By Jason Hanes
Down 5-0 after just one-half inning to a strong Severna Park Hornets squad, Canes Baseball Simpson rallied back to force extra innings before winning, 8-7, to close out a regional bracket at the Myrtle Beach Summer Nationals.
The win of one of the 11 Regional Brackets gave Canes Simpson a bid in the Summer Nationals Bracket, which commences Saturday. Severna Park now waits to see if it will get one of the three wildcards into the Summer Nationals Bracket or if they will play in the Pelican Bracket.
“We were chasing runs early,” said Canes head coach Brian Simpson. “Our pitchers struggled early, but we settled in and started pitching to contact. We just chipped away at it. That’s what these guys are good at. They don’t ever stop and just try to stay In it and give themselves a chance at the end.”
Things began to turn in the favor of Canes Simpson in the fifth inning. With two men on, Matty Brown sent a fly ball to center that bounced high off the turf and over the centerfielder’s head. The double plated both runners and cut the lead to 6-5.
Still, with the time limit having expired during play in the sixth inning, the Canes would soon be down to their last at bat. After a single to lead off the inning, Hudson Mullen laced a ball just inside the bag at third for a double, with the throw home being too late to get the tying run. While the Canes wouldn’t score for the rest of the inning, the game was tied going to extra innings.
Under tournament rules, each extra inning starts with the bases loaded and one out, with both teams getting a chance to bat. Severna Park would score in the seventh inning, but Canes Simpson matched in the bottom half. Canes pitcher Kaden Christian would get two outs in the top of the eighth unscathed, and after a walk to start and end the bottom half of the inning, Canes Simpson managed an 8-7 win.
“I didn’t feel too much pressure,” said Christian of his time on the mound. “I wasn’t going for strikeouts. I was trying to get a ground ball and let my defense work. I know everybody behind me will make plays.”
The win allowed Canes Simpson to avoid the “if necessary” game to decide who would win the regional bracket. “That’s big,” coach Simpson said. “It saves us arms. That’s what we’re trying to do to get to the knockout round.”