BLOUNTVILLE - It was a gift-wrapped baseball victory for Sullivan Central and a creative loss by Volunteer.
With two out in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Cougars (7-3, 3-2) rallied dramatically for the tying and winning runs Tuesday night in an 8-7 Big 9 Conference win.
This marked Central's fourth come-from-behind victory in recent days.
"I've never had one happen like that,'' Central coach Brandon Krantz said, scratching his head.
Volunteer (3-6, 1-5) held a 7-6 lead with two Central runners on base. After Jeremy McMurray fanned for the second out, the ball was thrown past first base and into the outfield.
Carl Roberts, who had singled and advanced on an error, and pinch-runner Josh Wallace - inserted after Will Leonard's walk - raced to the plate before the ball could be chased down by right fielder Derek Shaffer.
"Volunteer battled the entire night and didn't deserve to lose,'' Krantz said. "We hung in there to give ourselves a chance and got a big break at the end. A win is a win - I don't care how we get it. Any conference victory is huge.
"Volunteer is going to beat some people. I'm just glad it wasn't us.''
The Falcons had taken an early 4-0 lead and were moving along impressively on Shaun Arnold's one-hit pitching.
Central broke the ice and trailed 4-1 after four innings.
Volunteer scored another run to lead 5-1 but Central finally put together an attack, scoring five times in the fifth to move in front 6-5.
Volunteer retaliated with one run to tie the score and moved ahead again, 7-6, in the top of the seventh on a pair of walks and Jake Parker's sacrifice fly.
Then disaster struck as the Cougars essentially won the game on a strikeout. Volunteer was just one out away from victory when the wild throw sent the ball rolling all the way to the outfield fence.
"There's going to be no finger pointing,'' Volunteer coach Travis Free said. "We let (the Cougars) hang around too long when we had a chance to put them away.
"This is the kind of game my kids are going to have to learn to win. We played well enough to win and should have won.''
Free was pleased that his team regained the lead after allowing Central to take it away.
"It's the first time we've been put in this situation,'' he said. "We competed after we got down.''
"Arnold pitched a tremendous game for Volunteer,'' Krantz said.
Free agreed: "Shaun didn't have his best stuff but he battled.''
There were 10 sacrifices in the game - five bunts and three flies by Volunteer and two bunts by Central.
The Cougars' big fifth frame include hits by Justin Presnell, Jeremy McMurray, Cody Hyden, Peter Mociran, Gary McMurray and Drew McLaughlin.
Arnold went 2-for-3 to drive in two Volunteer runs. Central's Gary McMurray was 2-for-3.