After spotting the Kansas Cannons five runs in their first four at bats, the Wellington Heat pecked away at the deficit, scoring twice in the bottom of the ninth to record a 6-5 victory at home Wednesday.
Starter Tyler Clancy had a tough first inning, walking three batters all of whom scored. But he allowed just one hit in the inning and struck out the last two.
Clancy surrendered two more runs in the fourth before giving way to Nico Lytle with two outs and a runner at second. Lytle got a ground ball to end the inning.
With its pitching staff shutting down the Cannons, the Heat began its comeback. Trailing 5-0 with one out in the bottom of the fourth, Nick Billinger singled and Kory Kilgore followed with a shot over the left-field fence to make it 5-2.
The fifth saw the Heat add another run on pure hustle by Aaron Siple. He beat out an infield hit and immediately stole second to set the stage for the play of the night.
Cannons reliever Garrett Stockton bounced a wild pitch in front of the plate, and Siple broke for third when he saw the ball skip by catcher Ty Redington. As Redington scrambled after the ball, Stockton took a couple of lackadaisical steps toward the plate.
But Siple never broke stride as he rounded third and dashed for home. When Stockton saw this, it was too late. Siple, Stockton and the throw from Redington arrived simultaneously at the plate. Stockton applied the tag and thought he got the out, but the umpire signaled safe as Siple pulled the Heat to within two.
The score stayed that way until the eighth when Kirk Rocha led off with a double and moved to third on a ground out. Tony Piazza's single scored Rocha to make it 5-4.
Wellington completed its comeback with two in the ninth. T.C. Mark led off the inning with a double to right and took third when Dalton Bernardi beat out a slow roller on the infield. Bernardi took second on defensive indifference to put the tying and winning runs in scoring position.
Mark scored to tie the game on a single by Siple, who also advanced to second on defensive indifference. The Cannons walked Rocha intentionally to load the bases and set up a force at home. But Joe Williams foiled that strategy when he dropped a single in front of the center fielder to score Bernardi with the winning run.
Siple was the ringleader of the Heat's offense, going 3 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI. Rocha and Piazza each had two hits, while Kilgore drove in two runs on his home run.
Page 2 of 2 - Although Lytle only faced one batter, he started an important string of shutout innings that allowed the Heat to climb back into the game. Following him to the mound were Scott Hoffman, Wes Grass, Michael Rosenkrantz and Ryan Jenkins.
Beginning with the one batter Lytle faced in the fourth, this group retired 12 straight Cannons, who did not record another base hit until there was two outs in the eighth. This quintet of pitchers allowed just three base runners over the final 5 1/3 innings, with Jenkins tossing the ninth and getting the win.