Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Kellam finishes comeback in walk-off fashion in extra innings against Ocean Lakes

If there’s one trait Kellam baseball coach St. Clair Jones has figured out about his young players midway through the season, it’s this: They don’t quit.

Tuesday’s home game against conference rival Ocean Lakes was the latest example. The Knights entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 5-2, then scored three runs against Dolphins ace Corey Hinds to force extra baseball.

Kellam's Evan Morick slides into home plate for the game winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning against Ocean Lakes. (Joe Saade/Southside Daily)
Kellam’s Evan Morick slides into home plate for the game winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning against Ocean Lakes. (Joe Saade/Southside Daily)

After a scoreless eighth inning, Kellam was battling a recuperated Hinds with two outs in the ninth. After Evan Morick reached first on an error, Matt Dalton hit a high pop-up down the first-base line that dropped as Morick raced around the bases to score the winning run and end the 6-5 thriller.

“These guys just never give up,” Jones said after the win. “They won’t; they refuse. We fight like this. They just keep coming and they know I’m not going to expect anything else from them but to work hard and play the game all the way through by weathering whatever storm.”

Kellam (8-4) chipped away at an early 5-0 hole by scoring two runs in the bottom of the fourth off a Corey Leadenham two-run double.

Ocean Lakes threatened to tack on insurance runs in the top of the seventh with two runners on and just one out, but Leadenham, a freshman, executed like a poised senior. He quieted the Dolphins’ bats, striking out the last two hitters in the inning. He would retire six of the last seven batters he faced in the final two innings.

Logan Crowley started the Knights’ seventh-inning rally with an RBI double that scored Garret Jackson, who had reached on a double. Austin South scored on a sacrifice RBI by Morick, and Crowley walked in for the game-tying run on a questionable balk call against Hinds.

“I knew if we got behind we weren’t just going to give it up,” Jones said. “Those guys just scrapped.”

Ocean Lakes' Chase Counts smacks a two-run double in the top of the fourth inning. (Joe Saade/Southside Daily)
Ocean Lakes’ Chase Counts smacks a two-run double in the top of the fourth inning. (Joe Saade/Southside Daily)

Ocean Lakes (10-4) struck first in the second inning when Casey Fonville’s fielder’s choice RBI brought pinch runner Brenden Barrett home. The Dolphins jumped to a 5-0 lead in the fourth, scoring four runs on three hits and three walks. Bobby Golding’s RBI walk scored Brenden McDonald before Chase Counts lined a two-run double to right field and Nate Clements smacked a fielder’s choice RBI.

Leadenham earned the win in a solid outing, allowing no runs and three hits and striking out two in three innings. Hinds took the loss. He allowed four runs off five hits, walked two and struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings.

Each team had three errors and left nine runners on base.

“Playing our rival, it’s a huge, deep breathe,” Jones said. “They feel like, ‘Alright, now we know can we win.’ I don’t know how the rest of the season is going to play out, but however it does, I’m telling you right now, this is going to be a turning point.”

Ocean Lakes gets a crack at evening the season series at home on Friday.

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