It may not have been the prettiest win of the season for the Cleveland baseball team but the Rams’ 9-6 defeat of Two Rivers 3A Conference opponent South Johnston Tuesday night revealed something new about a team that has now rolled to nine consecutive wins.
Having held the lead for the majority of innings played this season, the Rams (9-1, 2-0) were forced to play from behind against the Trojans (6-5, 1-1) and the Rams responded.
“We hadn’t really been in a lot of situations this year where we’ve been behind and have to battle back like that so that’s a good sign we fought back and took control of the game,” Cleveland coach Jamie Lee said.
“We answered everything; it wasn’t always pretty but we made plays when we needed to make plays.”
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Cleveland rallied for two runs in the third, one run in the fourth and three crucial runs in the fifth inning after the Trojans posted two, one and three runs in those innings, respectively.
The bottom of the fifth inning was huge for the Rams. The manner in which the Trojans took the lead in the top half of the frame could have been difficult to stomach. After just four pitches, there were two outs but three consecutive walks opened the door for three runs that gave South Johnston the lead.
In the bottom of the inning, however, Ryan Flores tied the game with two outs on an RBI single that scored Landon Brown. Flores later scored when he stole third base before coming home as Zachary Bridges’ throw to try to nab him at third got past its intended target.
Bobby Dixon then plated Landry Moore to help Cleveland take an 8-6 lead into the sixth inning. It was a lead they would not surrender the rest of the game.
Small ball was the name of the game for the Trojans in the top of the third inning and it allowed them to take the early lead. After a leadoff single from Zachary McLamb and a balk called during the following at-bat, Kevin Honeycutt laid down a perfect bunt parallel to the third base line that advanced McLamb and saw Honeycutt reach base safely.
A sacrifice fly from Joseph Johnson allowed McLamb to score the game’s first run. Honeycutt then stole second from where he scored when Nash Johnson poked a single down the right field line.
Sauyer Roberts drove in a run in the fourth inning on another sac fly.
Walks came back to bite both teams, opening the door for big innings for one another. In the Rams’ four-run third inning, three walks issued by South Johnston pitching kept the inning alive. Similarly, three consecutive walks from Cleveland pitching allowed South Johnston to take the lead 6-5 in the top of the fifth inning.
They said it
“Every time we scored, they answered,” South Johnston coach Aaron Parnell said. “There for a little while we were trading licks, going back-and-forth. For us we didn’t get the breaks and we didn’t make the breaks when they did.”
Three to know
Bobby Dixon, Cleveland: The Rams junior catcher came to the plate in the third inning with the bases loaded and came through with a two-run double to the gap in right field to draw the Rams even with the Trojans. Dixon hit the ball solidly in each of his four at bats, going 3-for-4 while driving in three runs.
Will Tetrault, Cleveland: It was all about location for Tetrault both on the mound and at the plate. Tetrault dealt first pitch strikes to six of the first seven batters he faced before running into trouble in the fifth inning. In the batter’s box, the senior drove in a pair of runs on a pair of bloop singles, once in the third and once in the fourth.
Noah Bridges, South Johnston: Bridges went 2-of-3 at the plate and drove in Nash Johnson in the top of the fifth on a single to left to momentarily tie the game.
By the numbers
12: Hits totaled by the Rams.
10: Cleveland hitters who went to the plate in the Rams’ four-run third inning.
7: Batters retired in a row to end the game by Cleveland’s Landry Moore. More earned the win with 2.1 innings of shutout ball.
6: Walks issued by South Johnston pitching for the game.
5: Strikeouts registered by South Johnston’s Will Barbour. Barbour struck out the handful of batters after coming on in relief in the bottom of the third inning.