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Walk-off comeback

Walk-off comeback
Walk-off comeback
Lanesville's Noah Jones, center, runs with teammate Joe Ferree, left, to celebrate with Caleb Gresham after Gresham scored the game-winning run versus Henryville on Thursday. Photos by Brian Smith

All six of Lanesville’s wins prior to Henryville’s visit to Ed Jaegers Memorial Field saw the Eagles’ offense score at least 10 runs. On Thursday, the Eagles found themselves in a low-scoring battle with Southern Athletic Conference rival Henryville.
Despite out-hitting the Hornets 13-4, Lanesville needed a little heroics to shore up the team’s seventh win.
Trailing by one in the seventh, Brenden Bube smacked a solo one-out homer to tie the game. Extra innings, however, weren’t on the agenda.
Senior Stephen Shaffer legged out a double, setting up a game-winning hit by classmate Caleb Gresham to right field. It didn’t take long after the ball rocketed off Gresham’s bat for the Eagles’ bench to empty. Many went to mob Shaffer for crossing the plate to ensure a 5-4 Lanesville victory while others congratulated Gresham.
‘It’s crazy, and I’m really happy the team pulled out the win,’ Bube said. ‘We’ve been hitting the ball well lately. Coming back in the bottom of the seventh to win, it can’t get any better than that.’
Lanesville rookie coach Zach Payne saw the spirits of his team lifted when Bube circled the bases. His shot to left field knotted the game at four.
‘Once he hit that, I didn’t have any doubt we’d win the game,’ Payne said. ‘How exciting that was; all the kids were up. It was two seniors coming up after Brenden, and they did a great job.’
Shaffer carried the momentum with a liner to right and, once he saw the ball bobbled slightly, continued to charge toward second base, sliding in safely.
Henryville went to the bullpen, bringing in Danny Nieberlein to face Gresham. Staying more patient, Gresham split the right-center gap, easily bringing in Shaffer.
‘Caleb hadn’t had a great day at the plate, but he finally did what he was supposed to do against guys that don’t throw overly hard: stay back and go the other way,’ Payne said.
Gresham was feeling the power recently, coming off back-to-back games where he put a ball in each over the fence.
‘The ground out and two strikeouts before that at bat, I was ahead of the ball trying to go yard,’ Gresham admitted. ‘The last one, I stayed back and went to the right side. It worked.’
A better, all-around baseball game played by the now 7-5 Eagles was enough to please Payne.
‘Even if we would have lost the game 4-3, I wouldn’t have been upset,’ he said. ‘We picked it up and made plays after the rough first inning. It’s always exciting to win a game like that. Overall, I was very happy with our effort.’
Henryville took advantage of a walk and an infield error to score two runs in the opening inning. Nieberlein made the Eagles pay by hitting a hard-hit ball to center, plating two.
Lanesville got out of the inning by snuffing out a squeeze-play attempt, getting Cody McAfee out at home.
Never leading until the end, Lanesville managed to tie the game in the second at 2-all. Out of the nine-hole, Jon Ferree tagged a ball that nearly left the park, hitting the fence for a two-run double. He scored Josh Barnes and Mitchell Bailey, both who had reached on singles.
‘Jon has struggled all year hitting until the Borden game,’ Payne said. ‘He’s been hitting the ball hard since then, so it was good to see him get rewarded.’
Henryville took the lead back in the next half-inning when Elijah Weeks reached after being struck by a pitch. He later scored on a single by McAfee. With two outs, McAfee stole second and eventually swiped home on a wild pitch.
From there, Bube, Lanesville’s starting pitcher, didn’t allow another run. He struck out 13 and walked four.
‘He struggled early,’ Payne said of Bube. ‘The games he has struggled, he has a hard time getting ahead in the count. He just wants to blow it by everybody. He does throw hard but has really good off-speed pitches. He needs to mix those in there.’
‘Overall, I felt OK,’ Bube said. ‘I’m working on locating off-speed pitches so I don’t have to just burn fastballs in there.’
Lanesville put lead-off runners on in the third and fourth innings but couldn’t score. Greg Daly and Bube singled to start the fifth then teamed up on the base paths to score a run. On a double steal, Bube was stuck between first and second, thus allowing Daly to score.
While Henryville had a busted squeeze early in the game, a missed sign spoiled an opportunity for the Eagles in the sixth. Bailey lined into a double play as Barnes was trying to swipe second.
Ryan McCubbins came off the bench to hit a double, but the double play didn’t leave runners for him to drive in. McCubbins was thrown out at home on a single hit by Ferree, ending the threat.
The Eagles didn’t seem bothered; rather, they came into the bottom of the seventh looking to win. Three straight hits led them to the celebration.
‘It’s awesome,’ Bube said. ‘It’s a great team and fun to win a ballgame like this. We proved we didn’t give up.’
Gresham said the push to go hard is emphasized in practice.
‘In practice, it’s taught by coaches to go harder than you would in a game,’ Gresham said. ‘When we do that, it transforms the way we play on the field. We take hard turns at first no matter where the ball is at.’
Bube also went 3 for 4 at the plate while Shaffer, Barnes and Ferree had two hits each.
Payne said the team had worked a lot on hitting, bringing the team’s overall batting average 40 points higher than last season. He added the emphasis on offense may reflect the team’s struggle at times on defense.
‘We feel like we’re putting things together at the right time with conference games coming up,’ Payne said. ‘We are much better than we were week one and two. Part of that was the kids getting adjusted to me and our practices. They aren’t worried about doing the drill right, but now they are getting better with the drill. They are just playing baseball now. It comes to them.’
Lanesville will head to New Washington tomorrow (Thursday).

Henryville 202 000 0 ‘ 4 4 1
Lanesville 020 010 2 ‘ 5 13 2
W ‘ Bube, L ‘ Roth.
2B ‘ Shaffer (L), Jon Ferree (L), McCubbins (L).