Amateur Baseball: Serpents notch first win
LAKE CITY – That familiar sinking feeling was hitting the Lake City Serpents.
Coming into Wednesday’s non-league game with Bay City at 0-10 overall, Lake City found itself down 6-1 after the top of the fifth inning to the Bombers, who were trying to snap a losing streak of its own.
The thought in the Serpents’ dugout: here we go again.
“It did kind of feel like that,” said Lake City right fielder Hunter Baab. “We weren’t able to get anything going up to that point.”
But this time, Lake City did not roll over. And after scoring eight combined runs in the fifth and sixth innings, the Serpents were able to leave Bill Kieffer Field with a 10-8 victory, their first of the season.
“It just feels good to finally get one,” said Lake City manager Scott Gwaltney. “We were finally able to clutch up and get hits when we needed them.”
It looked like Bay City would roll over the Serpents after taking a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Derek Ulvenes had an RBI single, and Shane Lampman connected with a two-out, two-run single. Lake City responded in the bottom half with a leadoff double by Brett Gwaltney, who later reached home on an RBI single by Matt Miller.
But over the next three innings, the Serpents mustered just one hit and the Bombers continued to manufacture their offense, knocking Lake City starting pitcher Cody Loeckler out of the game with no outs in the second inning.
“We were low on pitching after playing a doubleheader on Sunday,” Scott Gwaltney said. “So we started a youngster (Loeckler) who just graduated (from Wabasha-Kellogg).”
On short rest, Kyle Sursely came in to try and keep the game under control, but things still looked troubling for the Serpents as Bay City’s Travis Balster knocked in a pair of runs in the second with a double. But Sursely calmed down and kept the Bombers’ offense off-balance with his fastball and curveball through the next three innings.
Bay City wouldn’t reach the scoreboard again until the top of the fifth as Mitch Matter drew a bases-loaded walk, scoring Lampman.
Held to four hits over the first four innings, Lake City finally got some momentum rolling, opening the bottom of the fifth with four straight hits. Miller crushed a two-run double to the left-center gap, and Zachary Wolfe drove in a run on a groundout. Hunter Baab added the final run of the inning, scoring on a throwing error.
The Serpents’ offense continued to roll in the sixth as Kris Long tied the game with an RBI double. Then, Hunter Baab gave Lake City the lead with a one-out bloop single to score Long.
“I was just looking for something to hit, something to drive into the outfield,” said Babb, who went 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI. “I ended up with a bloop that fell in the right spot.”
Austin Baab added a pair of insurance runs with a two-out double that brought in two runs, putting the Serpents up 9-6 after the sixth. And Lake City needed every run to stay alive against the Bombers.
Coming on the mound to try and finish the game, Brett Gwaltney ran into trouble in the top of the eighth after allowing Bay City to cut the deficit to 9-8. Balster and Justin Lance scored on consecutive wild pitches, but Gwaltney got out of the inning with Bomber runners stranded on second and third.
Lake City tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth as Wolfe reached home on a wild pitch. And in a game that featured a combined 25 hits and 18 runs, the Serpents ended the game quietly, putting Bay City down in order in the top of the ninth.
“It feels good to finally get one in the win column,” Hunter Baab said. “We were all really anxious in this losing streak, and I think this will help us relax.”
Brett Gwaltney went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, Long was 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI, and Miller tallied two hits, three RBI and a run for Lake City (1-10). Losers of five straight, Bay City (8-9) was led by Lampman, who was 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.
The Serpents host Dundas on Sunday, while the Bombers return home Saturday to play Pine Island.