ROANOKE – It was so nice that the bunt sign was given twice.
Consecutive Roanoke-Benson/Lowpoint-Washburn hitters laid down suicide squeeze bunts, the first of which gave them a lasting lead, in a 9-4 victory over Tri-County Conference foe Peoria Christian on May 7.
Facing a one-ball count, Reed Aeschleman got a squeeze down in the bottom of the fifth inning to score Jake Weber with the go-ahead for the Rockets (13-13, 8-4) at 4-3. Aeschleman advanced to second on an error.
The next pitch from Peoria Christian’s Nick Nielson saw Jason Tallyn get one down for a second run.
“They’ve bought into it enough to do it ever since they were freshmen,” said RBLW coach Wade Hunter of the small ball philosophy. “They know how important it is.”
RBLW plated three in the fifth and added three more in the sixth. The big blow of the sixth was a two-run single to center field by Jarrett Bline, who had earlier driven in a pair with a double.
According to Hunter, he contemplated having Bline squeeze as well.
“He looked down at me and I was going to squeeze and he told me I got it,” pointed out Hunter, whose team overcame a 3-0 deficit. “He was trying to go the other way. Any time you tack on two or three runs, talk about breathing room.”
After losing his first four decisions, Daniel Kennell evened his record to 4-4. The only bad pitch he made was a hanging curve, which Nielson deposited over the fence in right for a two-run homer in the second.
Due to the 105-pitch count, Kennell was one out shy of a complete game.
“He does not get down on himself. I honestly do not think he thinks about losing a baseball game,” said Hunter of his senior hurler.
Peoria Christian got one in the top of the seventh before Jack Weber came on in relief and struck out the lone batter he faced.
Sam Hodel and Ben Monge joined Bline with a two-hit day, while Justin Post turned the trick for the Chargers (8-13, 5-7).
Notes: Ottawa Marquette (25-2, 11-1) won their fifth straight TCC crown.