ALEXANDRIA — Staring down the barrel of a 6-3 deficit heading into the bottom of the final inning, the Alexandria baseball team didn’t blink Monday.
A bases-loaded walk to Mason Hoke and RBI singles by Jessie Gossett and Drew Johnson sent Tigers fans home happy after the team scored four runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to pull out a 7-6 win over Madison County rival Anderson.
“We left so many runners on base, we just couldn’t come up with the big hit,” Alexandria coach Jeff Closser said. “I knew if we got back to the top (of the order), Jessie and Drew are hitting right around .500, so I knew if we got back to them we had a chance to win this.”
Alexandria scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the first when DH Blaize Kelly singled home Johnson. The Tigers also left the first two of their nine runners on base in the inning.
Anderson came to bat in the second and showed patience at the plate, something that was missing in the first when several batters went after the first or second pitch delivered by Alexandria starter Jonah Jerrils. Jerrils struggled in the second as the Indians scored three runs on three hits and a walk to take a 3-1 lead.
The Indians plated a run in the third and two more in the fourth to take a seemingly comfortable 6-1 lead.
The Tigers’ comeback began in the fifth when Beau Thompson grounded out to short but drove in Owen Young.
Hoke scored from third in the sixth as Anderson catcher Anthony Fuller threw out Gossett trying to steal second.
The Indians appeared to be on their way to adding insurance runs in the seventh against Hoke, who came in to relieve Jerrils in the fifth. Hoke walked Tony Bova and Joe Moran to lead off the inning before striking out Dax Swanson and getting Cory Chilcote to hit a lazy pop out to second. Kevin Jackson drew a two-out walk to load the bases, but Fuller grounded into a fielders’ choice to end the inning and keep the score at 6-3.
“We walked the bases loaded,” said Closser. “Mason hasn’t thrown a lot of innings. He threw Saturday at Guerin (Catholic) and was terrible, walked five guys in an inning. I thought tonight he came in, calmed himself down and did a great job in that last inning.”
Kelly led off the seventh with a diving fly ball to center. Braden Odom charged the ball and made a nice sliding catch, one of several solid defensive plays for Anderson and the first time Kelly was retired. Jerrils hit a single and Thompson drew a walk before Kolby Haas was caught looking at strike three for the second out.
Chet Maynard walked to load the bases for Hoke, who coaxed another walk to cut the lead to 6-4. Gossett lined a hard single to left, scoring two runs to tie the game at six and setting up the winning run at second base. Johnson sent an 0-1 delivery to right-center to score Hoke with the winning run.
“This is a close-knit group,” Closser said. “They hang out together, they believe in each other and that’s the way they play.”
Swanson took the loss, having relieved starter Connor Johnson with no outs in the sixth. The Indians had 10 hits but left nine runners stranded on base, including five over the final three innings.
Hoke picked up the win for the Tigers, who finished with 11 hits.
The Indians’ pitchers struck out six batters and issued nine walks while the Tigers’ tandem of Jerrils and Hoke struck out six and walked seven. Gossett and Kelly finished with three hits apiece for Alexandria. Bramwell, Connor Johnson and Julius Neal had two hits for Anderson.
Both teams are back in action Tuesday with the Tigers (12-8) traveling to Oak Hill for a Central Indiana Conference game while the Indians (9-12) travel to Richmond in a North Central Conference matchup.