AHS stuns Proctor with seventh-inning comeback
by LARRY SERVINSKY sports editor
If the Ashland Oredockers get on the kind of roll they're expecting to this spring, it might be easy to trace exactly where that momentum began.
Down by four runs in the seventh inning against Proctor with two outs, the Oredockers were on the verge of losing their third straight game and falling under .500 for the first time in years. But Ashland found a way to fend that off, making the most of a couple of Proctor mistakes, as the Oredockers rallied for a stunning 8-7 victory Thursday at LumberJack Field.
Brett Beeksma's second home run of the game -- a three-run, inside the parker -- lifted Ashland to an unlikely victory. And while the Oredockers swarmed out to celebrate after Beeksma slid home safely with the winning run, the Rails could only look on in stunned disbelief after they missed two chances to close out the game.
"After the last two games, this is a big morale boost for us," said Ashland coach Chris Kempf. "It's going to help us down the road."
"The kids didn't quit. The kids didn't give up. I liked the intensity we had, especially when the top of our order came up (in the seventh)."
The win lifts Ashland to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the Lake Superior Conference. Proctor is 3-3 and 0-1.
Proctor struck for three runs in the top of the inning, cashing in on a pair of Oredocker errors for a 7-3 lead. And with Proctor pitcher Kevin Schubert cruising along on a three-hitter, Ashland's odds of coming back in its home opener were bleak.
But pinch hitter Luke DeBriyn laced a one-out single and Brian Huybrecht worked Schubert for a walk. Schubert got one strikeout, pushing the Oredockers to the brink, and then got Joey Brennan swinging.
But the ball popped out of catcher Drew Scherber's glove and Brennan took off for first. Scherber's throw down was off and dropped by Eric Makitalo, loading the bases and keeping Ashland's hopes alive.
They appreared dashed, however, when Brett Harnisch followed with a hard grounder to Jon Kent at third. But with a game-ending force at third just a few feet away, he hesitated and threw to first only to sail it over Makitalo for an error.
Two runs scored, and the tying runs moving into scoring position. That brought up Beeksma, who had swatted a two-run homer in the first, and he crushed another Schubert offering to straight-away center well over the fielder's head.
Both runners easily scored and with the ball out by the fence at the 408 mark, Beeksma wheeled around to third. He was waved home as the rely came in and he slid in safely as the throw wasn't on the mark.
"When Brett rounded third, I took a chance," said Kempf. "He's the fastest kid we have on our team. It was going to take two relays to get it in and the second one had to be on the money to get him. Fortunately, it skipped by (the catcher)."
While that gave Ashland a much-needed boost, the finish deflated the Rails, who had the edge on the Oredockers in virtually every category but the final score.
"We showed our age," said Proctor coach Tim Rohweder. "We've got four sophomore starters. We had a couple opportunities to end the game and didn't. A good team like Ashland will make you pay for that.
"It's tough to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory."
Beeksma's homer over the left-field fence gave Ashland a 2-0 lead in the first. But Proctor got a run in the second when Makitalo scored on a two-out wild pitch and the Rails strung a few hits together against Ashland starter Steve Umlor in the third.
Scherber led off with an infield single and scored on Kent's one-out double to right center. Jon Podgornik delivered a run-scoring single and after a sacrifice by Andrew Nylund, Makitalo came up with a two-out single to make it 4-2.
"Proctor did a good job stringing hits together and that's one thing we need to get better at," said Kempf.
After giving up Beeksma's homer, Schubert didn't give up another hit until the sixth when Harnisch led off with a double. He moved up on a grounder and scored on Umlor's sacrifice fly to get Ashland within 4-3.
But Proctor answered in the seventh. Scherber led off with a double, Charlie Habermann was safe on an error and Kent was issued an intentional walk, loading the bases.
Podgornik hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Scherber. The relay home sailed high, allowing Habermann to score and Kent to move up, and Kent came home on a wild pitch.
While that would ordinarily had been enough, Ashland's wild comeback in the seventh proved otherwise.
"We were fortunate to make their mistakes hurt and hurt big," said Kempf. "The last out sometimes is the hardest one to get."
Ashland wound up with five hits, two by Beeksma. The win went to Ryan Gervais, who came on with one on in the fourth and finished up, allowing two hits and three runs, one earned, while fanning three. Umlor gave up eight hits and four runs, three earned, in four innings.
Proctor had 10 hits with Scherber and Makitalo both going 3-for-4 and Kent winding up 2-for-3.
"I was very impressed with the way we hit the ball," said Rohweder. "We worked hard on that in practice the last couple days."
Schubert struck out six and walked four. Only three of the runs scored off him were earned...
(Ashland Daily Press, April 27, 2007)
Recap for the 04/26/2007 game @ Ashland
AHS stuns Proctor with seventh-inning comeback