Tioga rallies past Collinsville to clinch playoff berth
ERA — The Bulldogs had to wait out a pair of weather delays as well as a pitcher who barely allowed a hit and served up plenty of strikeouts.
But for a team which had to win its last two regular season games to get to this point, Tioga still felt confident it could find a way to keep its season going.
“Our last three games have been must-wins,” Bulldogs head coach Chris Armstrong said. “They responded like they did because they didn’t want their season to end. I think our guys feel like we’re never out of a ballgame.”
A six-run outburst in the seventh inning power Tioga's rally past the Collinsville Pirates, 7-2, to win a District 11-2A tie-breaker and clinch the fourth and final playoff spot.
Tioga (7-12, 7-6), which is in the postseason for the first time in three years, will face District 12-2A champion Sam Rayburn in the bi-district round later this week.
The Bulldogs had to win both games last week — first against Collinsville and then a match-up with district champion Trenton — to stay in the race. A loss in either would have meant elimination.
Collinsville (7-14, 6-7) came up short after heading to the seventh with a 2-1 lead.
Colin Barnes allowed just one hit in six innings but did walk six to go with 13 strikeouts. His pitch count got to 106 and the Pirates turned to Tyler Fogle to secure the last three outs. But he was unable to hold the lead as the first six Bulldogs reached to kick off Tioga’s comeback bid.
It took until the Bulldogs' last turn at bat before turning the game in their favor.
“We understand baseball is a game of momentum. They had it most of the night,” Armstrong said. “We had to seize it at the end.”
Tioga took advantage of a pair of errors that started the inning and put the tying run in scoring position instead of the Bulldogs being down to their final out and the bases empty.
Tanner Yant had an RBI double fall squarely on the right-field line to tie the game and then Rylan Newman was intentionally walked — his fourth free pass of the night — to load the bases. Chase Jones walked on four pitches to force in a run and give Tioga the lead.
Caden Pelley followed with a walk to make it a 4-2 game and Chris Stanley’s groundout to second drove in another run.
Cameron Byler was hit by a pitch with two outs to keep the inning going and Jonah Grubbs capped the scoring with a two-run single to left center.
Newman finished off the victory after a one-out error and walk.
Tioga had cut the deficit in half during the top of the sixth without the benefit of a hit. Newman walked with one out, Pelley walked with two outs and Canyon Maness walked to load the bases.
Stanley fell in an 0-2 hole before working a walk to force in a run. The tying run stayed at third as Barnes struck out Byler to keep Collinsville in front.
After going up 2-0 in the third, the Pirates didn’t put a runner on base until Bryce Johnson’s one-out single in the sixth.
Newman allowed an earned run on four hits with a walk and nine strikeouts.
“We didn’t give up the big inning and that helped us at the end,” Armstrong said. “Rylan did a great job keeping us close.”
The Pirates went up 2-0 in the bottom of the third with two outs. Barnes singled to left and stole second. Newman tried to pick him off but the ball went into center field and the throw back to the infield got away as Barnes scampered home.
The game, which started more than an hour late, was halted due to lightning in the area with two outs in the top of the third.
Barnes had just struck out his sixth straight Bulldog when the contest was stopped.
The game resumed an hour later, Barnes induced a foulout to first to end the inning and then ran into trouble in the fourth.
Newman walked with one out before Pelley was hit by a pitch with two outs. Maness walked to load the bases but Barnes battled back from a 3-1 count to strike out Stanley and maintain the two-run advantage.
Collinsville took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Johnson opened the inning with a single up the middle, moved to second on a groundout and took third on a wild pitch before Connor Ragsdale’s RBI single the other way to right.
In the first inning, Tioga got a one-out single from Yant but he overslid second due to the wet turf when trying to steal. Newman followed with a walk and stole second but was stranded there.
District 11-2A tie-breaker