When the Stockton Tigers chased both Mason Roller and Kevin Miller off the hill in the top half of the first inning with an eight-run barrage Tuesday afternoon, the Purdy Eagles were desperately looking for a miracle. Roller faced seven batters, and the only out recorded in his favor was a sacrifice bunt by Robbe Ewing, Stockton's second hitter. Miller suffered a similar fate, throwing to six hitters, and watching the lead grow to 8-0 with only two outs on the board.
Light-hitting catcher Riley Veith became the third Purdy pitcher of the inning, and he held the Tigers in check for six innings while his slugging teammates earned ties at 8-8 and 11-11 enroute to winning the MSHSAA Class 2A sectional game, 16-13.
Trailing 8-2 in the bottom of the second, Purdy roared back with a vengeance to tie the game at 8 on the strength of a Trent Goetz two-run blast. The Eagles chased unbeaten starter Robbe Ewing in the second, when the Tiger ace faced eight batters, was charged with eight runs, and only recorded four outs in his starter's role.
|Stockton regained the lead in the top of the third, as Kevin Martin and Craig Johnson stroked back-to-back RBI singles for a 10-8 advantage. Nick Engleman, who relieved Ewing in the second, shut down Purdy in the bottom half of the third inning, facing only five batters and holding the Eagles scoreless.|
|Matt Coyle led off the Stockton fourth with a double, and scored on Buck Walker's one-out single to left to up the lead to 11-8. Vieth avoided further damage by coaxing a weak fly ball off the bat of Ewing, and then Blake Williams doubled Walker off first base on the play.|
"Double plays were among the many keys for us," Coach Joshua Hughes said. "We turned three in the game and those extra outs with men on base were very imporant."
Purdy failed to score again in the fourth frame, stranding Cody Hall at third base and Kevin Miller at second.
|Vieth returned to the mound for Purdy in the fifth, and caged the Tigers on just 16 pitches. Engleman drew a walk to start the inning, but Martin grounded to second and the Eagles turned a textbook double play. Johnson smacked a single to center, but Mason Roller ran down a long foul past the Stockton dugout to record the third out.|
|Still down by 11-8, Purdy turned two walks and singles by Blake Williams and Derek Fulp into the tying runs. Two runs crossed the plate following Fulp's hit, and Johnson, the Stockton catcher, was injured trying make a tag at the plate. Jordan Abercrombie took over behind the plate for the Tigers.|
|Vieth retired the Tigers in the sixth inning on 16 more pitches, and a classic piece of trickeration that thwarted a budding Stockton rally.|
|With Tigers on second and third with one out in the top of the sixth, Coach Hughes rolled the dice for Purdy. The pitcher wheeled to execute the pickoff at second base, the runner slid back to the bag, and the Purdy infielders were running panic-stricken into center field after the ball.|
|Stockton's Matt Coyle broke for home from third base and was out by 10 feet at the plate. Hughes had dusted off the fake pickoff play in such a critical situation that everyone in the stadium bought it. Walker flied out to deep centerfield on a 3-1 pitch and the Eagles had shutout the Tigers in consecutive innings, and preserved the 11-11 tie.|
Stockton came unraveled in the bottom of the sixth. Kevin Miller reached on a one-out single. Goetz followed with a sacrifice bunt, but the throw for the sure out rocketed past the first baseman and bounded all the way to the right field fence. Miller scored to give the Eagles their first lead of the game, and Goetz wound up at third base on the play.
Landon Terry pushed his suicide bunt attempt too far, and Goetz was out at the plate. Terry ran all the way to second base when the Tigers thought time had been called. Mason Roller drove in Terry with a crushing double to center to build the Purdy lead to 13-11.
Engleman balked Roller over to third base in the midst of issuing a four-pitch walk to Chris Bennett. Then Blake Williams hit a towering three-run homer that just cleared the right field fence 280' away. The Eagles took the field for the seventh inning with a 16-11 lead.
Veith, visibly tiring in the heat, took the hill for the final inning. Ewing singled and Engleman walked, before Vieth struck out Martin on four pitches. Johnson singled to left to load the bases, but Ethan Meeks hit a wobbly fly to Blake Williams in right for the second out.
Derek Stockton followed with a nearly identical fly ball to right, but this time Williams struggled with the blinding sun and two runs scored on his bobble.
Hughes strode to the mound and handed the ball to Trent Goetz as Vieth received a standing ovation from the Purdy crowd. Goetz secured the victory, striking out Coyle on four pitches.
After waiting an extra day to play Stockton due to Monday's heavy rains, Purdy will wait until late Wednesday to know who their next opponent will be. The Eagles will play the winner of Mansfield and Strafford in a quarterfinal game on Thursday.