Summit Black Diamonds gear up for playoffs
Special to the Daily
With playoff implications on the line and the regular season coming to a close, week No. 5 was the most important yet for Summit Extreme Black Diamonds Baseball.
Eagle Valley Eagles
The first rubber-match was at home against league-worst Eagle Valley. It seemed a perfect opportunity for Summit (12-12) to pad their 2nd place and clinch a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
Eagle Valley got off to a hot start with four runs in the first inning, but Summit would gradually chip away at this Eagle lead. By the sixth, things looked very promising as the Diamonds were down only one with two men on and no outs. Unfortunately, SBD would strand both runners; which left them in an all too familiar sink-or-swim situation in the seventh. The comeback kids couldn’t muster any runs in this final frame and dropped game one 11-10.
“We had our chances…just couldn’t come up with a big hit,” said a disappointed coach Nick Eversole.
Game two, however, was a completely different story, with Summit jumping off to a 8-0 lead after three. Five of these runs came off of back-to-back Thomas Debonville homers, which gave the incoming freshman his first ever multi-home run game.
The Diamonds extended this lead to 10-1 in the fifth off of Matt Beasely’s 13th dinger on the year.
“It was pretty exciting because I’ve been stuck on 12 for awhile … I was in a slump for about a week, but now, I’m starting to see the ball a lot better,” said Beasely.
The game was far from over though as a string of EV homers and Summit errors allowed the Eagles to close the deficit to 10-5 in the sixth. Eversole called on Illinois Valley reliever Buddy Ahlstrom to slow the fire, and extinguish he did — allowing only one run across while stranding two.
Summit added two insurance runs in the 6th and Ahlstrom confidently retired the Eagles 1-2-3 in the seventh for the 12-6 win.
“We should’ve won both, but it’s really good that our last games are at home. We’re 6-2 at home on the year so we should push that to 10-2 and take some momentum into the playoffs,” said an enthusiastic Beasely.
But, oh, if Beasely’s words had been true-Thursday’s doubleheader against the Glenwood Springs Geckos was canceled due to unplayable field conditions, which caused Summit to lose pivotal ground in the playoff hunt. They wouldn’t hit the dirt again until Saturday against Steamboat (12-14).
Summit High grad Mitch Grey got off to a great start on the mound with two K’s and only two hits given up over two innings. A disastrous third, which included three Steamboat homers and three Summit errors however, gave the Storm a comfortable 13-1 lead.
A late rally brought the Diamonds within breathing distance, but their comeback would fall short as Steamboat took game one 15-13.
With the opportunity to finish second erased, a more dire playoff scenario emerged. A loss in game two meant that Summit would fall to fifth in the league and lose home field advantage to start the playoffs. A win meant a third place finish and an opening game at home.
Unlike Tuesday’s game two, Summit showed little urgency and fell behind 7-2 in the fourth. It was here that Eversole could take no more.
“I pulled them together, and told them, ‘We really need to get our best swings off; last game of the year …we can’t hold anything back,’” said Eversole.
A Nick Roubidoux homer and clutch RBI hitting from Buddy Ahlstrom and Chad Pigg in the 5th inched Summit back to 7-7. Defense was also solid during this stretch with LaGrange College pitcher Stephen Coelho stranding four over two innings. Ahlstrom then carried the torch in the 7th; throwing a scoreless inning with one strikeout.
With bases loaded, two outs and the score tied in the final seventh, it seemed like Hollywood scripted-destiny that Summit would take a win.
Up to the plate next stepped Summit’s version of Wesley Snipes: Christian Cathey. The Derby, Kansas, native already had one game-winning hit earlier this year, and no one seemed better for the job on Saturday. Cathey quickly jumped on a 1-0 pitch; plopping the ball into shallow left field, which sent Bima across the plate with the game winning run. Cathey was tackled shortly after by his overjoyed teammates.
“Nothing beats that feeling,” said an exuberant and breathless Cathey. “You always want to be the guy that goes up there and gets a walk off. That’s just the coolest thing to do … it’s what people remember.”
The comeback win was the sisxth of the year for Summit. With the split Summit finishes the regular season 14-14 and third in the MWSCB.
Inconsistent play seen in week no. 5 was a microcosm of Summit’s season as a whole. If the team can improve their defensive toughness they should be able to make a deep postseason run. SBD faced off against #6 seed Eagle Valley in the first round of playoffs Monday. For live updates and game results follow @SDNSportsDesk and @SummitEBD on Twitter.
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