orioles made a more impressive comeback, sco-ring the game's final six runs and claiming a 7-5 victory Thursday at Lexington.
"It was senior leadership. We've been here before, playing close games," CHS head coach Nate Beissenherz said. "We're used to this kind of stuff.
"The guys know how to win. They have confidence in each other. As I told (Santa Fe head) coach Fisher, it was a shame that we were both in the same district because this was a state-championship caliber game."
Concordia, 19-4, scored the game's first run in the top of the first.
Collin Werths cracked a shot to right field that went for a triple. A strikeout and a walk later, Hayden Brown drove in Werths with a ground ball to shortstop.
It didn't take long for the Chiefs to respond, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first.
With one out, Andrew Smith reached on an error, which was followed by a solid single to center field by Dalton Wilkin-son, who took second base when the throw in was to third, trying to get Smith.
Andrew Curry then sent a skyrocket to right-center field. CHS center fielder Alic Frerking and right fielder Dan Miller converged. Frerking called for it, but the ball glanced off his glove. Miller was in the right place at the right time and caught the ricochet.
Smith tagged up and scored. The throw back to the infield eventually wound up in Hayden Brown's hands behind the plate. Wilkinson, trying to scurry back to second, was initially called out, ending the inning.
SFHS head coach Josh Fisher questioned the umpires on the call. Since the ball initially hit Frerking's glove, the runners could leave the bases at that point, thus meaning Wilkinson had to be tagged at second base to be out. He wasn't, and the in-ning continued with two outs and Wilkinson at second base.
Keaton Graf took advantage of the opportunity, smashing an offering from CHS starter Collin Werths over the left-field fence for a two-run home run.
"If Collin could've given us a couple of innings, that would have given us the advantage," Beissenherz said.
The Orioles were frustrated offensively with runners in scoring position most of the night, including the second inning.
Cale Brunkhorst led off with a double, and Cass Heimsoth drilled a single to center and stole second base.
However, Curry struck out Dustin Heineken, Tyler Tolias and Werths in succession.
"I was kind of kicking myself for not sending Cale, but I didn't think he got a good enough jump (off second)," Beissenherz said. "Two years ago, I remember their center fielder throwing out our guy at the plate, and that was kind of in the back of my mind."
Carter Brown moved from second base to pitch in the second inning for the Orioles. And he was far from sharp, at least for one inning.
Santa Fe added to its lead, scoring two times on two hits in the second frame.
Brown walked Chad Tieman and Nathan Michaels. Cody Schmidt's popped-up bunt fell between home and third, loading the bases. Ross Tieman's fly ball to center was caught by Frerking, but Chad Tieman scored. Smith singled, loading the bases again.
"Carter had a bit of a rocky start, but being the smart player that he is, he decided to go from the stretch the rest of the game, even when runners weren't on base," Beissenherz said. "He was having a bit of trouble with the mound, but once he figured that out, he got in a groove."
Carter Brown seemed to gain control when he fanned Wilkinson, but Curry drew a free pass, driving in Michaels. Graf made a bid for his second straight home run, but left fielder Drew Smith hauled in the long drive just in front of the fence.
Santa Fe managed to get one runner on base three of the final five frames, but none of them reached as far as second base.
It was all set up for Curry, who had beaten the Orioles twice earlier in the season. But he didn't have the goods this time.
After the Orioles left a runner on third base in the third inning, they made Curry pay in the fourth.
"This is the third time we've seen Curry. I thought we were swinging the bats well in the 6-1 loss, but we kept hitting it right at them," Beissenherz said.
Brunkhorst walked and was replaced by courtesy runner Zach Wolski. Cass Heimsoth followed with an RBI double to the right-center-field gap. Heineken was then hit by a pitch, and both runners moved up on a balk by Curry.
Clearly rattled, Curry also hit Tolias, loading the bases. Curry responded to strike out Werths. And he might have gotten out of the frame when Smith hit a comebacker, but his throw to Chad Tieman covering the plate was way too high, all runners safe on the error, Heimsoth scoring.
"Early in the game when we were working the counts, I said he (Curry) was going to get tired," Beissenherz said. "We noticed about the third or fourth inning that his fastball had slowed down. We were swinging with more and more confidence."
Curry again came back to strike out Carter Brown, but he walked Hayden Brown, scoring Cory Meineka (pinch-running for Heine-ken), before fanning Frerking to end the inning.
A two-out single by Heineken was all the Orioles could muster in the fifth, but they took advantage of some defensive gaffes in the sixth to score three more times.
Werths opened the sixth by hitting a high fly ball to right field that Michaels had trouble measuring, the ball falling behind him. Werths raced to third for a triple. Smith followed with a solid single between third and shortstop, tying the game.
Carter Brown's high, high pop up on the infield dropped without being touched at shortstop, moving Smith to second. Hayden Brown came through with a shot up the middle for an RBI base hit to put the Orioles ahead. Carter Brown then scored on an errant throw to third by Chad Tieman.
Curry, who had allowed the Orioles only one run in their last meeting, was done for the evening. On came Graf.
After Graf walked Frerking, he retired Brunkhorst on a comebacker and struck out Heimsoth and Heineken, avoiding more damage.
Carter Brown had hit his groove, allowing only a one-out single to Ross Tieman, who was wiped out in a Tolias-to-Brunkhorst (6-3) double play to end the fourth inning, a two-out walk to Graf in the fifth and nothing in the third and sixth frames.
"Carter got stronger, as he usually does, as the game went along," Beissenherz said.
The Orioles missed a golden opportunity to add more runs in the seventh inning. Tolias drew a walk, but he was cut down trying to move around to third on a base hit by Werths. With two outs, Carter Brown walked and Hayden Brown was hit by a pitch. But Frerking fanned swinging.
Ross Tieman's single to center field kept the Chiefs' hopes alive in the top of the seventh. Carter Brown got a comebacker from Smith, getting the out at first, then he fanned Wilkinson swinging.
Curry cracked a high fly ball to deep right-center field. Frerking fought the wind and made a circus catch a few feet from the fence to end the game.
"Alic Frerking had a tough night at the plate, but that was an amazing catch, basically robbing Curry of a game-tying two-run homer," Beissenherz said. "I'm proud of Alic because he kept his head up and made one of the most important plays of the game."
Carter Brown was the winning pitcher, allowing two earned runs on four hits and four walks while fanning six in six innings. Werths gave up three unearned runs on two hits and struck out one in an inning.
Curry was the losing pitcher, surrendering seven runs (five earned) on 10 hits, three walks and three hit batters while whiffing 10 in five-plus frames. Graf allowed one hit, two walks and hit a batter while whiffing three in two innings of work.
The Chiefs, who had a 13-game winning streak stopped, lose three starters off a team that finished 16-4.