An aggressive double steal in the bottom of the sixth led to the Page Patriots (5-10, 1-5) first win in district play against the Franklin Admirals (6-9, 2-4) at home Thursday night, 4-3.
“We have been struggling in close games,” said Page head coach Kenny Roeten. “In the sixth inning, we got a situation that we were able to execute defensively. I think it helped us carry that momentum and score. It is a big win for our guys.”
“We struggled with putting hits together and had a couple of defensive mistakes,” said Franklin head coach Wally Whidby. “That is the seventh one-run game we have lost this year. We have got to figure out how to win close games.”
“It is really important win and gets our confidence back up,” said Page outfielder Cason Walker. “Hopefully we can add a few more and keep it rolling on the next few games.”
In the top of the first, Page starting pitcher Josh Bailey executed a shutdown inning with a fly out caught by an infielder in foul territory and a double play to hold the Admirals scoreless.
Page drew first blood in the bottom of the first with a RBI single from Walker to give the Patriots the lead, 1-0.
“We had runners in scoring position, so my main option was to get the ball in play and get the run in,” said Walker.
“He has been a nice surprise for our team,” said Coach Roeten. “He just goes up there and gets the job done. He goes out there and competes.”
Bailey continued to deal in the second inning for the Patriots recording a strikeout, groundout to shortstop and a fly out to right to keep the lead for Page at 1-0.
The Patriots tacked on another run with aggressive base running on a throw to second base as Grant Snyder bolted for home to extend the Page lead 2-0 in the bottom of the second.
Franklin answered in the top of the third on an RBI walk by Carson Gardner with the bases loaded to cut into the Page lead 2-1.
The Admirals starter Drew Whalen stopped Page’s offensive momentum, accumulating two strikeouts and a lineout to right to hold the score at 2-1 in the bottom of the third.
Franklin’s offense stalled in the top of the fourth, as Page starter Bailey forced three fly outs to hold the Admirals at bay and keep the score at 2-1.
Whalen helped the Admirals stay in the game in the bottom of the fourth with a strikeout looking and a double play turned by the defense to hold the score at 2-1.
The Admirals tied it up in the top of the fifth with a bases loaded sac fly by Daniel Sherman, 2-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, Page regained the lead on a RBI single from Walker to go ahead 3-2.
Franklin knotted the game again with an RBI double from Joseph Waters in the top of the sixth, 3-3.
“Joseph is just a great batter and is hitting almost at .500 on the season,” said Coach Whidby. “His on-base percentage is almost at .700. Joseph is the guy at the plate that you want up there in a clutch situation.”
In the bottom of the sixth, a risky double steal decision from Page worked out, as a wild throw by Franklin’s catcher skipped past the third baseman and into the outfield to give Page the go ahead run, 4-3.
“Stealing is probably the thing we have been the best at,” said Coach Roeten. “It has kept us in games and scored runs. We have always heard that pressure busts pipes. If we can take advantage of the situation and put some pressure on the other team, then maybe we can scratch one across - which we did.”
Pitcher Rien Griggs picked up the win for the Patriots and closed the door in the in the top of the seventh, drawing two groundouts and a fly out to give Page their first regular season district win, 4-3.
“He threw strikes and kept them guessing,” said Walker. “It was enough to get the job done.”
Franklin will take on Ravenwood on the road next Monday.
“I hope we bounce back,” said Coach Whidby. “Ravenwood has a good club. We have got to come out there and play our best game to beat them. When the pieces come together, it is going to click.”
Page will face Nolensville at home Friday night.
“I hope we see more consistency,” said Coach Roeten. “We need to take this momentum from tonight and propel it to another game.”