WOODLAWN — Neither team was at its best, but Friday’s Parkers Chapel-Woodlawn game was still an instant classic between the 8-2A-Conference rivals.
The Trojans were down to their final out when a missed pop up opened the door to a two-run seventh inning as the Bears dropped a heartbreaker, 4-3, at Woodlawn High School.
“It was a great game,” Parkers Chapel coach Mark Looney said. “It always is when Parkers Chapel and Woodlawn play. It’s been like that for 17 years.
“We made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes, but good teams just find ways to win. And that’s what we did.”
Woodlawn (17-2, 0-1), which saw its 13-game winning streak come to an end, took a 3-2 lead into the seventh despite having left 10 runners on base up to that point.
Senior Colton Williams got Chris Worthey and Eric White to fly out to centerfield to open the frame with the former being robbed of a hit by Caleb Holleman.
It was Holleman’s second big defensive play of the game as the junior threw out pinch-runner Jeremiah Glidewell at home plate in the fourth inning to preserve a one-run lead.
“It was a great play,” Bears coach Tommy Richardson said of the throw. “He came in and got behind it well, and the throw was right on the money.
“Just a great play, and it was in a big moment, too.”
With two outs and nobody on, John Tyson stepped up to the plate. Tyson had crushed a pitch from Woodlawn starter J.P. Aiken for a two-run home run in the third inning after the Bears had taken a 3-0 lead.
Williams, who came out to start the fourth in relief of Aiken, had Tyson and Parkers Chapel (13-3, 2-0) down to their final strike. With a full count, he got Tyson to pop it up high in the air near third base.
Junior Taylor Stitt was unable to make the catch, but the ball landed in foul territory. So Tyson didn’t reach base, but he did have new life.
“That’s baseball karma,” Looney said. “I knew when that happened something good would happen for us.”
Given a second chance, Tyson did not waste it as he lined a single just past Stitt’s glove.
Taylor Langston followed with a single up the middle that sent Tyson to third base. A wild pitch by Williams allowed Langston to move up to second base.
Williams got behind in the count 3-1 to Will Jones, who had struck out twice in the game, and Jones took advantage with a single in the right-centerfield gap to drive in two runs.
“I told him going into the seventh,” Looney said of Jones, “’You’re 0 for 2. Third time’s the charm.’
“And he came through.”
Jones said he couldn’t really explain how the inning turned around for the Trojans.
“Stuff just started falling in place for us,” the senior said. “That’s just baseball.”
After Jones’ big hit, Dez Jackson struck out for the fourth time in the game as Williams limited the damage.
Woodlawn had a chance to send the game to extras or possibly win the game in the bottom of the seventh. Stitt and Williams got out to open the inning, but just as Parkers Chapel had done, Woodlawn didn’t roll over.
First baseman Jayden Fultz singled to give the Bears a chance. Second baseman Stephen Albright followed with a double to right-center to put two runners in scoring position.
“I could have,” Richardson said when asked about pinch-running for Fultz. “I could have used my courtesy runner (Chandler Mercer), but he was my last outfielder. I was planning on bringing in my left fielder (Trey Chapman) to pitch if the game continued, and if I did that I’d be in trouble because I’d already burned (Alec) Stover.
“But even if I’d had someone else in there, I don’t think I would have sent them. You never know, though.”
With Fultz and Albright on, Langston struck out Colby Ferguson swinging on a 2-2 pitch to end the game.
The final result wasn’t what he wanted, but Richardson was proud of his team.
“I was very pleased with our effort,” he said. “What is today? April 11th. We got better today and that’s what you want is to get better. If this was, May 16th we would want to win. But today is April 11th, so we wanted to get better and we did.
“It wasn’t a lost day.”