Epic ball game

WILTON – Monday’s marathon baseball game had more lives than a cat.

Trailing by five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Wilton-Lyndeborough Co-Op rallied to tie Portsmouth Christian Academy to keep alive what turned into a grueling 12-inning affair that lasted 3 hours and 42 minutes.

In the end, five more exciting innings of baseball – with PCA putting multiple runs on the board only to watch WLC match it in a vicious cycle of hits – concluded with the Eagles beating the host Warriors 14-10.

WLC coach Paul Trombley admits errors in the field and on the basepathes hurt his Warriors.

“We gave them too many runs,” Trombley said. “I liked the way my guys battled back. We were down by five runs in the last inning and we come back and tied it, down by three runs a couple of innings later and we tied it but then we handed them runs and made mistakes. We had the winning run on third base in the 10th and he made a base-running error and got out. Those are the mistakes we have to clean up and this team will get a lot better.

“We came back twice. Pat Martin pitched great for nine innings. Sophomore Nolan Stevens did well today in a pressure situation. Lost a little control there in the end but that is to be expected.”

Both starting pitchers – WLC’s Paul Martin, who hurled nine innings before giving up the ball with the game tied 5-5; and PCA’s Wes Tubin, who was on the mound for seven innings until being relieved – were racking up the strikeouts.

“We all hit really well and hit when we were supposed to,” Martin said. “We were down by a couple and when we needed the hits we all came together and stacked them on and our fielding and pitching today was really good.
“We held them down when we needed to and couple of slips up here and there, that was kind of the cost of the game but we still worked really hard and we did pretty well.”

The Eagles got on the board first as Freddie Catalfo scored in the third inning. He was followed across homeplate by Paul Choi and Justin Leduc on a Wes Turbin single. Due to a couple of Warriors errors the Eagles scored two more runs in the sixth inning when Joe Towle’s double drove in Ryan Lemire and Justin Leduc for a 5-0 lead. The Warriors were not giving up and started the first of two comebacks.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, down 5-0, the home team’s bats came alive. Peter Bickerton singled, Brendon Hussey was hit by a pitch and Sean McClure loaded the bases with a single. Patrick Martin drove in two runs and the rally cry was heard. Connor Melrose had a hard hit up the middle and was out at first but drove in McClure for a third run, followed by Kyle Pratt’s single up the middle to drive in WLC’s fourth run.

His efforts didn’t stop there. Pratt stole second and third base and went home on an error to tie the game 5-5.

The Eagles pulled Tubin for Drew McCormack. Replacing the injured Christian Seeley, WLC’s Matt Allenberg came off the bench and hit a hard grounder to third. He beat the throw to first but missed the bag, took a nasty fall and was eventually tagged out. The first of many extra innings began.

Still tied 5-5 in the top of the 10th, McCormack walked to get the Eagles a baserunner. Big hits by Foley and Jake Holden into right and left field allowed McCormack to score, but Foley was tagged out at home by catcher Hussey. Choi’s double drove in Shawn Bradley and Holden added two more runs before a good catch by WLC’s Allenberg ended the inning with the Eagles ahead 8-5.

The Warriors again went confidently to bat, matching runs by Matt Ducharme, Bickerton and Hussey to tie the score 8-8.

Fading light and errors plagued the teams as PCA’s McCormack was charged with a balk, allowing Pratt, the potential game-winning run, to move from second to third just 90 feet from home with only one out. Unfortunately, Pratt would get caught in a pickle for the second out in the bottom of the 11th inning. Foley took the mound and finished off the inning.

A dozen innings later, the Eagles put serious numbers on the board with four runs, while their assistant coach was heard muttering, “Four is not enough, we’ve seen this before,” so they managed two more for security.

WLC had a big job ahead of it, but the determination didn’t fade with the light. Bickerton dropped one into center field. Hussey doubled to left, Stevens had a sacrifice-fly scoring Bickerton and Hussey stole home to make the score 14-10 with the last two batters striking out to end the game.

Catalfo, who scored PCA’s go-ahead run in the top of the 12th, was happy with the outcome.

“It was a great game. I’m proud that we played so hard the entire time even though we made a lot of errors I’m glad we came back and got the win. It felt good.”

Eagles coach Jeff Leduc was equally as happy with the outcome.

“WLC is a great team. It’s a great coached team and it was a tough game,” Leduc said. “Errors hurt us and errors hurt them, and we kept grinding it out and luckily we came out with a win in the 12th inning.”