BASEBALL: Saline Battles Back from 6-1 to Win Home Opener
Down 6-1 to Huron in Saline's home-opening game for the 2022 season, it would have been easy for the Hornets to call it a game and start prepping for the second game of the doubleheader.
Instead, the Hornets stormed back, scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game and then scoring in the bottom of the eighth to win.
"I'm proud of you," coach Al Zeiher told his team after they poured out of the dugout to celebrate the victory with Sam Miller, who crossed the plate on a wild pitch. "We didn't play our best, but we hung in there and we found a way to win."
Senior Ian Balint earned the win in relief. Balint entered the game with the bases loaded in the top of the fourth. All three runners scored to Huron a 6-3 lead. Balint shut them down from there. In the end, he gave up no runs on four hits and a walk while he fanned nine batters.
Cade Tousa, Bobby Butler and Jackson Conley each had three hits for Saline, which had 15 hits in the game.Braden Larusso smacked two hits.
Saline was down 6-1 going into the bottom of the fourth. The Hornets chipped away at the lead with a run in the fourth and a run in the fifth. Momentum seemed to be building until Noah Mahmoud shut the Hornets out in the sixth.
In the top of the seventh, Balint kept firing bullets and slow curves for strikes. He struck out the side, giving him five straight punchouts.
The top of the order set the table for the comeback in the bottom of the seventh. Tousa beat out an infield grounder. He swiped second. LaRusso followed with a single up the middle - scoring Tousa. Saline was within two. After Butler flew out to second, Kriss Sydlowski stepped up to the plate. Up until this point, Sydlowski was 0-for-3. He delivered in the clutch, smacking a line drive down the first base line for a triple that scored LaRusso.
Saline wasn't done yet. Jackson Conley belted a line drive single to right-centerfield for another single, scoring Sydlowski. The game was tied at 6.
Balint returned to the mound in the top of the eighth. He allowed the leadoff hitter to reach on a single but then retired the next three batters with a strikeout and two flyballs.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Hornets went back to work. The leadoff hitter, Sam Miller cracked a double to left field. With no outs, he stole third. Huron intentionally walked Roman Laurio and Tousa. With LaRusso at the plate with the bases loaded, Huron's hurler uncorked a wild pitch that bounced past the catcher and Miller scored, giving Saline the 7-6 victory.
The game didn't start well for the Hornets.
Ace Liam Yelsma couldn't find his groove. He allowed two runs on four hits and a walk in the first inning. Saline got one run back in the bottom of the first. LaRusso smacked a one-out double and scored on a sharp single by Butler.
Yelsma was chased in the second after walking the leadoff man. Jackson Muir entered the game. He allowed a double and a single to push another runner across the plate before he escaped the inning with Saline down 3-1.
Muir retired the side with a groundout and two strikeouts in the third. In the fourth, Muir got into trouble, loading the bases with two walks and a single. Balint entered the game and threw a pitch that eluded Conley, his catcher, allowing one run to score. Spieles followed with a double that scored two more runs. Saline was down 6-1.
The Hornets looked poised to rally in the bottom of the fourth. Butler led off with a single. He scored on a long double to center by Giuseppe Gottfried. But Noah Mahmoud escaped further damage.
Saline Leads 2nd Game, 2-1
Saline led the second game, 2-1, after one inning of play, before the game was called due to darkness.
Aiden Carlson started for Saline. He allowed one unearned run on two walks and an error in the first inning. Saline replied in the bottom of the inning with two unearned runs. Tousa reached on an error. LaRusso singled. Butler grounded out to short. scoring Tousa and moving LaRusso to third. LaRusso scored with Gottfried grounded out.