West Delaware’s baseball season came to an end July 22 when Central DeWitt pushed across a run in the bottom of the 16th inning to win, 4-3, capping off a district final game that was part brawl, part chess match and one the fans who were at DeWitt to watch won’t soon forget.
The game featured stellar pitching from both teams that saw the Hawks and the Sabers try their best to push a go-ahead run across in a game that lasted four hours and 12 minutes.
The Hawks struck first, scoring all three of their runs in the second inning. After a walk to Ben Ridenour with one out, a double by Luke Kehrli put runners on second and third. A heads-up play by Central DeWitt shortstop Devin Hurdle on Zach Goebel’s ground out kept both runners from advancing. But Logan Woellert’s single scored both runners to make it 2-0. After Woellert advanced to third, Kyle Cole’s single made it 3-0.
Those were the only Hawk runs of the night.
The Sabers answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second. With the bases loaded and two outs, an error led to the first Saber run. A two-out single by Hurdle added the second, making the score 3-2.
West Delaware starting pitcher Cole went four innings before being relieved by Nick Casey. Cole allowed four hits, no earned runs and recorded one strikeout.
The Hawks threatened in the top of the sixth. With two outs, Ridenour drew another walk. Isaac Fettkether pinch ran for Ridenour and moved from first to third on a single by Kehrli. Kehrli took second on the throw to third by the Sabers trying to cut down Fettkether. Goebel’s scorching liner was caught by Hurdle to end the Hawk threat.
Central DeWitt’s starting pitcher, Lucas Bixby, threw eight innings before being relieved by Alex McAleer. Bixby allowed five hits and struck out four.
The Sabers could do little offensively against Casey, who threw seven innings, allowing just two hits and recording nine strikeouts.
The Sabers threatened to win it in the ninth, with runners on second and third with two outs. After an intentional walk to Hurdle loaded the bases, Casey struck out McAleer to end the inning.
Central DeWitt threatened again in the 10th with runners on first and second, but Casey struck out Bixby to end the inning.
West Delaware threatened in the 11th. Connor Funk pinch-hit to lead off the inning and singled. With one out, Kehrli singled, putting runners on first and second. But a sacrifice bunt attempt was caught by McAleer, who threw to second to double off Funk and end the Hawk threat.
West Delaware looked to take the lead in the 12th, but Casey’s sharp liner to center field with runners on first and third was caught to end the inning.
Jared Voss relieved Casey in the 12th. Central DeWitt had a baserunner on first when Nolan Haack drew a one-out walk. But Voss struck out the next batter and then covered first when Kehrli went deep in the hole for a grounder and threw to Voss covering the bag to end the inning.
Kehrli doubled with two outs in the top of the 13th, but the Hawks couldn’t capitalize.
In the bottom of the inning, Hurdle walked with one out, stole second and advanced to third on an errant throw. With one out, the Hawk coaching staff elected to intentionally walk McAleer and Garrett Finley, loading the bases.
Voss responded by striking out Tucker Kinney for the second out and later caught Hurdle attempting to steal home for the final out.
In the bottom of the 15th, the Sabers put runners on first and second with one out only to see Voss coax a couple pop-up outs from McAleer and Finley to end the inning.
Fettkether was hit by a pitch to lead off the 16th. He stole second and advanced to third when the throw skirted into the outfield. But McAleer struck out the next three Hawk hitters, stranding Fettkether.
Voss retired the first two Sabers he faced in the bottom of the frame. But singles by Haack and Bixby put runners on second and third for Boomer Johnson, whose ground ball was bobbled, allowing Haack to score the winning run.
Voss struck out three and allowed three hits in his 4 2/3 innings of work.
West Delaware had nine hits, with Kehrli going 3-for-6, Voss 2-for-7, Casey 1-for-7, Cole 1-for-6, Woellert 1-for-6 and Funk 1-for-1.
West Delaware stranded 11 baserunners, while Central DeWitt stranded 18.
The Hawks finish their season 15-25-1, while the Sabers improved to 36-3.