Summit Extreme Black Diamonds end regular season with frustrating 6-game homestand
Special to the Daily
SBD in the playoffs
After wrapping up Week 5 at 14-15, the locals boys now look for redemption in the first round of the league post-season tournament against an old foe: the equally matched Vail Vipers (14-15). The first round of playoff games started Monday in Frisco.
For live game updates at the league tourney, check out @SumCoSports or @SummitEBD on Twitter. It’s a double-elimination tourney with all six teams in the league, ending July 16 with the championship game.
With the playoffs just a week away, Week Five of Summit Extreme Black Diamonds (SBD) baseball was the most important yet. After a grueling, road-heavy schedule, SBD finally got some rest and redemption with a weeklong, six-game homestand.
Eagle Valley Eagles — July 5
SBD kicked things off with a doubleheader against the Eagle Valley Eagles (5-19). The week started with a log jam in the (MWSCBL) standings — spots two through five were within two or three games — and a Summit sweep over Eagle was valuable for playoff seeding.
Unfortunately, a sweep was not in the cards for the Black Diamonds. Perhaps feeling a bit rusty after the July 4 holiday, SBD was walloped in Game One, 14-8.
Summit woke up from their slumber in Game Two. The Diamonds put on a quality defensive performance to win a hard-fought affair, 7-5.
With the split, Summit was 11-12 on the season and tied for fourth in the league.
Glenwood/Carbondale Geckos — July 7
A great challenge came to the Black Diamonds Thursday when they squared off against the league-best Glenwood/Carbondale Geckos (22-5). The Geckos were allowing a paltry 5.74 runs per game and defense was critical for Summit in this doubleheader. It was also a call to action for the Summit defense, which allowed a whopping 8.95 runs per game on the season.
In Game One, Summit wasted no time dusting off their bats with a 9-4 lead by the bottom of the third.
That inning proved critical for SBD, as they added even more insurance to their lead. After scoring a quick first run, Summit loaded the bases on a combination of singles and walks. Up to the plate next stepped Noah Prewitt, who will play Division I ball at San Diego University next spring.
After battling a few pitches, Prewitt found one to his liking and sent it deep over the left field fence. Prewitt’s grand slam blew the game open and upped Summit’s lead to 14-4.
In the fourth and fifth, Spencer Franko (Iowa Central C.C.) held the Geckos scoreless to give Summit the win with mercy rule in effect. The game was a big milestone for Franko, as it was the pitcher’s first complete game this summer and first since he was in high school.
“I just went out there and tried to pound the zone,” Franko said. “I just went out there and trusted my defense behind me and they made plays for me, and the offense gave me the biggest confidence in the world.”
Another impressive feat: It was the first (and only) time this season the Geckos lost by mercy rule.
In the afternoon finale, the Geckos struck first when Andrew Aguilar stole home. In the bottom of the first inning, Summit’s Blake Butcher of LaGrange College responded with a two-run home run that put Summit up, 2-1. The home run was the 13th this season for the MWSCBL All-Star game MVP.
In the third, the Geckos bounced back by hitting three singles before scoring on two balks for a 3-2 lead.
The seesaw match continued in the bottom of the third frame, when Summit loaded the bases on a perfectly placed bunt from Alex Sorensen (Mesa C.C.). Butcher followed this up with a sacrifice fly that tied it up, and then a double from his college teammate, Blaine Swift (LaGrange College), put Summit back in the driver’s seat. By the time the inning was over, SBD had a 6-3 lead.
Tom Novick (San Diego U.) kept the Geckos off the board in the fourth — only to let them creep closer in the fifth. Two walks and a single to lead off the inning scored one, and then an error from Tavin Thompson (LaGrange College) scored another.
In the 6th, Novick calmed down and retired the Geckos, one-two-three, but Summit couldn’t capitalize on offense, leaving two base runners stranded when Butcher got caught in a pickle.
The home team’s inability to pad the lead led to dramatics in the seventh. Two quick singles from Tanner Nieslanik and Blake Billinger paved the way for a killer three-run homer by Gecko Caden Goldby.
Tyler Daugherty (Scottsdale C.C.) entered for Novick on the mound and was able to put out the fire, but Summit still needed two runs to stay alive in the bottom of final frame.
Summit got exactly that thanks to a sacrifice fly from Trevor Rosenberg (San Diego U.) and crucial RBI single from Prewitt that scored Tanner Bowden (Iowa Central C.C.) SBD couldn’t get any more across in that inning, but they had still forced an eighth inning — one of the first extra-innings affairs in team history.
But, alas, it wouldn’t end pretty. In the top of the eighth the Geckos cranked out three more runs, followed in the bottom by singles from Thompson, Sorensen and Butcher. The Diamonds mustered just one run to match and dropped the game, 11-9.
“They just had a big hit and we didn’t — that’s it all comes down to,” Thompson said. “Just weren’t able to come back in that last inning.”
Despite the loss Thompson had a blockbuster day, going 6-8 at the plate.
Steamboat Storm — July 9
SBD entered the regular-season finale series at 13-14 overall with a lot at stake: If they could win both games against the Storm, they were guaranteed third place in the league standings and home-field advantage against cellar-dwelling Eagle Valley in the first round of the playoffs.
In Game One, it appeared Summit had the right stuff. Behind stellar pitching from Summit native Luke Egging (McCook C.C.), the boys took a healthy 8-3 lead late into the seventh.
Perhaps it was fatigue — or maybe just hot Storm bats — but, whatever it was, Steamboat tagged Egging for five runs to notch the game at 8-8.
Summit couldn’t score any in the bottom of the seventh, which led to the second extra-inning game in two days for the squad.
Much like Thursday’s second game against the Geckos, Summit had little defense in overtime and the Storm pounded another five runs for the lead, 13-8. The Diamond batters were retired quickly in the bottom of the eighth and SBD lost their second game in a row in heartbreaking fashion.
Spirits were low but motivation couldn’t have been higher for the Black Diamonds, as they had a small chance to enter playoffs in third.
SBD jumped out early with a 2-0 lead thanks to fine base running from the home team and defensive miscues from the Storm.
In the third, Steamboat struck back. The Storm pegged Summit starter Zach Grenell (Iowa Central C.C.) for two triples and a balk to go 4-2. Thankfully, in the bottom of the frame, Summit responded just the same: great base running from Nick Boys (Iowa Central C.C.) and a big Daugherty triple scored four for Summit, putting them up 6-4.
Steamboat tied it up with two in the fourth, followed by another four from Summit in the fifth. Swift came in a relief pitcher and kept the Storm off the bases, securing a crucial 10-6 win.
With the win Summit finished the regular season 14-15 but still missed the cushy third-place finish, ending at fourth in the MWSCBL.
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