GOLDEN — Good things can happen on the baseball field when you simply put the ball in play.
That statement proved to be the endgame motto for Golden in its home and season opener Saturday afternoon against Elizabeth. Things looked pretty bleak for the Demons after a two-out, two-run double by Elizabeth sophomore Sage Ferguson gave the Cardinals a 9-6 lead heading to the bottom of the seventh inning.
Despite trailing since the third inning and needing a late-inning rally to pull out a victory, Golden came through with a four-run bottom of the seventh inning to grab a dramatic 10-9 win.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take what we can get,” Golden junior Ben McLaughlin said moments after the walk-off victory.
Seth Kenner, James Douthit and McLaughlin got things going in the bottom of the seventh inning with three consecutive hits to start the rally. Douthit’s double drove in Kenner and McLaughlin’s double scored Douthit to trim Elizabeth’s lead to 9-8.
“We were striking out early in the game, but we were able to put things together and when you put the ball into play good things happen,” said McLaughlin, who finished with three hits and scored four times.
Junior Zane Covey drove in the game-tying run with a foul ball down the left field line that was caught, but McLaughlin tagged up and scored from third base. The bottom half of the lineup got things going with the bases cleared and no outs.
Junior Conrad Holmes was hit in the helmet with a pitch to get on base. Sophomore Ty Howe grounded to shortstop, but the Cardinals committed an error to keep the inning alive.
“We didn’t take advantage of some situations early in the game,” Golden coach Jackie McBroom said. “We did a better job of that late, but we need to do that earlier.”
It was better late than never for freshman Ethan Lewis. While the freshman struggled at the plate striking out in his first three at-bats, Lewis came through with a flare over the second baseman. Elizabeth’s right fielder had a beat on the fly ball, but it was dropped and pinch-runner Jackson Philleo scored from second base to give the Demons the dramatic 10-9 victory.
“I know we didn’t necessarily played our best baseball, but getting a ‘W’ out of it makes me happy,” said McBroom, who liked what he saw from a pretty inexperience team when it comes to varsity playing time.
McBroom returns just a couple of players from last year's team with much varsity playing experience.
Lewis pitched the final two innings for the Demons to pick up the victory. McLaughlin went the first five innings on the mound.
“He (McLaughlin) is going to be our guy on the mound. He knows what he is going out there,” McBroom said. “He is going to be big at the plate. He is a good baseball player.”
Elizabeth had to swallow the tough loss despite a great pitching effort from senior lefty ace Tyler Richardson, who went the first four innings with six strikeouts. Senior Casey Berndt showed off his power with a three-run opposite field home run off of McLaughlin in the Cardinals’ five-run third inning.