August 29, 2014

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High school baseball: Avon clinches share of West Shore Conference championship with wild 13-12 win over Bay

Avon players celebrate after Ian Long, top, hits a home run Friday at All Pro Freight Stadium. Avon won 13-12. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

Avon players celebrate after Ian Long, top, hits a home run Friday at All Pro Freight Stadium. Avon won 13-12. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

AVON — Consider it money well spent.

After eight innings Friday at All Pro Freight Stadium, the Avon and Bay were tied at 10 and the game was ready to be called due to darkness.

After a brief discussion, Avon decided to spend the money to have the lights turned on and continue the game.

The Eagles got an immediate return on their investment, scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to pull out a wild 13-12 victory on a single to deep center off the bat of Kevin Maloney.

The win clinched a share of the West Shore Conference title with Lakewood and gave the Eagles their third title in the last four years.

“It was definitely worth the 200 or 500 bucks, or whatever it was, to finish that game,” Avon coach Frank DeSmit said.

“We would have liked to have won this a little easier. I told the guys that I was impressed that they got off the mat to come back not once, but twice.”

It didn’t look like the Eagles (15-7, 10-4) would need a comeback after the Rockets committed five errors in the bottom of the third inning, helping Avon score six times to take a 6-2 lead.

Tanner Doenges started the inning with a double to right-center and the baserunners just kept getting on base as Bay committed three errors over the next three batters. Doenges (3-for-4, three RBIs) provided a big hit in his second plate appearance of the inning, driving in a pair with a single over the bag at third.

Eagles starter Alex Tomko and reliever Ian Long put the Eagles just three outs away from the title share, but Bay (13-7, 8-5) sent 11 batters to the plate in the top of the seventh with the first seven scoring to take a 10-8 lead.

A hit batter and three walks scored the first run for the Rockets. Kyle Thompson, Kevin Keefe, Jake Crosson, Chris Francati and Griffin Watterson each drove in a run to put Bay on the brink of a huge comeback victory.

That’s when Avon responded the first time as Tim Moroz drove home Johnny Morales with a ground ball and Shaun Traine tied the score with a line drive to center to send the game to extra innings.

After an uneventful eighth inning, both teams tried to get their hands on the championship.

The Rockets went up 12-10 in the top of the inning when Crossan walked and scored on a triple by Watterson. A sacrifice fly to deep center off Eagles reliever sophomore Dom Massa, who was making his first varsity appearance, brought Watterson home.

Massa (1-0) became the winning pitcher when the Eagles responded again, scoring three times to rip the victory away from Bay.

Long singled and scored when Moroz ripped a two-strike pitch into the right-field corner.

“I was looking for a curveball since Francati threw me one in my last at-bat,” Moroz said. “I think he threw me one and I just let my hands do all the work like my coaches have always taught me to do.”

Moroz scored the game-tying run when Andrew Lee singled to left to once again tie the score. Kevin Maloney turned the lights out on Bay — and The Freight — when hit a ball to center that just kept carrying to the warning track, sending Lee home with the championship-clinching run.

“I was incredibly nervous, I didn’t want to popout like I did in the seventh,” Maloney said. “Luckily it was pretty windy and it really carried the ball out there. I have to thank Mother Nature there a little bit.”

Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.

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