In a game that had a little of everything, it was only fitting that the ending came down to one pitch for Augusta’s triple-A legion baseball team.
Stuart Kelley had a full count with a runner at third and two outs in the top of the seventh as he was trying to close the game for the Orioles. Kelley lined up a fast ball and got the McPherson batter swinging for a strikeout, preserving a 7-6 victory.
McPherson got revenge in the second game in a 12-4 rout of the Orioles for the split.
For the first couple of innings, the opening game belonged to Blake Wallace of Augusta. Wallace, who will be a sophomore at Collegiate next school year, threw six strikeouts and stymied McPherson the first time through the lineup.
But as the game wore on and the heat took its toll, McPherson changed up its game plan. McPherson got two straight bunt singles toward third base, then moved the runners to second and third on another bunt. Two batters later, McPherson took a 1-0 lead with an RBI single.
Wallace threw his first wild pitch of the game that allowed another run to score. McPherson tacked on a 2-RBI base hit for a 4-0 lead.
Augusta had a chance to get on the scoreboard early. The Orioles drew back-to-back walks and advanced to second and third with no outs after an error. But the Orioles couldn’t push any runs across home plate.
In the fifth inning, Augusta loaded the bases after Ryan Bevan was hit by a pitch, Tanner Line singled and Chad Izzo hit an infield single. Stuart Kelley drew a walk, which drove in Augusta’s first run to cut the deficit to 4-1. Alex Brown then smacked a 2-RBI single to left-center field, putting runners on the corners. A wild pitch during the next at-bat allowed Kelley to score, tying the game 4-4.
Augusta added two more runs in the inning to take a 6-4 lead.
Back came McPherson in the top of the sixth. It scored two runs, one unearned, to tie the game.
In the bottom of the inning, Kelley had a two-out single, then scored after Brown singled and McPherson made a misplay in the field that gave up extra bases.
In the final inning, Kelley hit McPherson’s lead-off batter, who eventually was moved around to third base with two outs. But Kelley came through with the final strikeout to close the game.
In Game 2, McPherson jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back. The errors crept up on the Orioles. That didn’t help Kelley, who pitched a large portion of the game for Augusta.
The Orioles’ next games are this Friday against Wellington.