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Kruse in control as Bellevue rallies past Lexington

AnthonyMoujaes • May 21, 2011 at 12:46 AM

Down to his final strike and Bellevue trailing by two runs to Lexington, Bellevue's Evan Kruse got his bat on a pitch.

Kruse had thought he popped out and any chance the Redmen had to advance to the Division II district championship was gone.

"I didn't hear anything, didn't hear anyone. Just focused, trying to get a piece of it and stay alive in the at-bat," said Kruse, who lined a ball to the gap in deep right field, scoring two runners, tying the game at 6-6, and giving Bellevue new life.

In the top of the 10th, Jeff Roth and Sean Halladay added RBIs, and the Redmen finished off an 8-6 win at Heise Park in Galion.

"We have kids that have done some things today when they haven't had opportunities in the season," Bellevue coach Andy Dennings said.

Mike Fry showed resiliency, Deninngs said, after an elbow injury ended pitcher Adam Manner's day in the fourth inning. Fry came in cold and threw seven innings in the win, and set down Lexington in order in the 10th to end it.

Bellevue (15-7) will play Oak Harbor (12-8) in the 2 p.m. district final today. It's the first district title game for Bellevue since 2002, when it lost to the Minutemen, 2-0.

The Rockets were 5-4 winners against Mansfield Madison.

The Redmen put three runs on the board in the third as Ben Schindley hit a single, Mike Fry had an infield single and Shane Iannello walked for a 3-0 lead. Ryan Cook, and Ryan Geary, whose sacrifice bunt resulted in a wide throw, crossed the plate, as did Schindley.

The Minutemen scored two in the bottom on RBIs from Ian Sullinger and Ryan Oliver to make it 3-2.

Iannello added a his second RBI of the afternoon in the fifth to score Alex Manner.

Lexington scored four more runs for a 6-4 lead, plating three in the fifth and another in the sixth. Oliver, Mitch Willeke, Logan Bastin and Zach Sterry provided the RBIs.

"It was an exciting ballgame. (Lexington) really competed well. We were up all game and they maxe that little run at us, and we were able to get it back with Kruse in the seventh," Dennings said. "That's just exciting baseball."

Roth and Fry were the first and second outs of the seventh. Matt Seiger singled and Iannello's grounder to short was fielded, but the throw pulled the first baseman off the bag to keep the Redmen alive and set the plate for Kruse. Garrett Alt and Dilan Buckner were pinch running and scored on Kruse's shot to the outfield.

"When I saw the right fielder playing shallow, I started digging (for second)," said Kruse, who described the play as the biggest at-bat of his life. "I was looking at home plate to see if they scored it. I was standing at second thinking, 'Glory.'"

The extra-base hits kept coming in the 10th for Bellevue. Schindley took one to the left field wall, then two batters later Roth took the first pitch he saw down the right field line. Halladay, in the lineup for Seiger, took a single back up the middle off reliever Mason Willeke to score Roth and restored the Bellevue lead for good.

"That's a big insurance (run)," Dennings said. "To have two, you can give up that run and play deep."

Dennings said Bellevue will likely be without Manner, who plays third when he isn't on the mound, for today's district final.

Oak Harbor 5, Mans. Madison 4

The Rockets (12-8) scored their third come-from-behind victory in three playoff games, this time a 5-4 victory over Mansfield Madison.

"It'd be nice to get an easy one here once in awhile, but I'm sure the fans enjoy it," Oak Harbor coach Rob Schimmoeller said. "It gives (the players) confidence that, no matter what happens, they never get down on themselves. 'Hey, it's going to happen.'"

Oak Harbor's Brian Mallernee redeemed himself after a shaky pitching start with the game-winning single in the bottom of the seventh inning.

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