Sophomore’s single in seventh gives Manchester win number 7 on the spring, third in a row –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
It’s the dream of every baseball player, from Little League to the majors, to be at the plate in the bottom of the final inning-to have the opportunity to send his team home as winners-with a walk-off hit.
That was the situation facing Manchester’s Jacob Calvert last Friday as the Hounds played host to the Whiteoak Wildcats in Southern Hills Athletic Conference action. Calvert proved to be up to the task, coming to the plate with one out in the bottom of the seventh in an 8-8 deadlock and poking a single down the right field line. That base hit brought home teammate Colton Thornburg with the game-winning run and left Calvert at the bottom of a pile of celebrating Greyhounds.
“I was thinking ‘do not strike out’,” said Calvert after the win. “I fouled one back and then took an outside strike but then I got a pitch right down the pipe and I swung as hard as I could, and it went to right field. By the time I got to first base, I couldn’t even breathe. It felt good to be at the bottom of that pile.”
The walk-off hit made a winner out of Manchester reliever Josh Tumbleson, who recently regained his eligibility after transferring from West Union. Tumbleson had relieved starter Hunter Conley in the top of the seventh and worked out of a jam, giving Calvert the opportunity for his heroics.
This SHAC match up saw five lead changes with the Hounds striking the first blow with a run in the bottom of the first when Conley led off with a double and later scored on a Whiteoak error.
That lead was short-lived as the visiting Wildcats took advantage of some Conley wildness to score four times in the top of the second.
The theme of the day was set as the Greyhounds bounced back, first with two in the second, one coming home on an RBI ground out off the bat of Jase Thatcher and the other on a wild pitch. Manchester regained the lead in the home half of the third. Conley led off with a base hit to left and one out later Bryan Young coaxed a base on balls. A single to center by Thornburg brought Conley home and an infield hit by Calvert sent Young across the dish to make it 5-4 Hounds. Another Wildcat error allowed Thornburg to score to give the home team a two-run lead, but again that lead disappeared quickly as Whiteoak plated three in the top of the fourth to reclaim the advantage at 7-6.
It stayed that way until the Hounds tied the game on a Kaleb Henschen sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth. Manchester went back in front in the sixth when pinch-runner Shaun Gould came home on an infield single by Kaige Cox.
The Wildcats tied the game in the top of the seventh,but it could have been a lot worse except for Tumbleson coming on in relief and recording the final two outs to leave a pair of Whiteoak base runners stranded.
That sequence of events led to the decisive bottom of the seventh where Thornburg singled, was sacrificed to second by Henschen, and raced home with the winning run on Calvert’s base hit,making the Greyhounds winners for the seventh time this spring.
“That was a huge win for us,” said Manchester head coach Dustin Cook, “It’s always nice to get a win and to have everyone collectively do their jobs and come away with a big league win. Josh (Tumbleson) came into a huge spot and got out of the inning and then a couple of good at-bats set up Jacob for the huge hit in the bottom of the seventh.”
Not unnoticed by Coach Cook was the continued torrid hitting by senior Colton Thornburg, who went 3 for 4 and scored two runs.
“Colton has a great approach at the plate,” said Cook. “He goes up there with a plan, looking for a specific pitch early in the count that he can drive. For guys in the middle of the order, that is all you can ask for.”
“We are on a three-game winning streak now and hopefully we can get on a little bit of roll at the end of the season which is what everybody wants to do.”
040 300 1 –8
123 011 1 –9
Whiteoak Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Hamilton 3-1-1-1, Butler 2-0-0-0, Yeager 3-0-0-0, West 3-1-1-0, Lowe 2-1-0-0, Brill 2-1-0-0, Harless 4-2-3-1, Nace 2-1-1-1, Roberts 4-1-2-1, Team 25-8-8-4.
Manchester Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Conley 4-2-2-0, Cox 4-0-1-1, Young 2-2-0-1, Thornburg 4-2-3-1, Henschen 2-1-1-1, Calvert 4-1-2-2, James 2-0-1-0, Thatcher 2-0-0-1, Lucas 3-0-1-0, Gould 0-1-0-0, Team 27-9-11-7.
Extra-Base Hits: Conley 2B
Whiteoak Pitching: Butler 6 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 100 pitches
Harless (L) 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 8 pitches
Manchester Pitching: Conley 6.1 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 9 BB, 1K, 125 pitches
Tumbleson (W) 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 9 pitches