Rummel had an answer for Byrd’s biggest inning of the series.
A strong answer.
After Byrd scored five runs to take a 5-2 lead after four innings, the Raiders regained the lead with four runs in their next at-bat and never relinquished it in an 11-8 victory Friday at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium.
The victory came on the heels of a 5-2 victory Thursday, giving fourth-seeded Rummel a sweep of a Division I quarterfinal playoff series. The Raiders, 21-12 after winning their sixth-straight game, advanced to the semifinals next week in Sulphur. They’ll play either top-seeded Catholic or ninth-seeded Holy Cross.
The fifth-seeded Yellow Jackets (20-17) took their only lead of the series with the fourth-inning rally, but it didn’t last long.
“That was the turning point in the game,” Raiders coach Nick Monica said.
“That was huge,” Byrd coach Greg Williams said. “It showed how solid their lineup is. They have quality hitters one through nine.”
In fact, all nine of them batted during the fifth-inning rally.
Lance Johnson led off and reached on an error by shortstop Brock Lambert before singles by Kade Rivera and Ron Franklin loaded the bases.
Mason Langdon relieved and struck out the first batter he faced, but gave up consecutive run-producing walks. After another strikeout, Logan Bertucci hit a two-run single to give the Raiders a 6-5 lead.
“I went up there looking for a fastball and when he got behind 2-1 I knew a fastball was coming,” Bertucci said. “I hit it and the ball did the rest.”
The Raiders kept rolling in the sixth, adding three runs. Johnson was hit by a pitch leading off, Rivera bunted for a single, Ryan Todd made an error at third base to bring home one run and Jackson Dennies, the winning pitcher in Game 1, had a two-out, two-run single.
“I had seen a lot of fastballs on the outside so I moved closer to the plate,” Dennies said. “Then I got a fastball inside and I turned on it. We had the momentum and those two extra runs helped a lot.”
They sure did as Kyle Walker added a two-run single in the top of the seventh before the Yellow Jackets scored three unearned runs in the bottom half.
Byrd fell one baserunner short of bringing the tying run to the plate. The victory enabled the Raiders to not only avoid a winner-take-all third game, but it also ensured that the four seniors would be on time for their prom later in the evening.
“We wanted to get it done in two,” Monica said, “but the prom had nothing to do with it.”
Rummel starter Matt Villa allowed consecutive walks with one out in the first, but got a fielder’s-choice grounder and Chandler Fields made a diving catch of a sinking liner in right field to strand runners on the corners.
Fields led off the second with a triple, but Yellow Jackets starter Matthew Randall got consecutive strikeouts and tagged out Fields at the plate on a throw from catcher Cole Joyner as the runner tried to score when a pitch skipped through to the backstop.
Byrd threatened in the bottom half on consecutive two-out singles by Joyner and Julien DeLeon before Villa finished striking out the side by getting Langdon swinging.
The Raiders scored the first run of the game with two outs in the third. Johnson drew a four-pitch walk and came home on Rivera’s line drive that bounced off center fielder Ashton Nelson’s glove for an RBI-single.
Rummel increased the lead to 2-0 in the fourth on singles by Walker, Fields and Dennies.
Byrd, which stranded 12 runners Thursday, stranded five in the first three innings Friday before breaking through in the fourth.
The Yellow Jackets trailed 2-0, but Henry Lott led off with a single, Todd reached on Franklin’s error at third and Randall reached on an infield single to load the bases.
After Nelson struck out, Villa hit Jake Harris to force in a run, Charlie Barham doubled in two runs, another scored on a wild pitch and Joyner’s sacrifice fly gave Byrd a 5-2 lead.