LUTZ- It took two hours and forty-two minutes, but the Steinbrenner Warriors managed to scrap together a last ditched effort to come from behind a confident Gaither Cowboy team to win in walk off fashion, 4-3, in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Ryan Fatzinger, the usual superstar on the mound for the Warriors, had trouble early on as he walked three batters in the second inning giving Gaither the unexpected lead over the number one seeded Warriors. Two innings later in the top of the fourth, Gaither scored again when a leadoff double was cashed in for a run after an RBI single to left field.
However, the Warriors put together a couple of hits in the bottom of the fourth scoring Drew Burkhart and Andrew Lindsay on at-bats by Chase DeBonis and Colby Burchardt. Gaither would take the lead minutes later off Steinbrenner’s other ace, Lindsay who came in as relief to the fatigued Fatzinger in the top of the fifth inning with a runner on first. Lindsay would be rock solid after that point throwing three strikeouts and giving up only one walk, and no hits.
It was in no way a pitching duel and it came down to who could get their runners in scoring position first. And with CJ Van Eyk up to bat in the bottom of the eight after Burkhart knocked in the tying run in the bottom of the seventh, a ground ball hit to the left side of the field forced a rushed throw sending the ball way over the first baseman, allowing Richie Storm, the runner on second to score without a problem.
“Coach [Crumbley] preaches to hit the ball on the ground and that’s what I did,” said Van Eyk. “It was a dog fight the whole time. I am just excited and we couldn’t do this without everybody.”
The Warriors secured their second district title in the school’s six year existence securing one more home game this Thursday against Brandon for regional play.
“We worry about ourselves. And when we do things well, and the things that we coach, those are our run scoring opportunities,” said Crumbley. “In high school baseball, it’s always good to hit the ball on the ground.”
Written by Evan Abramson/Online Sports Editor