The ball was in the glove of Derby's second baseman, Casey Scott. Then it wasn't. A walk-off error – that's how Wellington would get their first Jayhawk Baseball League win of the season, and move to 4-1 overall.
Final score was 4-3, the error was Derby's first of the game, while Wellington was able to overcome five.
"I think the guys did a nice job late, we were horrendous again defensively, and we have to fix that," said Heat Head Coach, Adam Niesius. "The game shouldn't have been that close, if we played a little defense we probably get out of here in nine."
It was a thrilling, extra-inning game at Hibbs-Hooten Field. Wellington struck first in the bottom of the second, Ryan Barnes, 6'3'' left-handed, designated hitter homered over the left-center wall, around the 355' mark. Spectators say the ball came to rest on the South end of the football field, near the 30-yard line. The homerun was the first by a Heat player this season.
The Twins tied it up in the next inning on a Heat throwing error. Derby added another run in the top of the fifth, then knotted up again when Wellington's Aaron Siple, outfielder, batted in T.C. Mark, catcher.
John Conquy, pitcher, from the College of Sothern Nevada, came in to relieve Heat starter, Nico Lytle in the seventh. Derby took a 3-2 lead when a high-fly ball wasn't called in the air, leaving three Wellington players standing over it in the outfield as the Twins' Scott crossed the plate.
Conquy's curve ball was lighting up the Derby batters, with its wide breaking pattern. Niesius said the pitcher did a heck of a job.
"You don't see that big of a breaking pitch anymore, man, that thing just drops off the table," the coach said. "It's a two-foot breaker…it's a really good pitch, he's got a really good fast ball to go with it." After the game, Conquy talked about his breaker.
"My curveball is probably my best off-speed pitch, I try to feature it as much as I can and get ahead of hitters," he said.
Derby left two runners stranded in the top of the eighth, while Wellington went three-up, three-down when they were up to bat. The Twins were unable to pad their lead in the top of the ninth, setting the stage for a Heat comeback.
Cole Loncar, came in to pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth. Trevor Long and Mark were on second and first. Loncar slapped the ball deep down the right field line, knocking Long across the plate to tie the game. Has the game headed into extras, the team dug deep as Derby was unable to score in the top of the tenth, leaving the bases loaded.
Page 2 of 2 - "We were just trying to grind it out, get a timely hit and just piece it together," Conquy said.
Kirk Rocha, the game winning runner, got on the bags after hitting a 3-1 pitch. Nick Billinger, second base, was the next batter, he was walked. Outfielder, Kyle Kilgore executed a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third. Derby intentionally walked the homerun-hitter, Barns to load the bases and ensure a force out at home.
Long stepped to the plate, faced a 1-2 pitch, and tear dropped the ball just to the left of the Twins second baseman, Scott. His feet got twisted up as he tried to make the catch, and the ball fell out of his glove.
"[Long] was trying to get the ball in the air to sac-fly the guy in, Rocha runs really well," Niesius said. "We just wanted to try to get the ball to the outfield. I was going to send [Rocha] no matter where it was going." Wellington is off Wednesday, but more JBL action awaits.
"Every Jayhawk game is going to be that, right there, we kind of know it going in," the coach said. "The biggest thing is to try to stay as even-keel as you can, and work through the situations we get ourselves in." Going to 1-1 in the JBL was important for the Heat.
"It's definitely a big time win,"Conquy said. "This league is won in this month right here, the first few games are pretty much over looked, I think." The team will get a chance to make up for their one, early season loss as they will travel to El Dorado for their first away game of the season on Thursday. They are home Friday to start a three game set against JBL opponent, the Dodge City A's .
Upcoming home games, free ticket locations
June 7 vs. Dodge City, Impact Bank
June 8 vs. Dodge City, EZ Choice Meats
June 9 vs. Dodge City, Sumner Communications