AVON LAKE — David Winkel, Avon Lake’s center fielder, figured enough was enough Saturday.
He stepped in with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the 12th inning against Elyria with his teammates and fans pleading with him to end the marathon second game and salvage a split for Avon Lake right then and there.
He did his part and then Nick Sacco did his and the Shoremen had a 15-14 win in 12 innings.
Elyria won the first game 5-2 and came from an eight-run deficit in the second game before Winkel started the Shoremen’s winning rally rolling with a triple.
“I heard a couple kids in our dugout say, ‘Please get out,’” Winkel said when he drove the ball to deep center field. “I think they wanted to end it. I rounded first and looked back at center and saw him miss the ball. I put my head down and trucked to third and this little kid hit me in.”
That “little kid” was Sacco, all 5-foot-6 and maybe 130 pounds, who drilled a single to left-center to bring home Winkel with the winning run.
“We needed to go home,” said Sacco when asked what he was thinking with Winkel on third. “We needed to win and go to the playoffs (tournament) with a win. I was hoping to get it done.”
Avon Lake nearly won the game in just five innings, but leading 12-4 couldn’t bring in the final two runs to invoke the mercy rule. The Pioneers then rallied, scoring four times in both the sixth and seventh innings to tie it at 12. They then had their chance to win, leading 14-12 going into the bottom of the 11th only to have the Shoremen tie it up again and take it to the 12th.
“We had six guys leave to go to prom,” Elyria coach Ed Piazza said. “These guys battled. We had no subs. We really had no more arms. They kept fighting.”
Marques Inman had a huge day for Elyria and Brad Hamiliton had an equally explosive one for the Shoremen. Inman made some huge defensive plays in the first game and knocked in five runs on five hits in the second. Hamilton was 6-for-7 on the day with three walks and a sacrifice fly.
Inman scooped several throws out of the dirt in the first game to help Matt McFrederick earn the win.
“I was just trying to do my job as best I can,” Inman said. “It worked out for me. I knew I had to body up on them and keep them in front of me.”
McFrederick’s performance may have been overlooked in the aftermath of the back-and-forth, wild second game but he pitched a gem in picking up his third win of the year. He wasn’t necessarily overpowering — he struck out just one — but he kept the Shoremen bats quiet, shutting them out over the first four innings as Elyria built a five-run cushion thanks to back-to-back home runs from Jacob Csizmadia and Inman in the top of the fifth.
“With me, I’m usually a reliever and I know when I come in it’s all about location, location, location,” he said. “You’ve got to know where to put the ball to get the plays you want to get.”
Avon Lake did score twice in the fifth and had Elyria on the ropes in the seventh before a huge double play bailed out the Pioneers as Zack Minney came in to preserve the victory.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.