They trailed by 3 or more throughout the game, but the Faith Baptist Crusaders took advantage of one bad inning and blew the top off the seventh to defeat the Highlanders 18-14 on Wednesday afternoon.
First Presbyterian trailed 9-12 in the top of the last inning, but pitcher Ryan Smiley walked a few batters and the Crusaders hit in three runners to go up 16-9. Crusader Aaron Powers stepped up with a runner on base and hit a homer to close the top of the seventh with an 18-9 lead.
However, the Highlanders returned with a battle at the plate. With a runner on second, Josh Rodgers hit a double, scoring a run.
The Highlanders scored another run off a triple and an infield error allowed another Highlander on base with no outs.
Fearing a last-minute rally, the Crusaders put Powers on the mound.
Highlander Tim Ashmen was able to take home on a wild pitch and the Highlanders were closing the gap, trailing 13-18 with no outs.
Powers struck down the next Highlander batter and Matt Brown had a base hit, which brought in a runner. However, he was tagged at first giving FPCA its second out of the inning.
Highlander Joey Bell stepped to the plate but Powers got the strike-out to win 18-14.
After the game, coach Joey Brown told his players to hold their heads high and pointed out the Crusaders had to bring in one of their best pitchers to try and shut down FPCA.
"Get your heads up. There is nothing to be ashamed of out here," he said. "You played good ball and you hustled all the way through. It was just one bad inning, just one."
For Faith Baptist baseball coach Matthew Sellars, the victory was something his squad needed.
"It is a rebuilding season. We lost four seniors and we lost seven starters," the second-year coach said. "One of our starters moved over to First Presbyterian and that didn’t help. We are trying to get a win whenever we can."
Of the players who did return or join the Crusaders’ squad, Sellars said they are pulling their weight and trying to get the job done. He said Powers, a multi-sport athlete, is a role model for others.
"He plays football, basketball and baseball and he never gets in trouble in school," Sellars said of Powers. "He is basically the A student you want."
The Highlanders will host Providence Christian at 4 p.m. today.