Cardington’s late rally fell just short in their home sectional final baseball game with Ridgedale Wednesday, as the Pirates suffered a 10-8 loss to the Rockets to see their season end at 15-13.
Poor defense in the early innings put Cardington in a 5-0 hole and Ridgedale was able to hold leads of 7-1 and 9-3 before a four-run sixth inning tightened up the game.
Trailing 10-7 going into the bottom of the seventh, the first two Pirate batters were quickly retired. However, Josh Shook was able to draw a walk and Danny Vaught drove him in with a double. Nico Wade then was walked and a wild pitch put the runners on second and third with the potential winning run at the plate. However, the Rockets were able to induce a fly ball to right field to end the game.
“Early in the game against a team that competes every single play like Ridgedale, you can’t give them extra outs,” said Pirate coach Jack Bault. “Credit to our guys, they didn’t quit. They competed to the last out.”
Defensive woes staked Ridgedale to a big lead in the contest. While they were held to two hits and a walk in the first two innings, four Cardington errors kept those innings alive and resulted in the Rockets holding a 5-0 lead.
The Pirates got on the board in the bottom of the second, as Trey Brininger opened the inning with a single and advanced to second on a passed ball. With two outs, Tucker Thompson drove him in to make it 5-1.
Unfortunately for the locals, Ridgedale would expand their lead in the fourth inning, recording a pair of scores to lead by six. The Rockets added another run in the top of the fifth, but Cardington was able to fight back in the bottom of the inning. Wade and Avery Harper hit back-to-back one-out singles. Wade was then driven in by a Brininger double, while Harper scored on a misplayed grounder by Kolton Honeter.
Still, the Pirates trailed 8-3 and that margin would become 9-3 after Ridgedale added a run in the top of the sixth. One big inning would get the team back into the game, though. Quinton Chalfant led off the home half of the sixth with a single and a hit by Thompson put runners on first and second. Shook drove in one run with a single, while Vaught drove in a second with a double. A wild pitch made it 9-6. Wade would then pop up, but the ball was dropped to put runners on first and third.
Another Rocket error put Harper on base and scored another run, bringing Cardington within two with no one out in the inning. Ridgedale would buckle down after that, though, recording three consecutive outs with no more damage done. Ridgedale would then survive one more inning to hold off the Pirates and end their season.
While disappointed in the game’s result, Bault was pleased with how his team turned what appeared to be a lopsided defeat into a thriller that came down to the final play.
“One of the things I told the guys was in previous seasons or even the beginning of the year, we might have folded,” he said. “That shows the progression of our program.”
The coach added that the Pirates reached his goal of a 15-win season and with a lot of young players playing key roles, have the potential for even more success next year.
“Next year, we have a lot of our core guys back,” he said. “We told them there’s no reason we can’t be in the top half of the league and make a postseason run. That starts with offseason work. I think they’re ready for the challenge.”
Eight total errors in the game played a big role in the outcome, as pitchers Wade and Honeter were only charged with two earned runs. They combined to strike out four, walk four and surrender eight hits. Cardington had 13 hits in the game. Vaught had two doubles and a single, while Brininger had a double and single. Wade contributed three singles.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS