The Thunder Mountain Falcons showed grit and the ability to come through in the clutch Saturday, outlasting Wasilla 9-8 in nine innings at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
Co-manager Bill McCauley said he was pleased with the way his team was able to rally.
“This was a game that allowed kids to mature,” he said. “That’s what was really pleasing to me. It was a close game and the kids responded really well.
“I was really pleased that we were able to focus there at the end,” he continued. “Both teams responded with good pitching and good defense in the final innings, and both teams threatened to score in the seventh, eighth and ninth, and we were lucky to be the home team and have a guy score in the bottom of the ninth.”
Xavier Dunn’s ninth-inning RBI grounder to score Gus Swanton helped the Falcons complete their come-from-behind victory over the visiting
Warriors. TMHS trailed 8-5 after the first half of the sixth inning but rallied for three runs in the bottom half, and held Wasilla in the seventh to force extra innings.
The Falcons jumped to an early lead in the bottom half of the second as Xavier Dunn doubled to deep center to score Swanton, who also doubled.
But Wasilla rallied for three runs in the third, as Brody Coleman led off with a sharp single to left, and then scored on an RBI double by Keith Pulver. David Newman followed with an RBI triple to score Pulver, and later scored on the throw from a dropped third strike to give the Warriors a 3-1 lead.
Pulver came through again in the fourth with a two-run single to score both Ben Fielder and Coleman, pushing Wasilla’s lead to 5-1.
Dustin Rumfelt cut into the deficit in the bottom half of the fourth with a two-out, two-run single to the left-center gap, bringin the Falcons within two.
TMHS continued to rally in the fifth inning as Chatham Miller led off with a base hit down the left-field line that was misplayed by the outfielder, allowing him to reach third on the play. Miller later scored on a passed ball to bring TMHS within a run. Swanton knotted the score at five with an RBI double to score Jackson Pavitt, who had singled.
But Wasilla showed they weren’t done yet, tallying three runs in the sixth inning to take a commanding 8-5 lead.
Trailing by three in the bottom half of the sixth, the Falcons went to work.
Anais Sadeghi and Rumfelt drew back-to-back walks to start off the sixth, prompting Wasilla to go to the bullpen.
Brian Mielke laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, and Miller drew a walk to load the bases. Two batters later, Pavitt came through with a clutch, two-run double to left-center field to tie the game at eight.
Both teams were held in check in the seventh inning, pushing the game into extras. Wasilla threatened to score in both the eighth and ninth innings, but clutch defense in the eighth and a base running mistake in the ninth helped the Falcons escape unscathed.
Swanton led off the bottom half of the ninth with a single down the left field line and was advanced to second on Dylan Johnson’s sacrifice bunt. Swanton took third on an errant pick off, setting the stage for Dunn, whose ground ball to the shortstop was enough to bring in the run and get the Falcon’s their third victory of the season.
Johnson, who started the game for the Falcons and pitched into the fourth inning, came back in relief to pick up the victory.
TMHS bats go flat, fall to Wasilla 9-4
A night after pounding Wasilla by a score of 10-3, the Falcons fell to the Warriors 9-4 in a game where TMHS managed just four hits on the night.
“I thought we came out flat and that’s not unusual for a new team,” co-manager Bill McCauley said of his team’s performance Friday night. “Wasilla outplayed us. We were a little tentative attacking the ball defensively, and we need to fix that. We’re still not hitting very well. We just need more practice there.”
Ben Bullock, who started the game for the Falcons, lasted 3 2/3 innings before being relieved by Dustin Rumfelt.
“I thought Benny pitched fine,” McCauley said. “He wasn’t his sharp self, but he pitched fine. We just didn’t support him with offense or defense.”
The Falcons made five errors in the field, two coming on errant pick-off attempts.
Wasilla scratched across a run in the first inning to take an early 1-0 lead on a Keith Pulver groundout that scored Brody Coleman, who lead off the game with a single.
The Falcons evened things up at one run apiece in the bottom half of the first when leadoff hitter Chatham Miller drew a walk, stole second base, advanced to third on a Dylan Johnson groundout and then scored on a passed ball.
The Warriors struck for three runs in the second inning as the middle part of their lineup strung together four straight base hits, followed by a Falcon error to help make the score 4-1 in favor of Wasilla.
The Warriors tacked on two more in the fourth as another fielding error, followed by a David Newman single, and a double off the centerfield fence by John Stormont, helped give Wasilla a 6-1 lead. Stormont later scored in the inning on an RBI single up the middle by Ben Fielder, pushing the advantage to 7-1.
Xavier Dunn drew a leadoff walk to start of the bottom half of the fourth inning, took second base on a passed ball, advanced to third on a Camden Thomas infield single off the Wasilla pitcher’s shin, and scored on another passed ball to cut the deficit to 7-2.
Down 9-2 in the sixth, the Falcons attempted to mount a comeback as Bullock led off the inning with a sharp single up the middle and was advanced to third on a double to the left-center gap off the bat of Jackson Pavitt. Bullock later scored on a passed ball and TMHS tacked on one more run as Dunn came across to score on a sac fly to left by Gus Swanton.
But that would be all the Falcons could muster.
Wasilla starter Ian Stormont pitched into the sixth inning to pick up the victory. He limited the Falcons to just four hits while recording three strikeouts in the win.