Indians’ wild ride

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By Steve Waters, Sports Editor

It took two days to finish because of a rain delay, but P.K. Yonge defeated Chiefland last Saturday afternoon 11-4 to take the District 2A-5 baseball title.

OK, got that? Now let’s get to the good stuff because the No. 2-seed Indians played the game of the year last Thursday in an 11-10 victory against No. 3 Trenton to advance to the championship game, which we’ll come back to later.

Thursday’s game had everything a baseball fan could ask for. Lead changes, plenty of drama and a finish for the ages that propelled Chiefland into the title game and their first regional playoff appearance since 2007.

And what a finish. After 3 1/2 hours, in the bottom of the seventh inning, with the game tied at 10 and the bases loaded, Chiefland’s Jacob Reidy bunted on a squeeze play that brought Johnathan Osteen home from third, broke the tie and got the Indians’ fans out of their seats.

It was a beautiful play that, according to Chiefland coach Kyle Parnell, wasn’t even supposed to happen. Parnell said that there was a miscommunication as to whether Reidy should bunt or swing away.

“They found a way to get it done,” Parnell said.

Boy, did they. But things didn’t start out so hot for the Indians, who gave up five runs in the first inning and found themselves in a deep hole early. Karson Gilbert got things started for the Tigers with a two-run double. Corbin Wiggins followed with an RBI single, Chance Brooks scored after tagging from third and Wiggins later came home off a bases-loaded walk.

Chiefland responded in the bottom of the frame, starting with Parrish Parnell’s RBI single that scored Reidy. Later in the inning, Bo Beauchamp scored on a passed ball and Brent Slaughter belted a single to score Marquis Greene and narrow the gap to 5-3.

Back on defense, the Indians calmed down a bit in the second, though Clif Bryant scored another run for Trenton off an error. Catcher Parrish Parnell saved a run, though, tagging out Kane Crosby at home and preventing another Tigers rally.

Things got interesting in the bottom of the second. After narrowing the score to 6-4, Indians first baseman Beauchamp hit a two-run single that scored Adam Burton and Clenton Wasson to tie the game. Slaughter then singled again, this time bringing home Beauchamp and Reidy to give Chiefland an 8-6 lead.

The Indians would extend the lead in the third to 10-6, capped by Burton tagging from third off Burton’s pop fly and Josh Martinez’s RBI double.

Trenton, however, wasn’t done. The Tigers started shipping away at Chiefland’s lead in the fourth, with Hunter Parrish’s RBI single that brought home Chance Brooks. Later in the inning, a fielder’s choice plated Kolton Mims, and Bryant’s single scored Parrish to narrow the gap to 10-9.

The Tigers’ Brooks tied the game at 10 in a dramatic fashion, leading off the top of the fifth inning with an opposite-field home run off the first pitch he saw.

The game then went quiet, until Chiefland’s miracle seventh inning that won the game.

“Every time we play Trenton we get that type of ball game,” Kyle Parnell said. “It’s going to be a close, tough, hard-fought ball game, and I’m pleased with fight we showed that night.”

At the plate, Slaughter finished 2-for-3 with three RBI for the Indians. Beauchamp finished 2-for-3 with a double, two runs and three RBI.

‘Raining’ Champions

And what did Chiefland win with its comeback victory over Trenton? A two-day marathon against top-seeded powerhouse P.K. Yonge, of course.

Already thin on pitching from the previous game against Trenton, the Indians were forced into using four pitchers over the two-day span. Wasson, Beuchamp, Tim Reidy and Kody Plemmons all took the mound against P.K. It was also Tim Reidy’s first time on the mound at the varsity level, Kyle Parnell said.

“They got some valuable experience that’s going to help those guys down the road,” he said of his hurlers. “I was proud of their effort.”

The Blue Wave struck first on Friday night, with a sacrifice fly by Ryan Thombs to bring home leadoff hitter Manny Kurki-Fox. Then, in the bottom of the third, Josh Stewart plated another run for the Blue Wave off a sac-fly, and Thombs knocked in a run off an RBI single.

Things got dangerous in the bottom of the fourth. P.K. loaded the bases and Kurki-Fox came home after being hit by a pitch for a 4-0 lead. Then, the rain that threatened for much of the game developed into a downpour, halting play until 1 p.m. Saturday.

The Blue Wave then picked up right where they left off. With one out and the bases loaded in the fourth, Stewart hit a first-pitch single that brought in two runs, followed by Sean Kamhoots’s two-run double. With the bases loaded again, Tyler Hagin stepped to the plate and ripped a double deep to center field, scoring three runs and giving P.K. a comfortable 11-0 lead.

Chiefland still had some life in them, starting with Burton’s double in the fifth that scored Greene. Burton, kept quiet Friday night, had two doubles, an RBI and a run Saturday to keep the Indians in the fight. Cole Parks scored from third later in the frame after Wasson reached first on a dropped third strike.

“Our kids battled the whole game, got down early, and continued to fight and play hard the whole game,” Kyle Parnell said. “I was proud of that effort. We had a tough road getting here.”

Chiefland added its final runs in the final inning, starting with Burton reaching on his second double. He later came home off a wild pitch. Robbie McCabe scored the game’s final run, coming home off a fielding error that saw Slaughter reach base.

Wasson (5-1) picked up the loss for the Indians, his first of the season. But he still leads the area in batting average (.629) and will be a weapon in the regional tournament.

“We used up a lot of pitching earlier in the week,” Kyle Parnell said. “We just had to swing the bat well. We were a little thin in that area, but give them (P.K.) some credit, they came out and swung the bats well.”