Rebels rally late to beat John Curtis

Published 11:45 pm Friday, April 12, 2013



RESERVE – The District 10-2A baseball championship is still very much up for grabs, thanks to a gutsy seventh inning rally by Riverside on Tuesday night.

The Rebels overcame a 2-0 deficit entering the final frame to emerge with a 4-2 victory over John Curtis at Mike Miley Stadium, icing the game in the bottom of the seventh on a double play with the bases loaded.

“Any time we play. Any time it’s Curtis and Riverside, you know it could be like this,” said Riverside coach Matt White. “I’m so proud of our guys … We talked about how there’s only a couple of weeks left, and how it’s time for guys to step up if they’re gonna do it. They stepped up tonight.”

The Rebels snapped a 14-game winning streak for Curtis (18-4, 3-1), which was ranked second in Class 2A power points entering the game. The Rebels were ranked 17th and jumped up to 15th with the win.

The two teams have split a pair of games this season. The rubber match is set for next Thursday and could decide the district championship.

“If we want to make a run in the playoffs, we can’t have mental lapses. In that last inning, we had them tonight,” said JCC coach Johnny Curtis. “We really beat ourselves tonight. The bottom line is we’ve got to take care of us going forward, if we hope to reach our goal, and for this team that’s a state championship.”

Lefthander Tanner Lawson has been the Rebels’ lead arm on the mound this season and found himself in a pitcher’s duel with Curtis’ Matt Grabert  for most of the night. Lawson allowed two runs on seven hits, three walks and three hit batters in a complete game effort. He struck out four. On the final at-bat of the game, Grabert hit a ball up the middle right to Lawson, who teamed with catcher Booda Delaneuville and first baseman Evan Veron to turn a game-ending double play.

The Rebels (11-12, 3-1) had made an error just before that to extend the game.

“A lot was going through my mind,” said Lawson. “All situations, what if the ball is hit back to me … Booda came up and talked to us and got our minds back into it. After that it was alright.”

Curtis added an insurance run to what was a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth when Dylan Robinson bunted to score Evan Hileman on a suicide squeeze.

But the Rebels responded beginning on an Andre Faucheux single; a chance for the Patriots to get him at first was negated on a high throw. Hymel followed with a single, then Mason Vicknair bunted his way on to load the bases with no outs.

Grabert struck out Brandon Morris, but Delaneuville laced a single to center to score a run and make it 2-1. The Rebels were down to their last out after Grabert struck out T.J. St. Pierre, but Jeremiah Berteau reached on an error and the Rebels put two more runs on the board to take a 3-2 lead. Dustin Madere’s RBI single made it 4-2.

But with one out, Curtis started to stir in the bottom half. Hunter Speer drew a walk, then Spencer Lemoine hit a high ball that the Rebels lost in the sky – that dropped in on an error. Austin Linden singled to load the bases for Grabert, but the Rebels turned two to finish the threat.

“It was a gutsy performance,” said White. “We made a couple of mistakes in that last inning but nobody panicked or acted like the wheels were coming off.”

Grabert pitched a complete seven innings, allowing seven hits while walking two. He struck out eight. Five of those seven hits came in the final inning. One of his four runs allowed was earned.

Before Faucheux’s single in the seventh, Grabert had pitched three perfect innings in a row and retired 12 straight batters overall.  

“He was rolling. We finally got to him,” said White. “That’s the amazing thing about baseball. There’s no time limit. As long as you have outs left, the other team has to make plays. And if you put the bat on the ball, you’ve always got a chance.”

Said Curtis coach Johnny Curtis, “He was outstanding. Even in the seventh inning, I thought. There were two bloop hits in there … nothing really changed for him. He deserved a better outcome.”

Curtis scored its first run after back to back doubles by Hileman and Robinson in the fourth inning.

The Patriots had a chance to perhaps all but put things away in the second inning, where Lawson hit three batters to load the bases with one out. But he struck out the next two Curtis batters to get out of the jam.

“I was trying to take it all into my own hands,” said Lawson. “But after that stretch, I started pitching to contact and trusting my defense … letting them get themselves out and letting my defense make plays instead of trying to do too much.”

This Rebels team has been in retooling mode after turning over much of its roster after last season’s state runner-up finish.

But with final district games with Haynes and Curtis next week, the Rebels find themselves once again playing for championships.

“It’s the biggest win of the season up to this point,” said Lawson. “We know if we want any kind of a good seed, we need to sweep Haynes and win games like tonight’s.”

RIVERSIDE 14, HAYNES 0 – Tanner Lawson and Sean Mohon combined to throw five no-hit shutout innings against the Yellow Jackets, with Lawson earning victory in a dominant district win for the Rebels. He started and went four innings, allowing just one baserunner via a walk.

Mason Vicknair went 4 for 4 with four RBIs and a double to lead Riverside (9-12, 2-1) at the plate. Andre Faucheux went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a double. Brandon Hymel went 1-for-3 with four RBIs.

Riverside has now swept Haynes after besting the Yellow Jackets 10-8 on March 26.