Royal Oak picked up their second consecutive massive win, coming back to win the first game of the series against the Sandusky Ice Haulers, improving its record to 6-7 and keeping themselves at 3.5 games out of a playoff spot, and leapfrogging the Michigan Monarchs for fourth place in the North Division on Friday night.
The decisive run came in the GLSCL’s “sudden death” inning, where the home team gets to choose if they play offense or defense with a man on first and no outs to start the inning. Coach Vance elected to go on offense, and after a walk, sacrifice bunt, and intentional walk, the bases were loaded with one out. That brought up Collin Overholt (Ashland), who hit a fly ball to left field, scoring the walk-off run from third base.
It took a ferocious comeback from Royal Oak to even be in position to win the game in extras. Going into the eighth inning, the Leprechauns found themselves with a 6-3 deficit. UC Riverside’s Jayden Lopez ripped a single with two outs that looked like it would score one run, but a fielding error by right fielder Chy Humphries allowed a second run to score, narrowing the score to 6-5, Sandusky.
In the ninth, Michael Lareau (Wabash Valley) led off the inning with a single, which Coach Vance called the “biggest at-bat of the night.” Ryan Callanan (San Bernardino Valley College) sacrifice bunted to move him to second, and then Northwood Timberwolve Josh Getz singled to right field to score Lareau and tie the game.
The comeback was also made possible through the pitching of Nolan Coil (Calvin). After the Ice Haulers had scored six unanswered runs, scoring at least once in four consecutive innings, Coil came in and prevented the Royal Oak deficit from ballooning any larger. He threw three innings without giving up a base hit, working around three walks and striking out three.
Wayne State’s own, David Thurman, earned the win in relief tonight by also delivering a clutch pitching performance of his own. After Royal Oak sent the game to extras, Thurman got the ball in the tenth and kept the game tied, leaving a runner at second stranded after walking him and seeing him swipe a bag.
For the bottom of the tenth, the Leprechauns and Coach Vance tried an identical play that they executed against the Locos yesterday to try and score the winning run. Alex Cheeseman (UAB) stood at first, and Jayden Lopez stood at third. The idea was that Cheeseman would intentionally get himself in a rundown between first and second base, and while the defense are distracted with Alex, Lopez would take off and score the winning run at home. Unfortunately for Royal Oak, the Ice Haulers snuffed the play out and tagged Lopez out at home.
Michael Lareau had a standout game for Royal Oak, going 2-for-4 with an RBI triple, a single, walking to start off the sudden death inning, and scoring twice.
AJ Kostic (Central Michigan) had a multi-hit game as well for the Leprechauns. He also went 2-for-4, both being singles, walking in the second, getting hit by a pitch in the eighth, and coming around to score twice as well.
Royal Oak will look to improve its record to 7-7 tomorrow, with another game against Sandusky on the road, and another game at the Ice Haulers the next day. The Leprechauns’ next home games will be against the Grand Lake Mariners, who are currently 4-9 on the season and in fifth place in the South Division. The first game will be on Tuesday night, June 27th, before a road game and off day the next two days, before the third game of the series being at the Lucky Corner being set for Friday, June 30th.