A fight to the finish: Landrum takes round one at Polk

Published 2:15 pm Friday, April 24, 2009

The three-hour-long battle came to a dramatic close when a Wolverine comeback attempt fell one run short in the bottom of the seventh, and the Cardinals won the first installment of this year&squo;s border rivalry, 13-12.

The game started calmly enough, as Polk starter Patrick Kelly faced only four batters in the top of the first.

Cardinal starter Matt Pruitt gave up singles to Danny Fraga and Justin Harris, and Fraga scored on a Landrum error two outs later to give Polk the lead.

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Landrum answered with a five-run second. Ryan Jacobs knocked in Adam Pitts on a single, and another run scored on a throwing error. Dustin Morris then laced a two-run double to make the score 5-1.

But Polk continually chipped away at that deficit, and Lucas Cash&squo;s solo shot off the top of the centerfield fence made the score 5-4 after four innings.

Second baseman Pitts moved to the mound as Polk had men at second and third in the bottom of the fifth, but Fraga scored on a fielder&squo;s choice and the game was tied.

After Landrum scored in the sixth, Polk&squo;s Jordan Ollis and Joel Booker drew back-to-back walks and Fraga ripped a double to bring them home. Harris hit a single off Justin Henson, who was brought on to pitch, which plated Fraga, and the Wolverines were suddenly three outs from a victory.

But Landrum, who clinched a region championship by beating Greenville Tech Charter on Tuesday, didn&squo;t start the bus just yet.

Another Polk error loaded the bases behind Brandon Jolley, who came on to pitch in the sixth after catching five innings. He struck out the next batter, but Morris came through again with an RBI single. A strong throw by centerfielder Harris kept Henson at third base, but he scored on a sacrifice fly by Alex Wilson in the following at-bat. A bases-loaded walk plated another run, which put the Cardinals ahead by one. Those loaded bases emptied on Polk&squo;s fifth error of the night, and just like that, it was Landrum 13, Polk 8.

So, it was time for the Wolverines to put on their rally caps.

Kelly started them off with a deep double to right. After J.P. Ruth reached on an error, Jolley hit into a fielder&squo;s choice, and there were two quick outs.

Cash slapped a single and the bases were full again. Ollis put a charge into the ball and the crowd on his next swing, but it hit off the wall and only one run was able to score. Booker connected with a two RBI single, and it was 13-11. Fraga reached again on a high throw to first, which plated another run.

But Henson beared down and struck out Harris on three pitches, and the Cardinals mobbed the mound in celebration.

&dquo;To say there were ups and downs, I don&squo;t think would quite cover it,&dquo; said Landrum coach Donald Miller after the game. &dquo;You gotta be proud of both teams, the way they battled back.&dquo;

&dquo;They get excited to play Landrum, I tell them not to, but they get that way,&dquo; said Polk coach Ty Stott, on his team&squo;s sketchy fielding. &dquo;We&squo;ve only given up three or more runs three times this year.&dquo;

Polk (11-2, 6-0 WHC) plays Mitchell at home today at

5:30 p.m. Landrum (9-5, 8-1 region II-1A) plays Southside Christian today at home at 6:30 p.m.

The two rivals will square off again tomorrow at Landrum. The JV teams start at 11 a.m., and the varsity will follow.