Nine innings weren’t enough to determine a winner of the championship game of the 73rd annual Cascade American Legion Post 528 Semi-Pro Baseball Tournament July 27, but four runs were, as Key West scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th with the help of a Reds’ error to take the tourney crown 4-3.
Cascade, playing as the visitors after the coin toss, led the game for 7½ innings after scoring a first-inning run. Nate McMullen lined a two-out single up the middle, and Bryce Simon, who led the tournament with 10 hits and seven RBIs, followed with a run-scoring triple to make it 1-0.
It remained that way until the fourth, when the Reds again struck with two out. Brock Simon doubled and stole third base, and Jackson Bennett followed with a single to send Simon scampering across the plate for a 2-0 advantage.
It appeared Cascade had added an important insurance run in the eighth inning when Austin Gehl singled in Bryce Simon, who had also notched another hit. Cascade took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth.
Key West’s Jake Blunt singled to lead off the inning and Lake Rosson was hit by a pitch, setting the table for designated hitter Kevin Hunley, who cleared that table with a three-run game-tying shot to left-center.
Derek Lieurance was hit by a pitch with one out in the ninth, but was caught trying to swipe second base before McMullen delivered a single to left.
Neither team threatened until the bottom of the 11th, when Key West’s Logan Kelleher singled off Brad Bockenstedt, and Mike Blake coaxed a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs.
In an obvious bunting situation, Anthony Razzo laid one down the third-base line, and the throw to first base was wild, allowing Keller to come around for the winning run.
The Ramblers’ rubber-armed pitcher, Anthony Ruden, threw all 11 innings for the winners, striking out 16 on an undoubtedly astronomical pitch count.