Summit baseball keeps winning streak alive with walk-off win over Basalt

Brecken Perlow watches the pitch during the Tigers home opener against the Basalt Longhorns on Tuesday, May 10. The Tigers beat the Longhorns, 15-14 to make it nine straight wins.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

Most sports teams get a bump by playing in front of a home crowd, but the Summit High School baseball team has found success playing exclusively away from home.

The Tigers fought their way to eight straight wins against competitive opponents on the road as they headed into their first home game of the season on Tuesday, May 10. The team’s 18 away games so far this season came in handy as it faced the Basalt Longhorns.

A home opener was originally scheduled a week earlier, May 4, but field issues and inclement weather at the Frisco Peninsula ball field prevented the Tigers from hosting the game.

Sunny skies with a slight breeze welcomed the Tigers Tuesday as the team took the field dressed in its green-pinstriped white uniforms.

Summit junior Zach Willms got the start on the pitching mound as the team looked to improve its ranking in the Colorado 4A classification.

Willms got off to a great start, striking out his first two batters before allowing a hit. The Longhorns eventually brought a run in when a line drive made its way between first and second base.

With three athletes on base, Basalt had a chance to score, but Willms recorded another strikeout to give the Tigers its first at bat.

Brecken Perlow connected with a ball during his first time up to bat, powering the ball all the way to the fence for a double.

Cassius Bradford brought Perlow in on his own hit, which eventually went to the fence after Basalt outfielders scrambled to track the ball in the wind.

A few pitches later Willms dragged a ball over the fence for a two-run homer to make the score 3-1 early on in the game.

In the second inning, Willms started where he left off on the mound, striking out two batters and preventing the Longhorns from scoring. Eager to be at the plate again, Basalt made quick work of Summit in the bottom of the second.

The Summit infield struggled in the top of the third. The team bobbled several balls which led to runners on base for Basalt with only one out. Willms got the Tigers it’s second out, but a missed catch by the Tigers led to two runs brought in by the Longhorns to tie the score at 3. Basalt continued to score off of hot bats in the third, scoring seven runs off of defensive errors and well hit balls.

Summit pitcher Zach Willms winds up for the pitch during the Tigers home opener against the Basalt Longhorns on Tuesday, May 10. The Tigers won, 15-14 with a walk-off hit from Cassius Bradford.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

Summit answered in the bottom of the third when Bradford hit a two-run homer into the surrounding pine trees to bring the score to, 8-5. The Tigers ended the inning with two more runs to go into the fourth inning trailing 8-7.

After an uneventful inning from the Longhorns, the Tigers evened the score in its end of the fourth inning at, 8-8.

With Basalt back in the batter’s box in the fifth inning, the team tried to gain some runs, but Summit prevented that from happening by playing staunch defense.

Jack Schierholz got on base with a double in the bottom of the fifth and was later brought in by a line-drive hit, giving the Tigers the lead back, 9-8.

In the top of the sixth, the Tigers once again had trouble with the Longhorns. Summit found itself without an out and the bases fully loaded. Basalt executed on the situation with a strong triple, which brought in all three of the runners to make the score 11-9. The Longhorns brought in another run to take a 12-9 advantage.

During Summit’s chance at bat, Willms continued to add to the stat sheet as he hit another home run, bringing a runner in with him to bring the Summit deficit to one.

The Longhorns responded with two runs of its own in the final inning, putting the pressure on the Tigers to score three or more runs in its final at bat.

After bringing in two runs early in the bottom of seventh, the Tigers trailed Basalt by one as Bradford stepped up to the plate. Bradford kept refrigerant running in his veins as the junior faced two outs and two strikes while looking to win the game for Summit.

Bradford connected with a ball right down the middle of the strike zone in a do-or-die moment for the team. The ball was sent deep into center field, allowing two runs to come in on a walk-off double to win the game, 15-14.

The feat keeps the Tigers winning streak alive at nine.

“I was just trying to hit the ball hard and stay in the zone,” Bradford said of his thoughts before his game-winning hit. “After our loss to Palisade, we came together and said we wanted to win the rest of our games so we could make it to playoffs, and we have been doing that ever since.”

Bradford ended the game with four hits and six RBIs in. Willms concluded the game with seven strikeouts and four RBIs off of two hits.

The Tigers will look to bring its winning streak to 10 and 11 games on Monday, May 16, when the team travels to Steamboat Springs for a double header.

The Summit baseball team will conclude the regular season with a final home game on Tuesday, May 17, at 2 p.m. at Frisco Peninsula ball field when it takes on Aspen for the team’s senior game.

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