GIRARD — A 7-5 lead held by the Frontenac High School baseball team vanished in the seventh inning after Parsons rallied back to take the lead in the seventh inning and held on to win 11-8.
The Raiders were leading by four runs after five, but the Vikings struck for two runs in the fifth inning and six runs in the seventh frame before limiting Frontenac to one run in the bottom of the inning by turning a double play with the bases loaded.
“They hit the ball well,” FHS head coach Bill Sullivan said. “We knew Parsons was a good team and I felt like they earned it. We made some mistakes, but they got some big hits when they needed it. It seemed like when things were starting to go our way, they’d come up with a big hit. We’d be ahead in the count and they’d battle back. You have to take your hat off to them, they really came out and played well.”
Both teams were matching each other stride for stride in the early going, as the game featured three lead changes in the first four innings.
Frontenac drew first blood in the opening inning, going up 1-0 on a straight steal home by Brandon Mlekus, who slide into the catcher’s glove, forcing the ball to bounce out.
The Vikings tied the game at 1-apiece in the second inning, before taking their first lead in the second frame with a run to go up 2-1.
An RBI double off the bat of Peyton Brown in the third inning plated the tying run for FHS, but the Vikings regained the lead with a run in the fourth frame.
The Raiders took the lead at 5-3 after crossing the plate three times in the bottom half of the fourth inning.
The frame began with a one-out triple laced down the right-field line and into the corner off the bat of Isaac Bicknell and included a pair of RBI singles by Jake Wilbert and Brown.
Frontenac sustained the momentum in the fifth inning, taking advantage of three errors by Parsons to plate a pair of runs and increase the lead to 7-3.
The Vikings rallied back in the sixth and seventh innings to regain the lead at 11-7.
The Raiders battled with their backs against the wall in the bottom of the seventh inning by working the count in every at-bat and trying to get on base any way possible.
FHS loaded the bases thanks to a pair of errors and walks drawn by Cal Strand and Wilbert, which allowed Cooper Cleland to jog across the plate for one run.
With a run in and one out, the Parsons’ third baseman fielded a groundball, stepped on third and fired over to first to complete the double play and end the Raiders’ season.
“My five seniors have given everything I asked for,” Sullivan said. “I think that’s what hurts the most right now is that I didn’t give them the opportunity to get to state. We didn’t get it done. Seeing those guys walk off the field for the last time is pretty tough to handle. They’re such a great group of young men and they’re going to do great things in life down the road. I’m just really proud of them.”
Brown was the offensive catalyst for the Raiders, going 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk.
Mlekus drove in a pair of runs with one hit, two runs scored and a walk.
The Frontenac starter on the mound was Ryan Long, who allowed two earned runs on seven hits and three strikeouts through three innings.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.