CHILLICOTHE — When it rains, it pours —and often times in many more ways than one.
For the Minford Falcons on Thursday inside a spacious turned soggy VA Memorial in Chillicothe, they unfortunately bore the brunt of a sixth-inning — and seventh-inning — soaker.
In between, there was in fact an hour and 12-minute rain delay, a definite downpour which didn’t help matters.
That imperfect storm came courtesy of the Fairland Dragons —during the Division III Region 11 semifinal, when the Dragons opened the floodgates for nine consecutive runs over the final two stanzas.
Leading 3-1 at that sixth-inning juncture, and with starting pitcher Cole Borland buckling down for outs, the Falcons fell suddenly behind 4-3 —en route to a heartbreaking loss by a 10-3 final.
That’s correct, a 3-1 lead turned tide south into a seven-run defeat —as 11 Dragons went to the plate in the six-run and five-hit Fairland seventh, mixed in with a sacrifice fly and two Levi Coriell walks.
And, there was an intentional walk by Borland to catcher Cooper Cummings, sandwiched in between those Dragon doubles in the sixth — by Niko Kiritsy and Blake Trevathan.
Trevathan’s double did the damage for the 3-3 tie, crossing Kiritsy and Cummings.
With two outs, the Falcons committed crucial back-to-back errors —the second allowing Trevathan to score the go-ahead run.
But errors aside, Minford coach Anthony Knittel explained his decision to intentionally pass on Cummings in favor of Trevathan.
Perhaps the Falcons face Cummings and collect the second out, but no doubt, the contest turned on a dime.
In all, eight Dragons batted against Borland in the sixth —who was relieved after Brycen Hunt had a leadoff single to open the seventh.
“Cummings is a heckuva player,” said Knittel. “The idea was to set up a double play. To be honest with you, with the way he was swinging it, he was probably going to end up at second base either way, whether we intentionally walked him or not. But we’ve done that all season, being able to pitch around guys, putting them on base to set up a double play. You get a force out, a hard line drive to the left side gives you a force out at third. Just different things we tried to set up and execute, but Trevathan comes up after him and gets a big double. It just didn’t go our way.”
The Falcons’ sudden struggles spilled over into the bottom of the sixth and seventh, when Fairland pitcher Tyler Sammons retired them 1-2-3 for the second and third times in the game.
However, that was terrible Minford timing —which led 2-0 after its initial-bat, before scoring once on three hits for a 3-1 edge in the fourth.
Following Carson Cronin’s fourth-inning single that loaded the bases with two outs, Sammons only allowed one Falcon baserunner over his last 11 faced.
And, that was a Mason Book infield single, despite Book advancing to second on a passed ball — and to third on a balk.
Book was the seventh and final Falcon stranded —all with a two-run lead of either 2-0 or 3-1.
Book was left at second in the first —along with himself and J.D. Matiz after each drew walks in the third.
In the fourth, the Falcons sent seven batters to the dish and scored once on three hits, including an RBI-single by Branson Alley in his final game.
But Alley at third, Matiz at second after another walk, and finally Cronin after an excuse-me single to left were all left aboard in the fourth.
So while the Dragons breathed fire for nine runs late, Minford did little after scoring twice early.
“I was proud of the way we came out offensively, but we didn’t finish,” said Knittel. “We struggled hitting and putting the ball in play. Sammons got comfortable and in a rhythm and executed strikes. Lot of first-pitch strikes. Our boys battled and we had runners in scoring position all day, and right where we wanted to be in the lineup, but we just didn’t execute in those situations.”
Finally, Fairland finished matters off — and off the senior Coriell after the rain delay.
“They hit the baseball, we had three errors in five batters, and we should have been in it there. If we just make plays…and we walked in a couple of runs in the seventh. It’s just like a domino effect,” said Knittel. “One thing just kept happening after another. They got us and were better than us today.”
Indeed, when it rained hard on Thursday at VA Memorial Stadium, the Falcons felt the Dragons’ fire and wrath —without an umbrella or even a poncho.
The Falcons finished at 18-9, and as Southeast District Division III champions for the third consecutive season.
Alley, Coriell and Jacob Lewis are the sole Minford seniors.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved