Rye Cove baserunner Adam Hill (6) slides in under the tag by Castlewood catcher Craig Jacobs during Tuesday’s Region D, Division 1 tournament game in Castlewood. (Ned Jilton II photo)
CASTLEWOOD — With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, it looked like the fourth time was going to be the charm for Rye Cove’s baseball team.
The Eagles were leading 8-5 and Castlewood was down to its final out. But two walks and two clutch hits later, the Blue Devils were celebrating an improbable, 9-8 victory in the quarterfinals of the Region D, Division 1 tournament.
“That’s what we’ve preached and preached and preached all year,” Castlewood coach Jonathon Salyer said. “It’s not over until it’s over, keep fighting through, and today some things went our way and we came out with a win.
“I always heard in the playoffs it’s survive and advance. That’s what we did there.”
Rye Cove very nearly pulled off the upset after losing to Castlewood twice in the regular season and once in last week’s Cumberland District tournament. The Eagles lost an early lead before plating four runs in the sixth and two in the seventh to get back in command.
But once Rye Cove had two outs on the board in the seventh, nothing went right. Eric Hill walked two consecutive batters to load the bases, Walker Long scored on a wild pitch, and Dakota Grizzel connected on an RBI single to get the Blue Devils within a single run.
When Hill got two quick strikes on Blake Sloce, the Devils were hanging on the verge of elimination.
But Sloce came through with a long drive to the outfield that Rye Cove’s center fielder misjudged from the get-go. An attempt at a leaping catch was unsuccessful, and Sloce’s two-run double sparked a wild celebration.
“We were scared all the way to the seventh,” Sloce said. “We prayed a whole lot — I know that.
“Usually we just choke and poke when we have 0-2. I just threw my hands out there and luckily it went.”
Sloce picked up the win after coming on in relief in the top of the seventh. Grizzel went 4-for-5 with an RBI for Castlewood.
Uriah Addison had two hits, including an two-run double in the seventh. Josh Hill also had two hits and Eric Hill came through with an RBI single for Rye Cove, which was eliminated in heartbreaking fashion.
“We had our chances to win, and we didn’t make a play there at the end,” said Eagles coach Terry Fields. “We didn’t come through. Maybe next time we’ll come through.”