By Drew Terhall
VERSAILLES — It was a 6-3 game after the bottom of the third with Versailles trailing. But the fifth seeded Tigers kept on fighting and came out with an 8-7 walk-off win over Northeastern, the ninth seed, in the Southwest Division III sectional at home. Senior Ethan Stover delivered the game-winning run in the seventh.
Head coach Brad Koopman said they knew it was going to be a fight as Northeastern was a regional team last season. It was not going to be an easy tournament game.
“We knew they had that kind of experience coming back. There was going to be a fight, it wasn’t going to be a tournament take down or anything like that. We were going to have find a way,” Koopman said.
The Jets jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. A couple of hits and a throwing error gave Northeastern all they needed to put up three runs on the board.
Versailles responded with two runs in the bottom of the first. Senior Carson Griesdorn had a two-run single in the inning.
In the third, Northeastern scored three more runs to take a 6-2 lead. They could have gotten in another run, but Versailles was able to make the defensive play to get a runner out at home when the bases were loaded.
After the third inning, Versailles kept making the right defensive play to hold off the Jets. Koopman said after giving up so many runs, they had to lock in defensively.
“We took advantage of a couple of their defensive miscues. You can’t give them anymore than what we already gave, so you got to play some solid defense,” Koopman said.
In the bottom of the third, senior Titus Gehret drove in a run to make it a 6-3 game. The Tigers kept chipping away at the lead. In the fourth, junior AJ Griesdorn and Stover each drove in a run to get within one run of Northeastern.
Senior Joe Ruhenkamp tied the game up in the fifth with a RBI. Koopman said just like they have been all season, the team slowly puts up a few runs each inning and finds a way to compete in close games.
“We’ve been fighting in some of those close games all year. We kind of trained for this. Played a lot of extra inning games, a lot of tight games at the end of games and you got to love the way they never give up. They keep fighting and clawing,” Koopman said.
Versailles took the lead in the sixth on a RBI from junior Joel Gehret. But in the top of the seventh, the Jets got a run on the board, their first since the third inning, to tie the game up 7-7.
But, Versailles held them off to enter the bottom of the seventh tied up. Carson Griesdorn hit a double with one out to get a runner in scoring position. Then with two outs, Stover came through in the clutch to drive in the game-winning run.
AJ Griesdorn pitched three innings and had a strikeout. Sophomore Ross Francis pitched four innings and had five strikeouts.
Koopman said Griesdorn pitched well, he just had some tough breaks with where the ball landed. He also said Ross did a great job of keeping the team in the game on the mound.
Versailles will travel to the two seed in Indian Lake on May 22 with the winner advancing to the District final. The game is set for a 5 p.m. first pitch.
Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]