LANCASTER — The only question in Mackenzie Hampshire’s mind was where theball might land once it cleared the fence in left-center field.
Hampshire’s two-out, two-run blast in the eighth inning gave Lima Post 96the lead for good in a topsy-turvy 19-13 state tournament win over Marysville Post 79 atBeavers Field.
“It was a pretty sure thing,” Hampshire said. “I was just thinking make goodcontact and force the defense to make the play.”
The two teams combined for 32 runs and 36 hits. Marysville scored seven inthe eighth to overcome a six-run deficit, only to surrender seven runs toLima to account for the final score.
“That’s how the whole tournament was for us,” Marysville manager Chuck Gouldsaid. “That’s one thing we haven’t done a great job of this year isovercoming our mistakes.”
Lima will take on Napoleon in a semifinal game at 1 p.m. today at BeaversField. A win would put Post 96 in the tournament’s championship game.The two teams battled back and forth in the first three frames. Marysvillepulled to 5-4 in the fourth inning when Cam Chambers doubled to score NathanHodnichak.
Cory Rieman, Luke Morgan and Michael Snider each singled and scored in thebottom of the fourth. A sacrifice fly by Mike Bogan also brought in a run,and Lima seemed to have a comfortable cushion at 9-4.
After Kyle Nelson doubled to bring home Brandon Wolfe in the fifth forMarysville, Anderson Hasting singled to right to score Nelson and make it9-6.
RBI singles from Keaton, Sullivan and Rieman, along with a sacrifice fly byHampshire, again increased Lima’s lead in the sixth, to 12-6.
Aaron Patterson started on the hill for Lima, and battled through troublefor the first seven innings on Wednesday. But Patterson appeared to tire inthe eighth inning, which opened the door for Marysville’s biggest rally.
Hodnichak, Jeremy Clifton and Chambers singled off Patterson to load thebases to start the eighth. Patterson then issued back-to-back walks to makethe score 12-8.
After recording the first out of the inning on an RBI groundout by Wolfe tomake it 12-9, Patterson exited in favor of Sullivan.
But Sullivan surrendered a two-run double to right-center field to the firstbatter he faced and was pulled for reliever Nathan Hefnerwith the score at 12-11.
Hefner gave up a pair of RBI singles to Hodnichak and Clifton to giveMarysville its first lead since the second inning at 13-12 heading to thebottom of the eighth.
“These kids never quit,” Gould said.
Hasting, in relief on the mound for Marysville (29-17), retired Lima’s firsttwo batters in the eighth inning. But after Hefner reached on an error withtwo outs, Hampshire homered to left-center field to give Lima the lead forgood.
Lima tacked on five more in the inning, including a bases-clearing double bySnider.
“After we gave up the home run, the wheels kind of fell off,” Gould said.”They’re like sharks when they smell blood in the water, they attack.”
What could have been a season-ending collapse turned into triumph with oneswing of the bat for Lima (25-8).
“We just needed to keep fighting,” Hampshire said. “It was pretty crazy, butit’s not over until the fat lady sings.”Sean Golden writes for the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette. He can be reached at 740-681-4350 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.