With the scoreboard reading 3-1 in favor of the Lancers, Reed rallied in the top of the fifth inning. A leadoff home run to deep left-center field off the bat of senior Ryan Butler, followed later by an RBI double from sophomore Joey Dice that plated pinch runner Tyler Starley, knotted the game at 3-3. The tie would not last long.
McQueen’s first two batters in the bottom of the fifth reached base safely, setting up a go-ahead two-run double by Kody Reynolds. The next at-bat saw Christian Stolo single into left field, scoring Reynolds for a 6-3 lead. The Lancers added one more run in the inning when a fielder’s choice allowed Stolo to cross the plate for a 7-3 advantage.
“Both teams played a good baseball game and they’re a very good team so you have to tip your cap,” Reed coach Ray Charles said. “Honestly, the fifth inning we gave up that crooked number and that pretty much put us on our heels a little bit. It made it tough to come back. That’s what we’re trying to eliminate. You’re going to have big innings, but we need to try to lower and eliminate them. We have to try to maybe squash them down to two runs as opposed to giving up four or five.
“We tied it up. We need to try to get our pitchers to have the mentality of shutting the other guys down. Once you come up and tie the game up, you have to come out and shut that next inning down. We need to come in with that mentality. Those are things that we’re going to continue to work on.”
The four-run fifth proved costly for the Raiders as they were unable to claw their way back over the final two innings. McQueen pitcher Josh Davis came on in relief in the top of the sixth, striking out two and inducing a groundout for a quick inning of work.
Still trailing 7-3, the Blue and Gold did not go down without putting a scare into the hosts.
Two walks and a batter hit by a pitch put the first three Raiders up to bat in the seventh on base. With no outs and the sacs waiting to be cleared, Reed cut its deficit in half when the back end of an attempted double play sailed over the first baseman’s glove, allowing two to score and leaving the score at 7-5.
The Raiders still had life with two outs remaining and the tying run at the plate, but a 6-4-3 double play sealed the game for McQueen (6-1 overall, 2-0 Northern 4A).
To start the game, Reed and McQueen both tallied a run in the first inning, with the Raiders crossing the plate on a bases-loaded walk and the Lancers’ Anthony Calton sending a shot over the fence. Three quick half innings of work left the score at 1-1 before Stolo ripped a double into the right-center field gap, sending Calton and Reynolds home to put McQueen up 3-1.
The Blue and Gold’s Spencer Jones pitched the whole game, striking out three while giving up seven runs over six innings. Logan Comphel started on the mound for the Lancers, allowing three runs (two earned) while striking out two. Davis pitched two innings of relief with two strikeouts and two runs against.
Despite the loss, Charles said there were positives from the game and that his team will continue to work on the little things to improve on the season.
“I really liked how we fought back and gave ourselves an opportunity to maybe even tie it or take the lead in the end. I was happy them fighting back,” Charles said. “We’re just going to keep working on hitting and putting the ball in play with runners in scoring position. I always tell the kids that you make your money by getting two out hits with runners in scoring position so we’re just going to continue to work on that. On the other side, we’re going to focus on throwing strikes and trying to shore up our defense. Those are all things that we are still making some mistakes and hopefully we can get them ironed out.”
Reed (4-3 overall, 0-2 Northern 4A) will try to find its first league win when it hosts Douglas Saturday at 1 p.m.