TOWNSEND — As the Townsend Dodgers and Pepperelll Braves tuned up for upcoming playoff action, both teams put forth great efforts in their regular season finales. After nine innings, played for the most part in soggy conditions, the Dodgers eked out a hard-fought 8-7 win.
The winning run came in the bottom of the ninth when Dylan LeClair drew a bases-loaded walk to plate Chris Powell, who had led off the inning by reaching on an error.
The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Joe O’Neill doubled, moved to third on Kyle Cushion’s singled and scored when Corey DaSilva grounded out. Dodgers starting pitcher Sam Robinson did a nice job of damage control, stranding runners at second and third to prevent further damage, aided by a nice leaping catch by shortstop Richie Sharp.
The Dodgers bounced back in the bottom of the inning with a four-run explosion. Powell and Jared Bornemann singled to set the table with no outs. Richie Sharp reached on an error as Powell scored, before Colin Lomax blasted a line drive over the center field fence to make it 4-1.
The Braves added a run in the top of the second, but once again Robinson showed poise to prevent further damage. Steve Collins and Ted McCaffrey singled before Paul Dion walked to load the bases with no outs. After Powell hauled down Justin Estrella’s line drive to left, Joe O’Neill reached on an error as Collins scored. Robinson bore down and induced a popout and groundout to keep the 4-2 lead intact.
Braves starting pitcher DaSilva settled down over the next two innings, allowing just a run in the third on Lomax’s RBI single.
The Braves took a 5-4 lead with a three-run uprising in the top of the third. Jack Herrick walked, moved to second on T.J. Fetterolf’s single and scored on Collins’ single. A sacrifice fly by McCaffrey and a run-producing groundout by Dion put the Braves on top. Dodgers first baseman Sam Doiran took a hit away from Dion with a diving stop in the hole, flipping to Robinson covering first for the out.
Robinson finished his 4 2/3 inning stint strongly by retiring the final eight hitters he faced, and Josh McLeman came on and struck out the first hitter he faced to end the top of the fifth.
The Dodgers took the lead in the bottom of the fifth with two runs. Borneman led off with a single and moved to second when Richie Sharp reached on an error. The hot-hitting Lomax ripped an RBI single to plate Borneman. Two batters later, Sam Doiran’s sacrifice fly scored Sharp to make it 7-5.
The Dodgers wouldn’t go away and tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Ethan Karp singled, Collins reached on an error and Estrella walked to load the bases. The Dodgers defense got the first out of the inning, erasing the lead runner on a force play, but Cushion drew a bases-loaded walk, and Estrella scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.
Cushion turned in a brilliant relief stint for the Braves, not allowing a hit over four innings while striking out six and walking one, but Richie Sharp tossed a goose egg for the Dodgers in the seventh and retired the first two hitters in the eighth before being relieved by Borneman, who struck out four of the five hitters he faced. After issuing a leadoff walk to Nick May in the top of the ninth, he struck out three consecutive hitters after May stole second, setting the stage for the Dodgers winning rally in the bottom of the ninth.
Lomax crushed the ball in leading the Dodgers offense, finishing with three singles, a home run and five runs-batted-in. Richie Sharp singled, doubled and scored three runs while Borneman added two singles and two runs scored.
Collins led the Braves with two singles, two runs scored and an RBI. McCaffrey turned in an outstanding defensive play in right, taking an extra base hit away with a running catch.