The Chiefs weren’t about to let another game three lead slip away, stomping out a rally to beat Arabia Mountain 9-3 on the road Saturday afternoon to clinch McIntosh’s second-ever trip to the state baseball quarterfinals.
“I’m very proud of the kids,” said McIntosh coach David Munoz. “We’re finding ways to create those runs, and we’re getting better each series.”
Losing a lead in game two to Arabia Mountain and a two-day rain delay to play game three wouldn’t be enough to throw them off their game.
“Each practice each day we talked about the mental focus you have to have. The second game we let get away. We didn’t finish,” said Munoz.
This time last year, the Chiefs were sitting at home after taking game one against Columbus before losing game two and letting a huge lead slip away in game three of the opening round. They have used that bitter feeling as fuel to feed the fire all season.
“We’ve been talking about last year’s team. We’ve used that this year to carry us through some tough times,” said Munoz. “We had a couple bad innings today, but we fought through it and found a way to come back. It was a good day.”
Playing as the home team on the road against the Rams, McIntosh scratched out the game’s first run in the bottom of the 2nd on an Ethan Ange single to score Andrew Pinckney.
The offense started to click in the third with three more runs coming across the plate. Dane Kinamon led off with a double, and Jacob Cole walked. Kyle Riesselmann laid down a bunt and reached on an error to load the bases with no outs. Pinckney lofted a long sacrifice fly to plate one, and Ryan Sanders pushed another in on a groundout. Ange drove in his second run of the game on a line drive to left for a 4-0 lead.
Arabia Mountain took advantage of a defensive miscue in the top of the 4th to slice the lead in the half, then pull within one run in the 5th.
McIntosh bounced back in the bottom half for four runs. Sanders was plunked, and Ange walked to tighten the screws. Daniel Blair singled home pinch runner Joe Lopez, and Max Geiger followed with the big blow, singling home Ashton Angier and Blair. Geiger raced home on a passed ball to add insurance for an 8-3 lead. Sanders dealt the final blow with an RBI single in the 6th.
Tyler Biltimier gave the Chiefs a great start on the mound, pitching 4-and-a-third innings allowing no earned runs. Conner Koscevic came out of the bullpen to finish the game without giving up a run.
Up next for the Chiefs is a daunting matchup against defending champion Locust Grove. The best of three series starts with Wednesday’s doubleheader at 4:30 p.m.
“Our goal is to get to the Final Four where anything can happen, and we’re one step away from that,” said Munoz. “We’re playing a very solid Locust Grove team. We’re going to have to play our ‘A’ game to compete with them, but I think we can do it.”