For most of Monday evening’s game against defending Class 4A state champion Roncalli, the Franklin baseball team was making life a little too easy for the Rebels’ pitchers.
“We were flying out a lot,” Franklin coach Ryan Feyerabend said. “We were trying to preach get the ball on the ground, hard line drives — and it kind of turned for us in the late innings.”
The Grizzly Cubs got it figured out just in time, smacking three line-drive base hits in the bottom of the seventh to cap a 6-5 comeback victory.
Down a run after Roncalli scored in the top of the inning, Franklin (8-8) got a spark from Kyle Davis, who led off with a base hit and then displayed some heady baserunning when he advanced all the way to third on a sacrifice bunt by Stone Peddycord.
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Luke Miles tied the game, plating Davis with a single, and after Alec MacLennan reached on an error, Jerris Lee followed with a solid line drive hit to end it.
“I knew that earlier in the game I was popping it up; I was lunging for the ball,” Lee said. “I just need to chill out a little bit, sit back and drive a ball somewhere.”
Such a finish seemed unlikely when Roncalli (11-5-1) began the game with a flurry.
The Rebels took advantage of some Franklin miscues, jumping on top when the first four batters reached on a walk, an error, a hit batsman and another walk. Colten Panaranto drove in two runs with a double, and a second Grizzly Cub error allowed the Rebels to stretch their lead to 4-0.
Franklin, though, got all of those runs back with a two-out rally in the bottom of the first inning. Miles reached on an error and scored on a balk, and after walks to Lee and Jacob Heuchan, Isaac McCullough clubbed a 3-1 pitch over the wall in left field to knot the score.
Both starting pitchers quickly settled down after the rocky opening. Panaranto’s double was the only hit allowed by Franklin junior southpaw Michael Couet, who worked around two more walks and an error to prevent the Rebels from reclaiming the lead. He exited after five innings with the score still deadlocked, having struck out four.
Franklin had the makings of a threat in the sixth inning, when Heuchan and McCullough led off with consecutive singles, but Roncalli reliever Nick Schnell escaped trouble by getting a strikeout, a pickoff and a flyout to center.
Schnell then earned himself a shot at the victory in the top of the seventh. After Pete Baker was hit by a pitch to start the inning and moved to second on a fielder’s choice, Schnell poked a one-out base hit up the middle to put the Rebels back on top.
The Grizzly Cubs, however, had other ideas, and they’ll now try to ride the momentum through a busy five-game week.
“I wanted to play well,” Feyerabend said, “but a win really gets the ball rolling. … Hopefully this will set the tone for a good week for us.”