Although many in attendence at Rennie Schneider Little League Field on Tuesday evening thought they were attending just a routine Little League 10U All-Star game, they ended up being treated to one of the most improbable, dramatic and utterly mind-blowing baseball games played at Hasson Heights in recent memory between rivals Franklin and Oil City.
As Oil City led Franklin, 6-4, heading into the top of the sixth inning, OC would attempt to get three outs to land the victory. However, Franklin rallied for 11 runs in the inning, making it seemingly out of reach for Oil City. Yet, baseball proved to us yet again that no lead is ever safe - especially in Little League - as Oil City answered back with a 10-run bottom of the sixth inning to pull off a theatrical 16-15 walk-off win.
Franklin got off to a good start when the first three hitters reached, loading the bases for Jordy Jones, who made a productive out by grounding out to the right side, allowing the game's first run to score.
In the bottom of the first, Oil City's Ryan Jackson also found himself up at the plate with the bases loaded and walked to tie the game at 1-1.
The stalemate was broken in the bottom of the fourth when Aiden Thompson and Bart Rosen both scored on a wild pitch. After Oil City scored another run on an errant throw back to the pitcher, Oil City's Elijah Sabin squibbed a ball down the third-base line that plated two more thanks to an overthrow.
In the fifth, Preston Keith ripped a two-RBI single before Jones added another RBI groundout to pull within a run at 5-4.
Oil City seemingly tacked on a huge insurance run on Blake Marchinke's RBI single in the bottom of the fifth, giving OC the opportunity to close out the game in the final inning.
OC starter Andy Mietus struggled in the early stages of the sixth as he gave up a lead off single before plunking a Franklin batter, causing manager Blue Mietus to pull his starter. Rosen came on in relief and promptly struck out the first batter he faced. However, Keith blooped a ball into shallow right field that got down for a hit and brought home three runs after a couple of errors by Oil City and just like that Franklin had a 7-6 lead. Mietus brought in Bryce Davis to replace Rosen.
Jones walked in the next at-bat and proceeded to bait the catcher into throwing to first as Jones took an aggressive lead right after the free pass. The ploy worked as the Oil City catcher fired the ball over the first baseman's head allowing another run to score. A.J. Wimer and Connor McCall each landed succesive singles shortly after. Oil City had a total of five pitchers pitch in the sixth as Wimer and McCall's singles set up five consecutive walks. When the inning was all said and done, Franklin scored 11 runs on five hits and seven walks while batting around the order.
With the score sitting at 15-6, Oil City's hopes looked slim. But, the team's ace in the hole might have been the fact that Franklin was running very thin on pitchers as well.
Sabin led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and Davis followed with an RBI double. After a pair of walks, Rosen notched an RBI single to make it 15-8. Max Lingo came up with a two-RBI double and Marchinke reached on an error that scored two more making it 15-12. Mietus reached on an error before Sabin walked that loaded the bases for Davis.
Davis launched a ball over the right fielder's head, scoring all three runs to tie the ball game at 15-15. With the crowd buzzing after OC scored nine runs while making just one out, Ryan Jackson stepped to the plate and sent the crowd home happy with a single down the right-field line, walking it off and keeping Oil City's title hopes alive.
OC will put those hopes to the test when they take on Clarion at 7:30 p.m. today at Clarion.
"Everybody stepped up on my team," manager Mietus said. "There is good baseball in Oil City."