LAURINBURG — The Fighting Scots were down it their last out in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and the bases loaded on Saturday against David W. Butler.
The inning started with back-to-back walks to Scots catcher Zac Phillips and right fielder Davon Ratliffe. Pitcher Matthew Hyatt tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners, but popped it up instead for the first out of the inning. Junior Donovan O’Donnell drew the walk during his at bat to load the bases for the Scots. Scots senior McKenzie White just had to put the ball in play and hopefully one of his teammates would score the game-winning run.
White struck out swinging and with two outs it looked like the two non-conference teams would have to play another inning. Scots senior short-stop Donta Green stepped into the box and was able to hit a ground ball past Butler’s short stop to score Phillips from third base to end the game.
The Scots dugout emptied onto the field and tackled Green to the dirt just past first base. It was a hard-fought win and one head coach Chad Hill said his team needed.
“I think we’ve talked about finding out who we are and what we’re made of and a little bit of it came out in this game. If you like different aspects of the game you saw it all (today),” Hill said. “Butler is a well coached team, they are fundamentally sound and we did some things that helped us steal one.”
Butler got out to an early 1-0 lead with back-to-back doubles in the second inning off Scots pitcher Matthew Hyatt. The Bulldogs held onto their 1-0 lead until the bottom of the fourth inning — when the Scots scored the tying run. The inning started with a pop out by Hyatt and a ground-ball out by O’Donnell to put the Scots in a two-out hole. White hit an infield ground ball and the throw to first base was off target and White advanced to second.
Green then hit a shot to left field that dropped in for a hit, on the crack of the bat White took off for home plate but was tagged out by Butler’s catcher. Hill came out of the dugout to speak with the officals about Butler’s third baseman obstructing the bag.
With the out in hand Butler’s defense had gone to the dugout and put their helmets on. After a conference near the third-base line the officials called Butler back onto the field and called obstruction and the run by White counted.
Second baseman Daly Marcano then hit a infield ground ball to Butler’s short stop and reached first. Justin Bowers then drew the walk to load the bases with two outs. Scots first baseman Austin Norton then hit into a fielder’s choice for the final out of the inning.
Hill said arguing the interference call was a no brainer because he knew the umpire had seen what happened and would rule in the Scots favor.
“The home-plate umpire has that call and he saw our guy get twisted, plus we were thrown out at home by 25-feet so it’s not like it was bang, bang play but you never know,” said Hill. “I heard them talking about sending the runner from third back to second and I knew we had it which was a huge play for us.”
The call reversal that tied the game didn’t go over as well with the Butler fans in attendance. The Bulldogs fans and the Scots fans started going back and forth about the call and insulting each other’s baseball intelligence.
Butler regained the lead in the top of the sixth inning off a fielding error by the Scots. A single to center by the Bulldogs put one runner on but a pop up bunt and a fielders choice quickly saw Butler with two outs. After an intentional walk, Hyatt tried to throw out Butler’s runner at first and threw the ball past Norton. The ball rolled all the way to the fence and Butlers runner advanced to third. A hard hit to Green at short stop popped up off his glove and allowed Butler to regain the lead, 2-1. Hyatt got out of the jam with a pop-fly out to right.
The Scots tied the game in the bottom of the sixth. White started the inning with a infield hit before Green was hit by a pitch to put two runners on and nobody out. Marcano then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third. Bowers then hit a ground ball to the short-stop the throw to the plate was late and White scored to tie the game.
Norton then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners with two outs. A pop out by Phillips ended the inning.
The two teams then went scoreless for the next three innings as the game drug on. The Scots finally saw their opportunity to win the game and took it off the hit from Green.
Hill said he knew he could count on his starting short-stop to deliver in a game-winning situation.
“That’s what we expect,” said Hill. “Donta had a busy morning, took the SAT got here five minutes before the game started, had a double play in the first inning — that’s what we expect from him.”
For the afternoon, Hyatt pitched a full game for the Scots allowing two runs off four hits with one error, three walks and four strikeouts. Coming in to relieve Hyatt was Norton who threw just over one inning allowing zero runs off one hit and two strikeouts.
The Scots move to 5-0 on the season and will travel to Harnett Central on Wednesday for a 5 p.m. game, weather permitting. The Scots will then return home on Saturday, March 18 to host Laney at 4 p.m.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.