The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Will Korn 

Means' walk off hit gives Sidney thrilling win over Ogallala in opener

Game 1 - Legion Juniors District Tournament

 

Will Korn

Shortstop Arik Doty adds his signature to the game ball signed by all the Sidney juniors following their walk-off win against Ogallala on Saturday. Below Doty and Mitch Rolls warm up before the game's resumption.

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, first baseman Zack Means looped a walk-off single into left field that landed just inside the line and the Sidney Junior Post 17 team took home a 10-9 win its opening district game against Ogallala Post 135 Saturday afternoon in Chadron.

Sidney finished the game with 10 hits on its way to 10 runs, but also benefited from five Ogallala miscues throughout the contest.

The game was originally scheduled to be completed Friday night, but a sudden torrential downpour that flooded the field forced a halt in the bottom of the third. The game was resumed at that point on Saturday, with no outs and shortstop Arik Doty at the plate in an 0-1 count.

Even with all the inconvenience of a long weather delay and a two and a half hour trip home to Sidney and back before the game was final, the juniors still pulled out a gutsy, critical opening win.

The game ball wasn't given to Means because he hit the game winning single, nor was it given to Doty, who finished 2 for 4 with an RBI. Rather, it was given to and signed by the entire team for pulling through everything together for the big opening win.

"We were a little down after last night," said second baseman Bret Jaggers. "We needed a couple leaders to step up in today's game and we got them."

Most of the action took place Friday night in the first two and a half innings before the roughly 20-hour delay began.

Southpaw Keaton Wakefield took the ball for Sidney on Friday night. Despite a shaky start to the game-hitting the leadoff batter Jeramy Bartels with a pitch and then walking Orey Fricke-Wakefield was able to limit damage. Ogallala starter Tyson Patrick struck out and then Garrett Shaw hit into a fielder's choice groundout.

The Sidney defense was unable to turn what would have been an ending-inning double play. Instead, second baseman Bret Jaggers flipped the ball to Doty who stepped on second to retire Fricke, but his throw to first was in the dirt and Means couldn't scoop it.

Means chased down the ball and made a strong throw home to try to nab Bartels running from second but it slipped by catcher Byron Rowley, giving Ogallala an early 1-0 lead.

In the bottom half of the first however, Sidney went straight to work in catch up mode. After sophomore leadoff man Ben Goble and center fielder Mitch Rolls took back to back walks, Means hit into a fielder's choice groundout that advanced Goble to third.

Wakefield then smacked a one-hop RBI single right over the second baseman's glove, scoring Goble to even the score at 1-1. Doty next popped a high fly ball to left fielder Danner Johnson who couldn't haul it in. Means scored from third on the error and Sidney went up 2-1.

The Sidney running game started to factor in as well. Doty and Wakefield perfectly executed a double steal to move to second and third respectively and after right fielder Tanner Bellmyer reached on an errant throw from third to first, both Doty and Wakefield came in to score, giving Sidney a 4-1 lead heading to the second inning.

Ogallala would quickly respond to Sidney's outburst. Wakefield needed only eight pitches to retire the first two Post 135 hitters but just couldn't come up with the third to finish a shutdown inning.

Mitchell Sutherland singled to center and was followed by Trey Rezac and Jack Doherty, who were both hit by Wakefield offerings. With the bases loaded, leadoff hitter Bartels worked an RBI walk and then Fricke's Q-shot single to Doty at short scored another Ogallala run.

Ogallala starter Patrick helped his own cause with a hard-hit single to center, scoring Doherty for the third Ogallala run of the inning. Garrett Shaw then drilled a single into the left center gap that scored two more runs. Ogallala went into the bottom the second leading 6-4.

Sidney would answer for a second time in its half of the inning. Third baseman Spencer Ellwanger kicked things off with a single to left. Goble struck out next, but Rolls was able to pick him up with another single to left.

After Means' groundout moved Rolls to second and Ellwanger to third, a wild pitch that walked Wakefield allowed Sidney to tie the game at six a piece.

Wakefield was eventually cut down trying to steal third to end the Sidney threat.

Ogallala plated two more runs in the third on two hits, a walk and another wild pitch from Wakefield and led 8-6 going into Sidney's half of the inning. Wakefield was finished after three complete innings, allowing eight runs-seven earned-on six hits. He struck out two and walked four.

After things picked back up on Saturday, Doty-on the very first pitch-led off Sidney's third inning with a single and after two consecutive outs Jaggers belted a double to the wall in center that scored Doty.

Sidney cut the Ogallala lead to one, trailing 8-7 going to the fourth.

Goble took the ball to start the top of the fourth and managed to hold Ogallala to just one more run-Fricke's RBI two-out RBI double in the fifth-for the rest of the game. He was spectacular in relief of Wakefield from Friday night, finishing the day with one earned run on four hits in four innings, while fanning two and walking only one.

"My goal today-not even pitching-was trying to keep the team up and happy, not thinking about it [Friday night's rain delay]," Goble said. "I was trying to keep us in this game."

Sidney added another run in the sixth on Doty's two-out RBI single scored Means, who ran as hard as he could to bring Sidney within one of Ogallala at 9-8.

Then came crunch time in the seventh. Led by Goble, who kept his team within striking distance all afternoon, Sidney needed two runs for the win.

Tyler Bergstrom started Sidney off with a single and was followed by Jaggers who hit into Sidney's third fielder's choice groundout of the game. Bergstrom was forced out at second with the faster Jaggers safe at first. An infield single by Ellwanger scored Jaggers, tying the game at 9-9.

But Sidney refused to settle for extra innings on a hot Saturday afternoon.

After Goble struck out swinging for the second out, Rolls collected his second single of the game. And with Sidney runners on first and second and two away, it all came down to Means, who was 0-4 heading into this at-bat.

His lofted single into left just stayed fair inside the third baseline and Ellwanger slid into home as the winning run.

The Sidney dugout exploded in celebration.

"I hit through the five and a half hole," Means said when asked how he felt when the ball left his bat. "I saw it starting to tail but I wasn't really looking at it. All I could do was hope it landed fair."

It did, by a fraction.

"I was just feeling happy," Means said. "I had been thinking about my at-bats all game, and I finally just let my emotions do it for me."

Means and every other team member signed the ball for posterity.

"If you're not happy right now, you're wrong," assistant coach Tommy Arellano told he team after the dramatic win Saturday. "It's not about any individual here, it's about the team."

Line Score

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E

Ogallala 1 5 2 0 1 0 0 9 11 5

Sidney 4 2 1 0 0 1 2 10 10 3

Box Score

AB H R RBI 2B 3B SO BB SB

Goble 5 1 1 0 0 0 2 2 3

Rolls 5 2 1 0 0 0 1 2 0

Means 5 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0

Wakefield 4 1 1 1 0 0 0 2 1

Doty 4 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0

Bellmyer 4 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 Rowley 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Bergstrom 3 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0

Jaggers 4 2 1 1 2 0 1 0 0

Ellwanger 4 2 2 1 0 0 1 0 0

Sidney Pitching

IP H R ER K BB

Wakefield 3.0 7 8 7 2 4

Goble 4.0 4 1 1 2 1

 

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