SPRING VALLEY – It’s not only about making big plays in big games.
Turns out that it’s also about making them when your team needs them most.
In a game between area baseball powerhouses that was arranged just last Friday night, 2019 Class 1A state champion Marquette jumped out to a 5-1 lead against 2018 2A state champion Hall through three innings, and the way sophomore Taylor Waldron was throwing, the Crusaders had to like their chances of that score holding up.
But the Red Devils simply refused to lose and started making big play after big play.
While Hall relievers Ethan Plym and Peyton Plym held the visitors in check, a bases-loaded, base-clearing triple by Ty Resetich in the fourth inning pulled the Red Devils (12-2) within one run before an RBI single by Jack Savitch in the fifth tied it at 5.
That set the stage for a go-ahead, two-run home run by Tres Rybarczyk off Crusaders ace Luke Couch in the bottom of the sixth to bring the home team all the way back for a 7-5 victory Wednesday at Kirby Park’s Foley Field.
And for good measure, in the top of the seventh Rybarczyk made a diving stop on what looked like a sure base hit up the middle for Marquette’s Beau Ewers and turned it into a game-ending double play.
Waldron and reliever Luke Couch, who led the Crusaders at the plate going 3 for 3, gave up only six hits on the day. Peyton Plym was winning pitcher in relief of Drake Garland and Ethan Plym.
“You don’t want to say you take it for granted, but he’s been in situations like that before, and he’s delivered. So we’ll take it,” Hall coach Tom Keegan said of Rybarczyk’s huge plays in the final two innings.
“We spotted them three early, but we just kind of stayed with it against a good ballclub. The nice thing about our offense today is it seemed like we scored a lot of runs with two outs [in fact, all seven]. Coming through in those situations was big, obviously.
“We’re coming down the home stretch for sure. The postseason is just around the corner, so playing a team like Marquette made sense. It kind of gets you centered and a mindset looking toward a postseason feel, because that’s what it felt like today.”
Marquette (1-1) grabbed the lead against Garland with a three-run first. Nick Melvin’s pop-up at the plate was misplayed for two bases before walks to Couch and Beau Ewers loaded the bases. A wild pitch, a groundout by Shane Reynolds and a single by Grant Waldron brought in the runs.
Hall got one back in its first on an error and a double by Peyton Plym, but the visitors added two in the third on a single by Logan Nelson, a double by Couch, an RBI single by Beau Ewers and a Reynolds grounder.
That’s where the comeback started.
Singles by Alec Bulak and Luke Kelty and a walk to Gabe Lucas filled the bags before Resetich hit a slicing drive into the right field corner to make it 5-4. A dropped-third strike to Bulak, a wild pitch and a run-scoring single by Savitch knotted the score at 5.
In the home sixth, Couch moved from shortstop to the mound, and an error put Ethan Plym on base immediately. After Lucas and Resetich both popped up sacrifice bunt attempts back to Couch, Rybarczyk clubbed his shot deep over the left-field fence for the winning runs.
Couch’s third hit with one out in the seventh gave the Crusaders hope, but Rybarczyk stole that away by diving on the bounder up the middle, stepping on second and doubling up Ewers at first.
“The ball that Resetich hit was a good swing, and so was the one by Tres, and then the play he made to end the game. He’s a gamer,” Marquette coach Todd Hopkins said of his team’s first regular-season loss since April 22, 2019, against Peoria Notre Dame.
“We played pretty well. Luke threw well, and the way Taylor threw in his first varsity start against a team of that caliber, that was impressive. We had chances in the fourth, fifth and sixth to add on, but we didn’t come through at the plate. We needed to see good arms like theirs. I thought we squared some balls up against all of them, and that’s something to build on.
“I like where we’re going, but we have to clean things up defensively and do a better job hitting with guys on base.”
The Crusaders travel to Roanoke-Benson at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, while Hall visits Kewanee for a 4:30 p.m game Friday.