By Dave Tomczak
EGELSTON TOWSHIP – The Ravenna baseball team’s West Michigan Conference title hopes are still alive, but just barely.
The Bulldogs rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring three runs, to grab an exciting 8-7 win over conference-leading Oakridge in the second game of a doubleheader on Tuesday.
But Oakridge had already wrapped up at least a share of the conference championship by then, beating the Bulldogs 5-4 in Game 1.
The split leaves Oakridge with an 11-1 record in the West Michigan Conference with two league games remaining. Ravenna is now 9-3, and would need two wins and two Oakridge losses to gain a share of the title.
The title will be determined next Tuesday, with Ravenna taking on Shelby in a doubleheader and the Eagles facing North Muskegon in a twin bill.
Oakridge was only three outs away from clinching the outright championship in Game 2 on Tuesday.
The Eagles built a 4-0 lead after one inning and led 5-0, before the Bulldogs scored five runs in the fourth, on three hits and three Oakridge errors, to tie the game.
The Eagles’ Morgan Meinders had a RBI sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth, and Koleman Wall had an RBI double in the top of the sixth, to rebuild a 7-5 lead.
“We just had an implosion in that one inning,” said Oakridge Coach Brandon Barry. “But we did do what we had to do. We played some small ball and got back up by two runs.”
But Ravenna loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, and Brandon Redding delivered.
The Bulldogs’ third baseman lined a single into left field to score two runs and tie the game, then an Oakridge overthrow allowed the winning run to score.
“Most of the time we get ahead and stay ahead,” said Ravenna Coach Paul Herremans. “This is only the second time all year we’ve had to come from behind.”
Redding also picked up the win on the mound for Ravenna, pitching an inning of relief, and finished the game with three RBIs. Caleb McCullough drove in two runs.
Ravenna pitcher Austin Sied struck out six in six innings of work.
TJ Ruel pitched six innings for Oakridge in the Game 2 loss, striking out seven, while Meinders finished with two RBIs.
In the opener, the Eagles scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to grab the win and clinch at least a share of the conference championship. Wall had three hits, including a home run and a double, and pitched 6 1/3 innings for the win. Ruel picked up the save.
“It was just one of those days,” Barry said. “Paul (Herremans) is probably saying they should have won Game 1, and I’m saying we probably should have won Game 2.”