Nobody is going to accuse the Garaway Pirates’ baseball team of being boring.
One night after playing Ridgewood to a draw through 10 innings in a game that was suspended due to darkness, the Pirates overcame a 10-1 deficit to rally and defeat East Canton 11-10 in another barn-burner.
In the wild comeback win over East Canton on Friday, the enormous hole the Pirates found themselves in came swiftly and decisively.
Garaway starter Ryan Aleshire got the first out to open the game but then couldn’t find the strike zone and walked four straight Hornets. That forced in a run, and a single plated a second, but Aleshire settled in and got a key strikeout and a ground out to end the threat and leave the bases loaded.
Garaway got on the board in the bottom of the inning when Trey Hershberger opened the game with a triple and scored on Trevor Donaldson’s infield single, but then things came unglued for the Pirates.
An error opened the second inning, and Aleshire’s struggle to throw strikes continued as he walked three straight to force in a run. On came Bryce Bickford in relief, and he promptly hit a batter to force in a run to make it 4-1.
Three singles and a walk later, Garaway was trailing 10-1. Those eight runs would be the last ones East Canton would score, and the Pirates were about to engage in a comeback that saw the home team systematically claw its way back into the game, and it started with a four-run second inning.
With one out Dylan Hershberger singled and Bickford walked, Hershberger scoring on a wild pitch a couple of pitches later. Gary Miller walked, and Bickford stole third and scampered home on a wild pitch, making it 10-3. Josh Yoder’s single plated Miller, and after Hershberger walked, Donaldson lined a single to left to make it 10-5.
Bickford then settled in and pulled off a rarity, recording a perfect third inning. Bickford’s double in the bottom of the inning didn’t yield a run, but he again took the mound and retired the side in order in the fourth.
Josh Yoder and Trey Hershberger singled, and when Donaldson dropped down a sacrifice bunt, the throw to first sailed into foul territory, allowing both runners to scoot home to make it 10-7. Peyton Miller lashed a run-scoring single to make it 10-8, and with two outs Dylan Hershberger and Bickford drew walks, setting the table for Gary Miller’s two-run single that tied the game at 10. Josh Yoder then came through with a clutch two-out hit, sending Bickford racing home to give the Pirates an 11-10 lead.
For the first time Garaway was playing from in front, and once again Bickford took the mound and disposed of the Hornets in order, but Garaway failed as well in the bottom of the fifth.
For the fourth straight inning, Bickford proved untouchable, but the Pirates went down without a base runner in the bottom of the inning.
The game progressed to the seventh inning, and after giving up a lead-off single and seeing the runner advance to second on a sacrifice bunt, Bickford slammed the door shut on a fly-out and a mammoth strike-out to end the game.
Bickford went six innings in relief to pick up the win, and after struggling early, he was brilliant on the mound. He also scored a pair of runs. At the plate Donaldson and Yoder each had three hits and drove in a pair while Hershberger had two hits and scored two runs. Gary Miller scored twice.
One night earlier Garaway had to recover from a deficit as well, although the Pirates did cough up an early 5-0 lead versus the Generals of Ridgewood.
Trey Hershberger singled to lead the game off, and Donaldson reached on an error. One out later Aleshire deposited a Kolten Alexander offering over the wall for a three-run homer.
The Pirates weren’t through yet. Kory Stress singled, Bickford and Gary Miller walked, and Yoder drove a single to center. Stress scored, but Bickford was gunned down at home plate for the second out of the inning. Austin Fearon and Trey Hershberger both walked, forcing in the inning’s fifth run for the Pirates.
With Peyton Miller on the mound for Garaway, Pirates head coach Justin Elmore had to feel good about his team’s chances, but the Generals were having none of it.
After Peyton Miller sailed through the first two innings, Alexander also had settled in and shut down Garaway’s offense. In the bottom of the third the game took a 180-degree turn as Ridgewood pushed across eight runs to take the lead.
Jarrett Slusser singled sharply to center to begin the inning, and with one out Chase Minet singled. Peyton Miller then hit a batter to load the bases, and Koleton Smith singled home a pair to slice the Ridgewood deficit to 5-2. A Kaden Smith single made it 5-3, and Alexander smashed a double to center to tie things at 5-5.
Back-to-back infield singles by Wright and Kunze reloaded the bases, and a wild pitch put Ridgewood ahead 6-5. Dylan Hershberger relieved Peyton Miller, and after getting an infield pop-up for the second out, Minet drove a double to the wall to make it 8-5 through three innings.
Garaway responded quickly to tie things at 8-8 by posting a three-spot in the top of the fourth. Austin Fearon led the inning off with a walk, but it was erased when trying to steal. Trey Hershberger then rifled a double to left, Donaldson singled him to third and Peyton Miller hammered a triple to trim the deficit to 8-7. After Aleshire popped out, Stress smoked a hard grounder to short that couldn’t be handled, and the score was locked up at 8-8.
Koleton Smith and Kaden Smith singled to start the fourth inning for Ridgewood, but on the play Koleton Smith was caught rounding second base too far for the first out. Alexander lashed a double to right, but Donaldson quickly retrieved it, hit the cut man and Kaden Smith was thrown out at home, preserving the tie.
Having dodged a bullet, Garaway promptly loaded the bases with no outs when Dylan Hershberger singled, Yoder was hit by a pitch and Fearon walked. However, a pair of harmless pop-outs and a ground out ended that threat.
After Ridgewood went down in order in the bottom of the fifth, Garaway set up shop again in the sixth. Aleshire was plunked and took second on Stress’ sacrifice bunt. Bickford walked, but again the Pirates couldn’t get a key hit.
Ridgewood was retired quickly in the bottom of the inning, and Garaway threatened again in the seventh when Trey Hershberger walked and Peyton Miller singled. However, the threat ended when Aleshire’s crushed liner was caught at second base for the third out.
The Generals then had a shot to end it in the bottom of the inning. Kaden Smith doubled to start the inning and was sacrifice bunted to third by Alexander. Wright singled to the mound, but it wasn’t enough to plate Smith. With one out Kunze lined a ball to center, and Smith tagged up, trying to win the game. Instead Fearon’s throw was on the mark, nailing Smith at home plate to extend the game to extra innings.
For the third time in four innings, Garaway put runners in scoring position with less than one out when Stress singled and Dylan Hershberger doubled. However, the Pirates again failed to produce when Yoder popped out and Fearon grounded out.
Dylan Hershberger cruised through the eighth, and the Pirates finally produced a run in the top of the ninth. Trey Hershberger walked and stole second with one out. Peyton Miller then delivered a double to put the Pirates ahead. However, they had to settle for one when Aleshire walked and Stress lined into a double play.
Right back came the Generals. With Trey Hershberger on to try to shut the door, he promptly hit the first batter he faced. An error and an intentional walk to Kaden Smith loaded the bases with nobody out, and Alexander then launched a fly ball long enough to plate the tying run. Now it was the Generals’ turn to attempt to end the game. Wright advanced the runners to second and third with two outs, but Kunze’s sharp liner was snared by Aleshire at first to end the inning.
Koleton Smith walked Bickford to start the 1oth but then recorded three straight strike-outs. Trey Hershberger cruised through a perfect bottom of the 10th before darkness finally halted the game locked at 9-9.