A routine fly ball that could have ended the game turned into the tying runs, as Doherty transformed a rather frustrating offensive day into its biggest win of the season thanks to an odd-ball, five-run seventh inning on Thursday.
With the bases loaded and two down in the top of the seventh, and Liberty hanging to a two-run lead, Doherty catcher Cory Ewald surprised everyone - including himself. His seemingly harmless blooper off Lancers pitcher Kyle Simon dropped into left field to drive in the tying runs, and Jake Needham followed with an RBI single to rally the Spartans to a 6-5 win at Liberty High School.
"I thought it was a can of corn. I thought it was over," Ewald said of his seventh-inning single. "But we'll take it. It was nice to get some things finally going our way."
It certainly took awhile. Doherty (4-6 overall, 1-0 5A Colorado Springs Metro League) stranded six runners on base, had three others thrown out on base-running gaffes and scored just once in the first six innings against Liberty pitcher Tony Rice.
The chances came one after another. Nick Chavez stole second base and moved to third on a throwing error before he was thrown out in the third inning on an unsuccessful double-steal attempt. Needham stole second base in the fourth inning, but was thrown out trying for third base a couple pitches later. And in the sixth inning, in Needham's next at-bat, he lined into a double play with a man on second to end that threat.
Rice knew he was taunting the bull.
"I was trying to maybe force things a little out there," said Rice, who walked nine runners on Thursday. "Maybe that mixed with some fatigue."
It wasn't until the seventh inning though when it finally caught up to him and the Lancers (2-6, 0-1). Rice, who had extended the lead to 5-1 with a two-run single the frame before, walked the bases loaded before he was pulled with one out in the inning.
He watched the rest crumble from there. Mitch Gemignani hit a two-run double off sophomore Brennen Sinchak to close the gap to 5-3, and Ewald and Needham hit back-to-back two-out singles off Simon to take the lead.
Reliever Gabe Jacobo, who took over for starter Will Reynolds in the sixth, gave up one run in his two innings to close things out for the Spartans.
"This was definitely a character-building win for us," Doherty coach Chris Solarek said. "Everyone on the roster chipped in to help us get this win. We hope we can carry this momentum with us for awhile."
The two meet again10 a.m. Saturday at Doherty High School.