After a July filled with improbable rallies, the Haysville Heat found that a change in the calendar didn’t affect its unlikely postseason run.
Six days after a run in the top of the ninth gave it a first-round win in the National Baseball Congress World Series, the Heat came back from a pair of three-run deficits to beat the San Diego Waves 8-6 in a winners bracket game on Friday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Haysville endured a back-and-forth contest in which it didn’t take its first lead until two runs in the eighth gave it a 7-6 lead. After the two batters before him failed in a bases-loaded situation, Adam Jones drove in the go-ahead run on a fielder’s choice.
Jones hit a groundball to second base. The Heat’s Nick Billinger hesitated toward second as he waited for the ball to scoot past him, and Billinger appeared to run into the spot where Chris Lindmark was fielding the ball.
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But Billinger managed to avoid the tag, allowing Blake Sturgeon to score and prompting an unsuccessful argument by San Diego manager Junior Taele. It was the second straight odd play on the infield, as Lindmark dropped a ball in shallow right field that was ultimately ruled an out on the infield fly rule.
Adam McCormick followed Jones’ RBI with a run-scoring infield single.
The Heat appear determined to keep its unlikely postseason streak alive. Haysville was in danger of missing the tournament, which it won in 2007 while playing as the Havasu (Ariz.) Heat, after it finished last in the Jayhawk League with an 11-23 league record.
But Haysville rebounded from a loss to the Kansas Cannons in the Midwest Regional by beating them in the championship game. The Cannons scored the first two runs in that game but Haysville tied it before winning with a run in the eighth.
Against Valley Center last Saturday, the Heat surrendered an early 3-0 lead before its ninth-inning run allowed it to avoid an early trip to the losers bracket. San Diego was seemingly sending Haysville there by going ahead 3-0 in the first and 5-2 in the fifth.
The Waves scored their first five runs with two outs and all when Heat starter Cory Trudell appeared to be in the clear.
Trudell retired the first two batters of the game before the Waves organized their three-run first, and after Trudell retired 10 straight batters, San Diego scored a pair of two-out runs in the fifth.
Haysville never faced an insurmountable lead, though. The Heat got within a run in the third and tied it 5-5 in the sixth, scoring three runs with the aid of two San Diego errors.
The Wave made five errors in the game, but Jim Maxwell nearly rendered them meaningless — San Diego’s designated hitter had three hits and three RBIs.
Maxwell’s RBI double broke a 5-5 tie in the seventh, but Haysville notched the tying, go-ahead and an insurance runs in the eighth. The Heat used five pitchers, and all but closer Devon Brogan came in with at least one runner on base.
The most cruical escape act came from Ryan Thompson, who entered with the tying runner on second in the eighth but retired Brett Balkan on an inning-ending groundout.