South Side Bee Branch's Mason Duncan dropped a perfect two-strike squeeze bunt with one out in the bottom of the seventh, scoring Zac Capps as the Hornets edged West Side 5-4 in an extended season high school baseball game between a pair of 1A-2 South powers.
South Side Bee Branch's Mason Duncan dropped a perfect two-strike squeeze bunt with one out in the bottom of the seventh, scoring Zac Capps as the Hornets edged West Side 5-4 in an extended season high school baseball game between a pair of 1A-2 South powers. After fouling off two deliveries from West Side relief pitcher Tyler Cowley, Duncan worked the count to 2-2 before deadening the bunt 15 feet from home plate, just to the left side of the mound. West Side, which lost its extended season opener by one run on Monday against Conway Christian, played small ball to take a 1-0 lead in the top of first inning as Bryce Hipp and Dalton Treece walked, setting up a sacrifice-bunt from Ben Hargrove. With two runners in scoring position, Blaine “Pepper” Hipp drove home older brother Bryce Hipp with an RBI groundout to third base. Duncan, who toed the rubber in relief after South Side's starter walked the first two Eagle batters of the game, managed to limit the damage to one uncharged run and the Hornets took the lead in the bottom half. Brian Dumas, who finished 4-for-4 with 2 runs, doubled and scored in the first inning and Austin Lewis drove home a run for the Hornets with a line drive single to left field, plus South Side benefited from a bases loaded walk, giving the home team a 3-1 lead after one frame. Duncan struck out two batters in the second while pitching around a two-out single to center off the bat of Cowley. Cowley, who entered the game in relief with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the first inning, worked around a walk and single in the second, leaving runners at first and second with a strikeout. Dalton Treece looped a two-out single over shortstop in the third but he was caught stealing second by South Side catcher Josh Payne. Cowley once again pitched out of trouble in the bottom half of the third with the help of centerfielder Mason Treece, who came down with a leaping grab to save at least one run. West Side sliced its deficit to one in the top of the fourth as Hargrove and Pepper each beat out infield singles, which set the table for Brandon Carr's RBI sacrifice-fly to right field. With the Eagles trailing 3-2, Pepper stole second and moved to third on Hayden Gilmore's groundout, but South Side escaped the jam when Dumas made a smooth backhanded play on Mason Treece's sharp ground ball down the third base line. Cowley pitched around a one-out single by Dumas in the bottom of the fourth, but Duncan retired the Eagles in order in the top of the fifth. Cowley continued to stifle the Hornets in the bottom half of the fifth, only allowing one runner to reach by error while fanning two batters. Down 3-2 with one out, West Side stirred up a rally in the top of the sixth as Dalton Treece walked and Hargrove was hit-by-a-pitch before Pepper lined a single to right field. After Duncan notched a huge strikeout with filthy curveball, Gilmore drew a four-pitch walk for an RBI that scored Dalton Treece and tied the score at 3-3. On a full-count delivery with the bases still loaded, Duncan used another wicked curveball to get out of the jam. South Side, which returns several starters from a team that lost to Taylor 3-2 in the 1A state championship game, showed its resiliency with two down in the bottom of the sixth. Dumas ignited the Hornets with a single to right center and he advanced to second on a balk before left-handed hitting Garrett Collums crushed an RBI triple to the alley in deep right center, plating Dumas and giving the Hornets a 4-3 advantage. West Side refused to go down quietly, battling back with one run in the top of the seventh to extend the game. Cowley sparked the Eagles with a single up the middle, then Kory Johnson's sacrifice-bunt pushed courtesy runner Gage Hewitt into scoring position as Johnson reached safely on a throwing error. South Side pulled Dumas, who relieved Duncan to start the seventh, in favor of Payne, who eventually put out the fire but not before the Eagles scratched across a run. After Hipp walked to load the bases, Dalton Treece lifted an RBI sacrifice-fly to right field, scoring Hewitt as the Eagles tied the game at 4-4. Hargrove walked, once again loading the bases before the hard-throwing Payne got out of the inning with consecutive strikeouts. Capps reached on a throwing error and stole second to start the bottom of the seventh. Dylan Bonds pushed Capps to third on a groundout, which set up Duncan's game-winning squeeze bunt.