NEWBERRY — A wild ending to the first game of the day highlighted a doubleheader split with Wingate, with the Wolves earning a 4-3 victory in the first contest before falling 13-9 in the second.
A walk-off wild pitch on the first pitch to Danton Hyman in the bottom of the ninth sent the Smith Road Complex crowd of 394, a season high, into a frenzy and caused the Newberry (23-20, 12-12 SAC) dugout to spill out toward home plate and across the infield with water escaping from players’ bottles into the air like geysers.
The aptly-named Lane Wildman tossed the pitch while attempting to execute an intentional walk to set up a force play at any bases and a bases-loaded, two-out showdown with Dalton Lansdowne. However, Lansdowne never got his chance as the throw sailed several feet over of the reach of catcher Andrew Llewellyn to give Newberry the win.
The lead changed hands twice over the final innings, with a two-run seventh giving Wingate (33-12, 16-8 SAC) a 3-2 advantage that the Wolves overcame with single runs in the eighth and ninth frames.
Hyman got the rally started in the eighth with a leadoff single to the opposite field. He stole second, then moved to third on a ground out by Derek Olenchuk. With two outs, Colin Allman worked a 2-0 count before a line drive single that dropped in front of the center fielder to tie the score at three.
Allman finished the game with all three of Newberry’s RBI’s after also lifting a bloop single into right field in the first inning to score two runs. He went 3-for-4 on the day, leading a group of four Wolves with multiple hits.
The first two men reached in the ninth and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Sam Jones. The runners were unable to advance on a ground out to third base, setting up the dramatic final sequence.
Charlie Fessler earned the win with a perfect inning of relief work that included a strikeout. Dylan Southerland didn’t factor into the decision, but pitched brilliantly in his final start at the Smith Road Complex, allowing one run on four hits through six innings of work. He escaped a jam largely unscathed in the second, conceding a run but stranding three runners on a popup in foul territory.
The second game saw four lead changes, but 10 combined runs over the final three innings for Wingate led to a 13-9 win for the Bulldogs. Designated hitter Bradley Brown was the hero for Wingate, going 3-for-4 with a double, two home runs, and six RBI.
The Wolves fell behind 2-0 in the first inning, but snatched the lead right back with three runs on three hits in the bottom of the frame, including a two-run double off the bat of Ben Herring.
The game’s most thrilling play came as part of a three-run fifth inning that allowed Newberry to retake the lead once again. The first three batters reached on two singles and a walk before a run came home on a double play ball. A walk put runners on the corners and two outs for Sam Jones.
With a left-hander on the mound for the Bulldogs, Allman broke for the plate from third base. He was several steps down the line before Peyton Spangler took off from first, but the pitcher was preoccupied with the runner in his field of vision rather than Allman baring down on the plate. By the time the catcher drew his attention, Allman was streaking into home to tie the game on the double steal. Jones’ sinking liner moments later brought Spangler home from second to give the Wolves the lead.
Newberry trailed 8-7 heading into the seventh and final inning before a five-run outburst put the game out of reach. Newberry collected three hits and scored a pair in the bottom of the inning but was unable to erase the deficit.
Saturday marked the final home games for Newberry’s 12 seniors. The Wolves travel to USC Aiken Tuesday before closing out the regular season with a three-game set at Anderson next weekend.
The Wolves would also fall to Wingate Friday 4-2.