Seven proved lucky instead of fatal for College Station, which held on for an 8-7 victory over Bellville in Sunday’s Major Baseball Section 1 Little League All-Star elimination game at Bachmann Park.
Bellville, trailing 8-2 and down to its last swing, had six straight batters reach to pull within a run. The District 13 champs also had the tying and go-ahead runners in scoring position when CS third baseman Andrew Elko caught a foul popup, allowing the relieved hosts to celebrate.
College Station had seemingly put the game away with a five-run fourth inning, taking advantage of Bellville’s bullpen. CS’s first five batters reached and scored. Only two of the batters reached via a hit. Three walked, two on four straight pitches, but the key at-bat was by Zeke Bullard, who fouled off five two-strike pitches before drawing a bases-loaded walk to make it 4-2.
Erich Glenewinkel also walked to force in a run. The lead ballooned to 6-2 as Bellville uncorked a wild pitch and College Station’s last runs came on a sacrifice fly by Brayson Urbanczyk and a groundout by Jordan Fowler.
Bellville rather quickly was down to its last strike as relief pitcher Glenewinkel retired five of six batters. The only hit the right-hander allowed was an infield single by Gunner Chovanec to open the sixth. Glenewinkel bounced back to strike out the next two batters. CS opted to lift Glenewinkel because of pitch-count rules.
Elko relieved and threw a pair of strikes, but Bellville’s Garrett Morris and Corrian Hood both reached via errors. Ryder Mezzacappa singled in two runs and Chase Inman’s RBI single made it 8-5. CS brought on pitcher Wilson Stapp, but Bellville, which was making its first trip to Sectionals since 2003, made it 8-6 when Wesley Shakelford reached on an error.
Jack Luedeker added an infield hit which plated another run when CS threw the ball away, making it 8-7. Stapp uncorked a wild pitch to move both runners up before inducing the popup to end the game.
CS advances to play Smithville at 5 p.m. Monday in another elimination game. Western Hills defeated Smithville 16-0 in three innings in Sunday’s second game. Western Hills will play Lufkin at 8 p.m. Monday in the winners’ bracket finale.
CS took a 3-0 lead over Bellville in the second inning with singles by Glenewinkel and Urbanczyk and a two-run double by Colton Haas. Bellville got a two-run homer in the third by Inman, who was 3 for 4. Mezzacappa added two of Bellville’s 10 hits.
Hass had two hits for CS. Fowler, in 4 1/3 innings struck out six. He allowed six hits, but didn’t walk a batter, though he hit one.