Consider the Republic Tigers an exception to that, as they rallied back from 10-0 down to earn a 14-13 win over Branson in eight innings Thursday night.
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“We’re so numb from misfortune and a lack of timely hitting this season,” said Republic coach Howard Quigley after his team snapped a five-game losing streak. “We came out very flat the first three innings, but then we started taking pitches, trying to get base runners and chipping away. It paid off.”
And the Tigers are hoping it continues to pay, as they look to build some momentum in the second half of the season.
“As much as anything we need to build some confidence,” said Quigley. “Whenever things don’t go right, you lose your confidence. Something like this is what you need to turn that corner and get it going hopefully.”
The visiting Pirates raced out to that lead in just three at-bats, batting around and scoring seven runs to go up 10-0 heading into the bottom of the third inning. Branson needed to record just six more outs to end the game with the mercy rule and had actually recorded two of them before Republic started to rally.
With two on and two out in the bottom of the third, Riley Norris dropped an RBI bloop single into center, making him the first of five straight Tigers to reach safely. Cole Hurst legged out an RBI infield hit, and two more runs scored thanks to an error on Nick Gideon’s fielder’s choice. Another Branson error and a base hit by Creed Smiley pulled Republic to within 10-6 after three.
“When it was 10-0, there wasn’t a lot of hope,” said Hurst. “But then we scored some runs and started putting the ball in play, and our pitchers started figuring things out. It was nerve-wracking.”
Back and forth the teams went, with Branson scoring two runs in the top of the fourth and Republic pulling one back in the home half. The Pirates plated two more in the fifth and Republic responded with three more to make it a 13-10 game with two innings to play.
But while Branson didn’t score again, Republic rallied for a trio of runs in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings.
A pair of Pirate errors - their third and fourth of the game - brought the game-tying run to the plate with nobody out. Norris brought home a run on a fielder’s choice, making it a 13-11 game with two outs. But a run scored on a wild pitch and Dustin Eby’s flare to shallow right brought Norris in from third and knotted the score.
Branson threatened in the eighth, getting a two-out single from Austin Brogan, but Hurst induced a groundout to leave the go-ahead run stranded in scoring position.
Republic wasted no time rallying in the bottom of the inning, as Gideon and Smiley drew back-to-back walks and Clayton Rose dropped a one-out, game-winning RBI single into left to end the game more than three hours after first pitch.
Hurst picked up the win in relief for Republic, throwing 5 2/3 innings and allowing four runs on nine hits. He struck out five, walked one batter and plunked another.
“I probably threw 20 more curveballs than fastballs, because they weren’t hitting them,” said Hurst. “We talked after the game that this is the time when we need to get it turned around and start playing well. We’ve got a talented team, we just haven’t been winning games.”
Jonathan Ternes took the loss. The fourth pitcher of the game for Branson surrendered one run on one hit, but what a run it was.
Rose was 3-for-5 at the plate for Republic, with a two doubles and a pair of RBI. He scored three runs. Hurst went 2-for-3, with a walk, two singles and two runs scored.
“We came out in the first two innings, got runners on base and didn’t push them across,” said Quigley. ‘It was nice to see them come back and play with some character.”
Brogan was 3-for-4 at the plate with a walk, a pair of infield hits and a double. He scored twice and drove in a run.
“We gave them too many chances to win the game,” said Branson coach Troy Nimmo. “When you score 10 runs right off the bat, you need to hold onto it. Give Republic credit. When you’re down 10-0 it’s pretty tough to stay up and stay with it, and they did. They stuck with it and we didn’t. We didn’t finish the game.”