OTTAWA — After two straight days and two consecutive losses to Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West rival Rochelle, the Ottawa Pirates were in need of a baseball boost.
They got it in an improbable way.
OHS surrendered eight runs through the first two innings, committing three costly errors in the process. But the Pirates chipped away to tie the score after four frames and then exploded for 10 runs during the bottom of the fifth in exciting fashion to storm away with an amazing 18-8 comeback victory Thursday afternoon here at King Field, avoiding the season sweep after the previous pair of frustrating appearances versus the Hubs.
Wyatt Hill's two-out grounder to third was thrown wildly to first, which allowed courtesy runner Bradley Ruger to score from third base on the error as the 10-run mercy rule was invoked. The deluge of tallies gave the Pirates a shocking but satisfying triumph after seemingly being headed for a Rochelle series stampede only a few innings earlier.
"We've shown we can rally after being down earlier in the season and still win ballgames," said OHS skipper Tom Hart. "We did that once again today, and I'm proud of the guys for getting a much-needed win against a quality Rochelle team that took it to us the last couple of days.
"Baseball is a game that's meant to be played every day, and credit to our kids for responding and avoiding the sweep."
Alex Stevenson (3-1) recorded the five-inning win on the mound after surrendering all eight runs (three earned) and eight hits the Hubs would collect in the first two frames. But from there he settled down, recording six consecutive outs on only eight pitches in the third and fourth.
He then wiggled out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the top of the fifth that set the stage for his team's monster run explosion.
"After those first two bad innings, I just started to slow down and focus more on my pitching and hope my defense would respond," Stevenson said. "They really picked things up with some great plays in the last three innings which really built my confidence. Then we had the big offensive inning, and I didn't even have to go out there and pitch again.
"It was a pretty exciting victory after losing to them two days in a row."
Ottawa (7-6, 1-2) trailed 4-0 after a half a frame when Rochelle (4-2, 2-1) tallied a quad of runs (two unearned) in the top of the first after RBI at-bats from Cody Johnson, Hayden Jones and Noah Mershon.
Ottawa fired back to tie the score with four runs in the bottom of the frame off RHS starting and losing pitcher Cody Johnson (4 IP, 7 ER, 7 H, 6 BB, 5 K), who walked five in the stanza and surrendered an RBI triple to Wyatt Hill (3-for-5, 4 RBI) and a sacrifice fly off the bat of John Bruner. The other two runs came home on wild pitches which evened things up.
The Hubs added four runs (three unearned) after two more OHS miscues in the top of the second to go back ahead 8-4, with Brandon Johnson homering and Cody Johnson stroking a two-run double.
The Pirates chipped away, however, adding single tallies in the bottom of the second after a Hill RBI single, two in the third courtesy of John Bruner and Ryan Wendt at-bats and another lone marker in the fourth as Logan Cheatham (2-for-3) tied the game at 8-8 with an RBI base knock.
Then the floodgates opened against Cody Johnson and reliever Ralphy Macinas.
Nathan Weitzel (3-for-3) started things with a two-run single. Hill followed with a two-run safety. Jared Herzog, Cheatham and Matt Mezel each chipped in run-scoring at-bats before Weitzel added his third RBI of the inning in his second plate appearance with a single to left. Hill then plated Ruger on the error that ended the contest.
"We got off to such a great start hoping for more after two nice wins the last two days," said RHS coach Jarrod Reynolds. "We had a nice lead early on, and unfortunately we missed an opportunity to win a ballgame and sweep a series against a good Ottawa team that never quit today."
At King Field, Ottawa
Ottawa 18, Rochelle 8 (5 inn.)
ROCHELLE (8) — B. Johnson lf 3-2-1-1, Kisner 3b 4-2-2-0, Beck rf 3-2-1-0, C. Johnson p/2b 3-0-1-3, Simmons cr 0-1-0-0, Jones 1b 3-1-1-2, Ansteth c 3-0-1-0, Mershon cf 2-0-1-1, Mancinas 2b/p 2-0-0-0, Bernardin ss 3-0-0-0. Totals 26-8-8-7.
OTTAWA (18) — Weitzel 2b 3-3-3-3, Hill dh 5-2-3-4, Stevenson p 0-0-0-0, Sauvegeau 1b 2-3-0-0, Herzog cf 3-2-1-1, Cheatham lf 3-1-2-2, Bruner 3b 2-2-1-2, Lundy ss 3-2-1-0, Wendt rf 2-1-0-1, Mezel c 3-0-1-1, Ruger cr 0-2-0-0. Totals 26-18-12-14.
Rochelle (4-2, 2-1) 440 00 — 8 8 5
Ottawa (7-6, 1-2) 412 1 10 — 18 12 3
LOB — Rochelle 6, Ottawa 6. 2B — C. Johnson, Jones, Weitzel, Cheatham, Lundy. 3B — Hill. HR — B. Johnson. SB — Weitzel, Cheatham, Bruner. CS — Hill. SF — Bruner.
Rochelle ip r er hh bb k
C. Johnson (L, 1-1) 4.0 10 7 7 6 5
Mancinas 0.2 8 6 5 4 0
Stevenson (W, 3-1) 5.0 8 3 8 3 1
Game ended with two out in the bottom of the fifth.