ALBION -- Pender advanced to the Class C Seniors baseball championship game, but not without some drama.
Wilber nearly came back after Pender had a 9-3 lead entering the bottom of the seventh inning, needing back-to-back strikeouts by Wayne State College pitcher Aaron Ras with the potential tying run standing at first base to end the game.
It all started on a botched grounder to begin the inning. Pitcher Lucas Vogt walked the next two batters, prompting coach Clay Haymart to bring in Ras. A passed ball scored the first run, and then another walk loaded the bases again. Another Wilber run scored on a sacrifice groundout, before yet another walk loaded the bases for the third time.
Coltin Rezabek delivered Wilber’s third hit of the game, a two-run single into shallow right field to represent the tying run at first base. Ras finally settled down, working the inside corner for consecutive strikeouts to stop the rally short.
Layne Heese had a no-hitter until a single with one out in the fifth, getting the win after allowing just two hits and three runs, two earned, on 62 pitches in 4 2/3 innings. Vogt threw 1 1/3 innings of no-hit relief, but he walked three batters and struck out two. Ras got the save despite walking two and giving up one run on one hit.
Before that, Pender was cruising, scoring four runs on three hits, including a RBI single by Brady Oliver and a run-scoring double by Layne Heese, in the fourth inning for a 5-1 lead. That came after Pender left five runners on base in the first two innings.
Both teams scored two runs in the fifth, and Pender added two more in the sixth on a two-out rally.
Pinch hitter Jordan Springer hit a bouncing grounder toward second base. The ball was initially mishandled, and then the throw took the first baseman away from the bag, allowing Springer to reach and Heese to score a run and Lucas Vogt to reach third. Springer stole second, making the Wilber catcher throw that direction, and then Eric Schopke – who came in to run for the reliever Vogt moments earlier – scored standing up on a wild throw.
Pender 001 422 0 – 9 10 2
Wilber 010 020 4 – 7 3 2
WP: Layne Heese. LP: Preston Lee. SV: Aaron Ras. 2B: (PEN) Hunter Ferguson, Heese, Nick Ronnfeldt. SB: (PEN) Ras, Lucas Vogt, Jared Tyrell 2, Jordan Springer; (WIL) Tanner Sand. SAC: (PEN) Ferguson, Heese; (WIL) Josh Kalkwarf.