WINONA LAKE – Grace’s baseball team came up agonizingly close to extending its season but fell in the regular season finale to Bethel.
The Lancers, who needed a sweep on Tuesday to qualify for the Crossroads League Tournament, beat Bethel 15-13 in the opener. But Bethel snuck out an 8-6 win in 10 innings to end the doubleheader and Grace’s season.
The first game was a wild affair, featuring 28 runs, 24 hits, 8 doubles and 5 home runs. Grace had to rally three times, scoring 12 runs between the fifth and sixth innings to accomplish a memorable comeback.
Bethel scored a single run in the first and second innings, but the Lancers had a response with the long ball. In the bottom of the second, Houston Haney and Gabe Douglass hit solo home runs to tie the game at 2-2.
David Anderson followed suit with a leadoff solo homer in the fourth to put Grace ahead.
The game picked up steam starting in the fifth inning. Bethel seized the lead with a six-run outburst in the top of the inning, keyed by a three-run home run.
Grace had a response again. The Lancers regained the lead 9-8 with six runs of their own. Haney’s double brought in two runs, and Austin Baker, Haney, Anderson and Mitchell Enyart also plated in the inning.
The Pilots refused to fade, however, and plated another five runs in the top of the sixth. Bethel grabbed what seemed to be a comfortable 13-9 lead, but Grace was not fazed with its season on the line.
The Lancers took the lead for good with six runs in the bottom of the sixth. Haney hit his second homer of the day with a three-run belt to start the rally. Enyart, Ethan Brooks and Cameron Maxwell also drove in runs during the frame.
Jordan Noska was called in from the bullpen to finish the game in the top of the seventh. The sophomore made good on his chance, striking out two of the three batters he faced to pick up the save.
Haney hit 3-for-6 with 2 home runs, 1 double, 3 runs and 6 RBIs in a dominant performance. Anderson was 3-for-4 with three runs scored, and he also threw a laser from right field defensively to eliminate a potential Pilot from scoring early in the game.
Baker finished 3-for-4 with two runs, Ackerman had two hits and two runs, Brooks drove in a pair of runs, and Douglass tallied two runs and two RBIs.
Grace got off to a good start in the second game thanks to the sharp pitching of Anderson. The Pilots did not record a hit until the fourth inning, allowing the Lancers to earn an early 2-0 lead.
Maxwell led off the first inning with a single and eventually scored on two separate throwing errors. In the third, Baker drove in another run to double the lead.
Bethel finally got to Anderson in the sixth inning with a solo home run to cut Grace’s lead to 2-1, and the Pilots took the lead with four runs in the seventh.
The Lancers managed to tie the game 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh thanks to a two-run blast by Anderson.
Bethel scored on an errant throw in the top of the ninth, and Grace was down to its final out in the bottom of the inning. Anderson started the inning with a walk and reached third base with a bunt and a passed ball.
With two outs, Anderson alertly scampered home on another wild pitch by the Pilots to send the game to extra innings.
But Bethel won the game with a two-run homer in the top of the 10th, and Grace was retired 1-2-3 in its final at-bats to end the year.
Anderson batted 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs, and Brooks was 2-for-4 with two runs.