MOUNT UNION - Mount Union found itself down 7-4 heading into the home side of the sixth but came out of the inning up 11-7 - and almost as quickly as they got the lead, they nearly threw it away.
The Trojans managed to hold on, winning 11-10 in a wild Inter-County Conference baseball game against Bellwood-Antis on Friday afternoon.
Trojans coach Nick Imperioli called it perfectly with his observation of the game.
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE BOYER
Mount Union’s Thad Wakefield dives back to first base as Bellwood-Antis’ Ryan Stuby waits for the ball Friday at Mount Union.
"This game was incredible," he said. "For all the wrong reasons."
The game originally looked like it would be a well-played, low-scoring affair as neither team pushed a run across in the first and the Trojans got two runs in the second on a double, an error and a triple from the bottom of the lineup.
The Blue Devils countered as Haden Degennard and Chad Luensmann walked to start the third before Casey Gary stepped into the box and hit a long drive to left that went over the wall - but just foul. On the very next pitch, Gary hit an identical ball down the left field line, this time clearing the 310 sign in fair territory for a three-run home run giving the Blue Devils a 3-2 lead.
The lead was short lived however, as the Trojans came right back with two runs in the bottom of the third. Ryan McClain doubled, Cory Kylor reached on an error, McClain scored on a Klayton Heffner single and Kylor scored on an RBI ground out by Brandon Rogers.
The Blue Devils scraped up a run in the top of the fourth to tie the game when Jake Stapleton walked, stole second and scored on an RBI double by Degennard. Bellwood took a 5-4 lead in the fifth when Danny Beech reached on an error and pinch runner Cameron Astore stole second on the first pitch and reached third when Mount Union catcher Boomer Brown threw the ball into center field. Astore then scored on a single by Ryan Stuby.
In the sixth Bellwood increased its lead as three hits and an error led to two runs by Gray and Degennard.
Things looked grim for the Trojans entering the sixth but the Blue-Devils changed their pitcher, and when Seth Hunter took the mound the Trojans jumped all over him. Brown, Thad Wakefield, McClain, Trevon Walker and Kylor all reached base safely as they combined for three hits, a walk and an error before Hunter got Darrian Stapleton to strike out.
Things didn't improve much after that as Hunter walked two more and gave up an RBI double to Hunter Atherton that gave the Trojans an 11-7 lead.
Imperioli said he was definitely expecting a lower scoring game, and doesn't know exactly why the game turned out the way it did.
"I don't know, maybe the conditions with the bright sky and the wind, I don't know," Imperioli said. "I don't know if both teams were putting a lot of pressure on themselves. I just don't know what happened."
All the Trojans had to do was get three outs with a four-run lead in the sixth to take the victory, but Tyler McNeils worked a walk, and Degennard hit a routine pop up to right field that was dropped and both runners were safe. Imperioli knew that was a bad sign.
"There was nothing routine in this game today, ground balls, not routine, pop ups not routine," Imperioli said. "In the last inning I tell my pitcher all you gotta do is get it across and we can't get it across."
After the error Luensmann walked, Gray hit a two-run single and reached second as Walker let the ball go past him, which put the tying runs in scoring position. But Kylor got Beech to pop up and for the first out. Kylor then hit Stuby with a curveball that forgot to break, loading the bases with one out.
The next batter, Bryan Lynn, struck out on five pitches, but Bellwood's Jake Stapleton worked a walk, which brought a run in and cut the Trojans' lead to one.
Josh Wortman came up after that but couldn't knock in the run as Kylor got him on a curve ball in the dirt to secure the victory.
The two teams combined for seven errors and 15 walks on the afternoon and Imperioli knew it was a bad game by his team - but also knows that a win is a win.
"What it comes down to is, we made every conceiveable mistake that was possible," Imperioli said. "We made base running mistakes, we made errors, we made bad pitches, we got behind, but we ended up winning. Sometimes you just win ugly and winning ugly is better than the other thing so I'll take it."
The win brings the Trojans to 11-3, 10-2 in the Inter-County Conference North. They head to Claysburg-Kimmel Monday.