It may have been the craziest half inning of the summer championship season.
A highly controversial call; upset players, coaches and fans; wild bounces of the ball and key hits all highlighted the Seguin Senior League baseball team’s top half of the seventh inning against Oklahoma on Monday night at Smokey Joe Williams Field.
For the second straight night, Seguin would trail late in a ball game to extend their season and keep their World Series dreams alive.
And once again, a late rally propelled them to a win, as they scored two runs in the top half of the inning to get a 6-5 win.
The win moved Seguin to 3-1 in the tournament, and advanced them to last night’s game against Texas West (Snyder LL) for the right to play for the Southwestern Regional Championship.
“That was a hard fought win,” said head coach Shawn Osborne after the game. “That was definitely not the team we saw on Friday.
“We had to fight the whole game and everybody on this team produced today in one way or the other.”
Oklahoma, which Seguin had beaten 9-2 in the first round of the tournament, jumped on Seguin early, scoring in three out of the first four innings to take a 5-2 lead.
But Seguin came right back in the top half of the fifth, scoring twice after a Tristan Moreno single, a Clark Ullrich triple down the left field line, and a balk that brought Ullrich in to cut the lead to one, 5-4.
Moreno has been a force during the tournament, constantly reaching base and scoring.
“I’m just trying to find a way on,” Moreno said. “I know since they’ve seen me a couple of times they’re trying to pitch me backwards and throw the curve ball, so I’m just hunting the fast ball.”
With Stephen Kent on the mound, the Seguin defense made a couple of great catches in the bottom of the inning. First baseman Otto Gueldner made a diving catch of a foul ball and Jaxen Monkerud snagged a line drive to short to hold the lead to one.
Seguin appeared to have something going in the sixth, after Monkerud singled to reach base with no outs. But an Aden Supak liner down the left field line that seemed to be a hit was caught right on the line by a diving Oklahoma left fielder, who then fired the ball to second base to double up Monkerud and end the scoring threat.
That set up the wild seventh inning — and another improbable Seguin comeback.
With Seguin still trailing by a run, Kaden Monkerud slapped a single into left field, and Moreno followed with an infield single to the third baseman, using his speed to beat out the throw to first.
Clark Ullrich struck out looking on a pitch many thought was high and inside, before Kent singled into left to load the bases with one out.
Then came the craziness.
With time apparently called, Logan Purdum, who was pinch running for Kaden Monkerud, was called out at third after being tagged when he stepped off the bag.
The subsequent discussion between coach Osborne and the umpire led to a prolonged meeting of the umpiring crew — and they called Purdum out.
“It was a little trick play,” Osborne said, of the third baseman holding onto the ball when Purdum thought that time had been called. “The pitcher was on the mound, and you can’t do that with the pitcher on the mound.
“To me there was some controversy behind that — the umpires blew that call.”
Seguin fans weren’t happy with the call either, voicing their displeasure with the call during the entire five-minute delay.
But on the next pitch, the Oklahoma pitcher was called for a balk, and Kent and Moreno advanced to second and third.
“He wasn’t coming set,” Osborne said. “He was quick pitching, that caused the balk and opened things back up for us.”
With Seguin down to their final out, Cory Mazzurana came to the plate. On an 0-1 count, Mazzurana stroked a hard shot past the shortstop and into left field.
“I saw it real well and hit in the gap,” Mazzurana said. “It was a fast ball right down the middle, I couldn’t miss it.”
Moreno scored easily to tie the game, but the ball took a weird hope in the outfield and went over the left fielder’s head, the same player who had made the great diving catch an inning before. Kent streaked home from third to give Seguin the lead.
“I was celebrating on my way to first and I saw it get by him, and I said ‘Oh yeah!’” Mazzurana said.
“Cory got the huge hit, that’s the man of the night right there,” Osborne said. “Everything that could happen did in that inning. From the trick plays and the balk, to the key hits, it all happened for us.”
Kent came in to pitch in the third inning, and shut Oklahoma down the rest of the way, allowing just two hits and no runs to keep Seguin in the game.
“My curve ball and my slider were really helping me a lot,” Kent said. “It was nice to pitch a shut out over the last couple of innings and hold them.”
Osborne noted that Kent has been pitching that way the entire season.
“That’s exactly what we expect out of him,” Osborne said. “He does it every time and did his job.”
Overcoming the three-run deficit and winning the game made an impression on the coach and his team.
“It just builds them up,” Osborne said. “They know they have to fight every time — they’re the cardiac kids — I don’t know what else to say.”
For the game, Moreno went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and Mazzurana drove in four runs on two hits,
Ullrich, Kent and Jaxen Monkerud had two hits each in the team’s 12-hit performance.
Seguin moved on to a rematch with Texas West last night at Smokey Joe Williams Field. Texas West beat Seguin Saturday night, 11-10.
The winner moves on to face Texas East (West University LL) tonight in the championship game.
That winner advances to the Senior League Baseball World Series, starting on Saturday in Easley, South Carolina. Games will be televised on ESPN. See the story in Thursday’s Seguin Gazette.
Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .