WINONA LAKE – Grace’s baseball team was down to its final strike on Monday, trailing in the series-deciding game against Huntington.
The Foresters, who had won the opening game of the day 12-2, were poised to clinch the three-game series with a 9-8 lead with two outs in the ninth inning.
But the Lancers strung together four straight hits with two outs, capped off by a walkoff single from Branden Scott. Scott’s single brought in Sid Elford, giving Grace a 10-9 win and sending the Lancers’ bench pouring onto the diamond in celebration.
The Lancers (9-12, 5-7 Crossroads League) won their second league series of the season, taking down the second-place Foresters (12-9, 8-4 CL).
Huntington controlled the opening game thanks to a pair of big innings. The game was scoreless through two innings before Huntington got on the scoreboard.
The Foresters scored four runs in the third with just two hits, using two walks and a double to move runners across the plate.
RJ Snyder helped spark Grace’s offense in the bottom of the third, stealing second base and running home on a single to center field.
But Huntington seized control by tacking on five runs in the fourth, and Grace never threatened again.
Grace was outhit 10-4 in the loss. Aaron Voirol did not allow an earned run to score for the final two innings from the mound.
In the second game, offense was on display from the start. The Foresters scored three runs in the top of the first, benefitting from three doubles and a timely error by Grace.
But Grace responded with an outburst of its own. Sam Newkirk started the scoring with a solo home run. After a pair of walks, Houston Haney launched a three-run bomb over the outfield fence to put the Lancers ahead.
Chris Griffin added to Grace’s lead with a double to plate Hunter Ackerman and make the score 5-3 after one inning.
Both teams scored a single run in the second frame to keep the offensive momentum going.
The teams could scarcely be separated as the game progressed. The Lancers led 7-5 after four innings. Newkirk tripled in the fourth, and he was brought home after a single from Xavier Harris.
But Huntington regained the lead with a two-run fifth and a two-run seventh, pulling ahead 9-7. Grace threatened in both the fifth and sixth innings with runners in scoring position, but both innings ended with a double play.
In the bottom of the eighth, Griffin belted a 3-2 pitch over the center field fence to trim Huntington’s margin to 9-8.
The Foresters were retired 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth, setting up a memorable finish at Miller Athletic Complex.
Grace’s first two batters in the ninth were retired, and Ackerman was down to his final strike. But Ackerman kept the Lancers’ hopes alive with a single to left field. Elford followed that up with another single to put the winning run on base.
Griffin tied the score with a single to right field, plating Ackerman and moving Elford to third base.
Scott took care of the rest, singling on a 1-2 count to score Elford’s series-deciding run.
Newkirk was electric at the plate, going 4-of-5 with two runs scored, and Griffin batted 3-of-4 with three RBIs.
David Anderson hit 3-for-4 with a run, Haney drove in three runs, and Ackerman scored twice with one hit and two walks.
Elford was 2-for-4, and Scott finished 2-for-5.
Voirol got the win from the mound, refusing to yield a run or a hit over the final 2.1 innings with three strikeouts.
The Lancers will head to Siena Heights on Tuesday for a 3 p.m. doubleheader.