Chickashanews.com

March 26, 2014

Owls clinch win with two-run fifth inning

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star

NINNEKAH —

After nine days off the diamond, Ninnekah's process of stretching back out for the rest of the spring was still ongoing on Tuesday.

It took a positive direction in the form of a 4-3 win against Wayne, but it didn't come without its tense moments. Austin Boevers' two-RBI shot to left center gave the Owls the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth.

Wayne came back into the game on two occasions after a Ninnekah lead. They tied the game 1-1 into the third when Nolan Miller did something about it.

With Dalton Johnson already at first on an error, Miller hit one to right field that bounced pass Alex Cheatwood and led to an RBI-triple. Miller went 3-for-3 from the plate, including an important double later on.

The Owls were holding on, but only just. Short stop Cody Reed made a head's up play to catch the infield fly in the top of the fourth with the tying run on first. A quick throw to Miller caught the runner off the bag for the double-play, ending the inning.

The Bulldogs pounced in the top of the fifth. Brandon Dabney's long shot to left gave him a double and put two on after Cole Ellis had walked. Joe Martin made it count with a two-RBI double that gave Wayne their first lead of the afternoon. 

It didn't take long for Ninnekah to respond, with Boevers' single to bring in Dalton Johnson and Miller coming in the bottom half of that inning. With just the one-run lead, things remained tense, and boiled over in the sixth.

With bases loaded, Wayne pitcher Zach Madden sent a grounder to second with one out on the board. On his way to second, Dabney watched as short stop Reed tagged the base, but he didn't Slide. Madden was safe at first,  Cheatwood came in for the tying run, but Ninnekah coach Tom Hurst protested.

While Reed was able to get off the throw cleanly, Dabney still had to slide into second, Hurst said, or vacate the base line. The umpire's consulted and reversed their initial call, much to the disliking of the Wayne crowd and dugout. By rule, two outs were awarded to Ninnekah, the inning was over and the run was chalked off.

It proved to be a crucial moment as Miller grabbed an infield fly with two on to end the game in the top of the seventh. Wayne saw a nail-biter slip away, while Ninnekah gained momentum ahead of the Union City tournament on Thursday.