With only two outs to go in the bottom of the sixth and the Trail All Stars leading 5-4, somehow, some way the District 1 Dunbar All Stars escaped the seething jaws of defeat.
A thrilling extra inning match up against Dunbar ended in despair for the Trail All Stars and in jubilation for the visitors, as the host team lost 6-5 in a dramatic finish at the B.C. Little League championships late Tuesday.
After fighting back from a 4-0 deficit to take a 5-4 lead in the top of the sixth inning, Dunbar tied it in the bottom half and went on to seize the victory in extra innings.
Trail put runners on first and third with two out in the top of the seventh inning. Quin Hall then sent a towering fly ball to deep right, but it settled into the glove of the Dunbar centre fielder just a few feet from the fence and Dunbar breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Thomas Hemer then led off the bottom of the extra frame with a single, and Will Andrews got on base on an error and Hemer advanced to second. A full swing bunt by the next batter caught the boys on their heels, and the bases were loaded with none out.
With the infield pulled in and the count 2 and 2, Jack Hemsworth hit a ground ball to short, the relay home sailed wide and Hemer crossed the plate for the winning run.
The see-saw affair was arguably one of the best games played this week, and Dunbar manager Dave Hemer was proud of the way his team battled to the end.
“I want to go out fighting every night,” said Hemer. “We had a let up last night against White Rock so we had a chat about coming out here focused and bringing everything to the floor and fight, fight, fight and that’s what they did, they pulled it off, and that’s what I wanted to see.”
The game was scoreless after three and a half innings, when Dunbar’s bats heated up. Dylan Letvinchuk singled, and the next batter grounded to third for a potential double play, but the throw to second pulled infielder Dawson Denbiesen off the bag to put runners on first and second.
Hemer then stepped up and took a 1-1 pitch over the centre field fence to make it 3-0 Dunbar.
With the score 4-0, the Trail All Stars rallied. They loaded the bases in the top of five on a Brendan Makay walk, and Kian Johnston beat out a grounder to put runners on first and second, followed by a Jon Ballarin walk. With two out and the bases loaded, Colton Miracle, who gave up the homer to Hemer in the previous inning, stepped up to the plate. With the count 2 and 1, Miracle jacked the next pitch out of the park for the grand slam to tie the game at 4-4.
Trail would take the lead in the sixth when the speedy Hall chopped a ball over the third baseman’s head and stretched it into a double. Makay then bunt-singled sending Hall to third as Kian Johnston came to the plate. With two strikes, Johnston got the bat on the ball and sent a fly to shallow centre. Hall tagged up and beat the throw to the plate to make it 5-4 Trail.
With three outs left, Trail seemed poised for victory, but after getting Hemsworth to ground out, Jamie Catliff hammered a 2-2 pitch over the centre field fence to tie the game and force the extra inning.
When asked how Dunbar managed to keep its composure following an incredible Trail comeback, Hemer replied, “We hauled them into a huddle and we told those kids, ‘Look we got two more bats let’s do it, lets keep it up. There up by one, I don’t care what the score is, let’s just keep battling.’”
Dunbar now sits at 3-1 and has the inside track on a playoff berth as it gets set to play Hastings today. Hemer likes the team’s chances.
“It lines us up very well. You get two wins in this with six teams, we have a very good chance of getting to the semis. The kids are up, we’re happy, and we’ll take it. Trail was a great competitor, they didn’t give up either, so we’re very, very happy.”
Trail still has an outside chance at the playoff if they beat Forest Hills Tuesday night and Beacon Hill tonight.
Trail’s final game of the round robin goes against Beacon Hill tonight at 5 p.m.